IBM to offer ESB as part of SOA strategy

Paul Krill ist Redakteur unserer US-Schwesterpublikation InfoWorld.

As part of a multifaceted SOA software rollout, IBM on Tuesday will join the list of companies offering a product labeled as an ESB (enterprise service bus).

In addition to the new IBM WebSphere ESB, the announcement features a business process server, modeler, and monitor; a component assembler; and a set of best practices for SOA. All products are due in the fourth quarter of this year, with pricing to be set then as well.

"The major message is that business process management is a critical part of SOA and we have new products that are integrated and open around BPM," said Sandy Carter, vice president of strategy for channels and marketing at IBM. The company has tracked that it has more than 1,000 SOA customer engagements, she said.

While definitions can vary, an ESB is generally considered to be a Web services-based bus for integrating applications and processes in an SOA. Although WebSphere ESB officially is called an ESB, IBM maintains it already has had a product in the ESB space. That product, WebSphere Message Broker, supports Web services standards such as SOAP and WSDL as well as additional communications mechanisms such as BizTalk, Java Message Service, and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

But WebSphere ESB is limited to Web services protocols such as WSDL, SOAP, and BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) to offer connectivity and data transformation. "We"ve seen a trend in the marketplace for customers who are really looking for a more lightweight ESB product," Carter said.

Other vendors offering an ESB include Sonic Software, Cape Clear Software, and BEA Systems.

Also being unveiled Tuesday is WebSphere Process Server, which provides for the deployment of business processes such as opening a checking account or checking credit. It features WebSphere ESB embedded within it. The ESB can be deployed separately from Process Server for simple connections of applications to services.

Another product being introduced, WebSphere Business Modeler Version 6, models processes. An upgrade to an existing product, Version 6 features an enhanced user experience, more analytics and simulation and collaborative modeling for group-based development. A business dashboard provides feedback on key performance metrics.Â

IBM"s new WebSphere Integration Developer is a GUI-based tool that takes input from Business Modeler and provides for developing services or leveraging of existing services as part of an SOA. Components are assembled in the product. "This allows you to reuse components," said Carter. BPEL-based code is featured.

A new version of WebSphere Business Monitor is included in the rollout as a real-time monitoring of performance of processes.

IBM"s SOA Foundation, meanwhile, offers a set of integrated software and best practices for assembling, deploying and managing an SOA. Governance is featured.

"[SOA Foundation provides] more of a concept of what are the capabilities that you need to be successful," Carter said.

"Industry accelerators" are being provided as part of the rollout to serve as templates for setting up an SOA in industries such as banking. IBM also will offer free services under the umbrella of its "SOA Jumpstart" program. The services are intended to help customers get started on defining an SOA architecture, analyze needs such as governance and assess alignment of business and IT goals.

Phase 2 of IBM"s SOA Partner Initiative is being introduced to give IBM"s ISVs and regional system integrators skills in SOA. Among the companies already signed up are Adobe, Avaya, Blue Titan, and Cognos.