Volume 9, Number 37 -- October 13, 2009

IBM Updates WebSphere Middleware

Published: October 13, 2009

by Alex Woodie

IBM last week delivered a slew of updates to various WebSphere products that are broadly aimed at helping customers take advantage of business performance management (BPM) functionality in the context of a service oriented architecture (SOA). The newly announced products run the gamut from infrastructure components, such as a new release of WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus to industry "content packs" aimed at providing BPM templates for companies in specific industries.

The WebSphere product lineup has never been easy to understand. There are at least 40 different products in the WebSphere family, and at least two or three times more when you count all of the different versions and editions of those products.

With the launch of at least eight different WebSphere products last week, the WebSphere phenomena continues to defy easy categorization or explanation. But one thing is certain: Because WebSphere is Java, all of the newly announced products will run on the i OS server, an IBM spokesperson confirmed.

Here's a rundown on the announcements:

  • At the top of the WebSphere heap is WebSphere Process Server version 7. WebSphere Process Server allows customers to define business rules and then carry out the workflow among humans and machines. With version 7, IBM says it has made it easier to create and manage human workflows.
  • IBM also released "WebSphere Registry and Repository and Advanced Lifecycle Edition version 7." This release brings better understanding of the "business/IT awareness," as well as a "seamless view of services" thanks to new federated impact analysis and change management features, IBM says.
  • The introduction of WebSphere Message Broker version 7 and WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus version 7 provide new "service federation management" capabilities, as well as better support for open standards, according to IBM. These products work with WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Business Monitor to move data throughout an organization or SOA.
  • IBM also launched WebSphere Business Services Fabric version 7, and WebSphere Industry Content Packs version 7, which are optional products customers can buy with the fabric. This release of WebSphere Business Services Fabric features user interface enhancements, a cleaner install, closer integration with other WebSphere products, and support for four additional languages: Afrikaans, Armenian, Georgian, and Swahili. The new content packs are available for banking, insurance, healthcare, telecommunications, and industrial product life cycle management; however, they only run on Windows.
  • IBM also released WebSphere Transformation Extender (WTX) version 8.3, a new release of a product designed to allow customers to graphically map data transformations, and integrate different data types, without programming. This release of WTX brings new data "packs" for EDI transactions and customers in the healthcare field.
  • Also launched is WebSphere DataPower B2B Appliance XB60 version 3.8. If you haven't already heard, the XB60 is a "purpose-built" rack-mounted appliance that serves as a B2B gateway. In effect, it offloads the delivery of transactions in the EDI, AS2, AS3 formats, and the like. With version 3.8, IBM says it has "new and improved" B2B messaging protocol support.

Obviously, trying to craft a common thread out of this hodgepodge of announcements products would be extremely difficult. IBM's approach was to reiterate its leadership in the market for middleware, and to explain how it fits in with its "Smart Work" initiative.

One potentially useful tidbit dropped by IBM is how customers can use its "BPM BlueWorks" offering to model existing business processes, and to see how they might improve them. BPM BlueWorks, which is a cloud-based offering that's still in beta, allows users to see how their existing business processes stack up against different methodologies and industry "best practices." It can be accessed free of charge at www.bpmblueworks.com.

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
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