IBM App Server 6.0 Open To Standards

IBM has been touting its support of open standards in its software for several years. But critics have long charged that IBM's WebSphere stack is far from being an integrated software infrastructure. Instead, they say, IBM merged a bunch of software written on disparate code bases under one brand.

Unveiled last week, version 6.0 of the application server--the foundation of the WebSphere stack--is expected to quell some of those concerns with an improved messaging framework and other technologies that will lend greater support to open standards, said Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere foundation software for IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

Peter Underwood, managing partner of systems integrator Jensyn, Rockville Center, N.Y., said BEA WebLogic used to be the application server of choice because it was a better product overall. But IBM began getting its act together in the last version of its application server by boosting the software's clustering ability and supporting the Eclipse open-source integrated development environment. He expects version 6.0 to offer even more.

"I prefer WebSphere these days because it stacks up [to the competition]," Underwood said. "In the old days, it didn't."

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IBM rewrote the messaging engine of version 6.0 in Java, and in a modular form that allows support for any messaging standard to be included as a plug-in, Sutor said.

The vendor also beefed up clustering capabilities in 6.0 through a "high-availability manager" that allows one application server to better manage application servers running in clusters, Sutor said. The manager also includes self-healing features that will move application server workloads around appropriately in case of a performance failure.

Version 6.0 supports the latest Java and Web services standards. The product will be compatible with J2EE 1.4, and will support UDDI 3.0, WS-Transactions and the WS-I Basic Profile 1.1. These standards lay the groundwork for solution providers to build service-oriented architectures (SOAs), Sutor said.

WebSphere Application Server version 6.0 is slated to ship by the end of the year, at which time pricing will be available.