IBM’s Swainson: WebSphere Commerce Express On Tap

Product slated to be available by year's end

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IBM later this year plans to add WebSphere Commerce to its Express line of products, and will follow that up with other WebSphere software releases for the midmarket, IBM's WebSphere chief told CRN Monday.

John Swainson, general manager for the application and integration middleware division of the IBM Software Group, said WebSphere Commerce, Express Edition, is on tap for later this year. However, he did not go into specifics about pricing or availability.

Swainson also said IBM is pondering the release of other Express products, but again did not divulge specific plans.

"You're going to see particularly with the low end of the market a lot of flexibility of pricing on IBM's part, with no impediments to customers who want to start using [the products]," Swainson said. "There are a bunch more [in the works], but I don't want to speculate. We have a rigorous process we put products through. Express is not just a pricing deal, it's ease of use and terms and conditions and packaging. It's a rigorous process we put products through."

IBM already has made available Express versions of its WebSphere Business Connect, WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Portal.

Also expected down the line are Express versions of DB2, IBM Lotus Domino Collaboration, IBM Tivoli Storage Resource Manager and IBM Content Manager, as previously reported by CRN.

Swainson said the technical integration of key components of IBM's WebSphere line, including the application server, developer tools, portal server and integration software acquired from Crossworlds last year, would be complete by the end of the year.

IBM has often been criticized for the technical disparity of its WebSphere products, which traditionally have been a collection of products that don't share the same runtime. IBM has been working for the past year to amend this issue by basing all future versions of WebSphere products on a common application server foundation, starting with WebSphere Application Server Version 5, released in February.

"I understand my competitors' favorite knock on IBM is we have this loosely bundled bucket of bolts," Swainson said. "But last year we grew by 20 percent and they shrank. Whether they think it's loosely coupled or not, customers are buying it because it solves business problems."

In addition to WebSphere Application Server, version 5 of the WebSphere Studio toolset also was made available in February. Looking ahead, IBM's WebSphere Portal, currently at version 4.2, will be available in version 5 and built on version 5 of the application server by the end of the year, Swainson said.

Similarly, IBM plans to release version 5 of its WebSphere Business Integration suite, which runs on the latest application server in the same time frame, Swainson said. Business Integration is comprised of former Crossworlds products and currently at version 4, he said.

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