In an effort to speed implementation of service-oriented architecture among its customers, IBM today announced 11 new products and 20 enhancements to its WebSphere-based software as well as beefed up consulting services to be rolled out over the next six months.
Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software Group, acknowledge that the general SOA software market is not mature, but said the tools announced today will help customers get started with SOA.
"The market is still in the early stages," he said, while touting what he called "the breadth and depth" of IBM integration and transaction processing software and labeling Big Blue's SOA products and services as "second to none."
Regarding the market in general, Mills was more optimistic than those who question the capabilities of current SOA software to meet business demands.
"Tools are keeping pace with where the customers are," he said. Mills sees the SOA market pulling the software industry out of the single digit growth it has seen since the 2001 recession and propelling it into double digit growth. He said IBM is betting big on SOA with a $1 billion per year investment in new products and service offerings.
Along with the software enhancements, Robert LeBlanc, general manager, IBM WebSphere software, said IBM is involved in a massive SOA education program aimed at training 90,000 of the company's business consultants for coming implementations.
LeBlanc did not try to cover the 31 new products and enhancements in the one hour press conference, choosing to hit some highlights.
Based on its own best practices experience and third party research IBM has identified common business needs that spur SOA development including projects that focus on serving processes involving people such as store clerks and customers, processing needs, and information management needs, LeBlanc said. IT is also looking at SOA for connectivity and application reuse, he said.
IBM's SOA software upgrades and additional services are aimed at customers wanting to start projects focused on these areas.
For architects and developers of what Big Blue refers to as the people-centric approach to SOA, including Ajax user interfaces, the company announced WebSphere Portal version 6.0, which integrates IBM Workplace and collaborative technologies for building composite applications tailored to a specific industry or a person's role or tasks within an organization.
For those working on process-centric projects, IBM is releasing WebSphere Business Monitor 6.0 with new features including alerts and links to third-party reports for applications that provide historical analysis, status tracking and project metrics.
SOA projects with what IBM calls "an information-centric approach" are the target for models the software group has tailored to several vertical industries. The company said it has enhanced its Banking Information FrameWork and Insurance Application Architecture models.
For architects banking on leveraging application reuse in SOA projects, LeBlanc said IBM had upgraded the reuse capabilities in WebSphere Application Server 6.1 and WebSphere Commerce 6.0. New features in the application server include session initiation protocol (SIP) servlets aimed at making it easier to add applications such as instant messaging, voice and video within the SOA.
The new version of WebSphere Commerce includes tools for developing an online store with added customer service features.
The list of new products is in fact so extensive that IBM did not have it fully completed for today's press conference. IBM has begun to make a habit out of these sorts of blunderbuss announcements, with one built around an enterprise service bus offering last September and another around SOA governance just two weeks ago.
Despite broad nature of these announcements, ZapThink LLC senior analyst Jason Bloomberg praised Big Blue, saying "IBM is 'doubling down' on their SOA bet with an improved, comprehensive software and services story around SOA. … We applaud IBM for bringing together so many parts of their organization into a coherent story and offering based on SOA.