IBM highlights services, business processes and cloud computing at Impact 2011

IBM rolled out WebSphere middleware updates at Impact 2011. The Cloudburst 'cloud-in-a-box' appliance has been renamed the IBM Workload Deployer and now supports virtual images and more.

IBM rolled out WebSphere middleware updates at Impact 2011 this week in Las Vegas. The company renamed its Cloudburst 'cloud-in-a-box' appliance as the IBM Workload Deployer and enhanced it to support IBM middleware virtual images, design patterns and new Tivoli management capabilities. IBM also launched versions of the WebSphere DataPower appliance with new high-availability traits.

Impact saw significant updates to the IBM Integration Designer, as well as the first signs of an integrated BPM suite that matches established IBM process management software with BPM software the company purchased along with Lombardi Software in late 2009.

Steve Mills

Behind the WebSphere and related updates there is a common thread, according to Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Software & Systems (shown here). Connecting processes and services remains a major goal of customers, he said.

There is a consistent call to support integrated business processes, Mills continued. In effect, users want applications to act as services to support processes.

"As a business you want to own your process --  you want to own your data. And you want your processes to run seamlessly and as fluidly as possible in support of your business goals and objectives," said Mills in an Impact press conference.

"Your applications are therefore, in a sense, services in support of those processes. The idea is to be able to elementally link application functions -- one piece to the next -- to create effective business process flows for your company," he said. Cloud computing carries some of these notions further ahead, Mills suggested.  Cloud Deployer is IBM's latest take on how integration, services and process will happen in the cloud.

Workloads in the cloud; BPM suite spots

As middleware becomes more prominent in more enterprises, complex middleware provisioning has become a deployment bottleneck. The problem seems at least equally acute on the cloud. IBM's Workload Deployer acts as a platform allowing teams to provision middleware and application components on the cloud across multiple systems or hypervisors.

Workload Deployer comes pre-loaded with WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition virtual images, as well a "Workload Deployer Pattern for Web applications" aimed at common deployment scenarios. Drag and drop tooling is included for assembling virtual images.

When IBM purchased best-of-breed BPM tool vendor Lombardi, its goal was—in  part—to tap into the then-growing trend for business users to make the BPM software buying decisions. At Impact 2011, IBM disclosed progress to unify its two BPM families.

Lombardi came into the IBM camp with a whole set of modeling tools that worked differently than IBM's process management modelers. A step toward unification can be garnered in IBM's announcement of a single repository working across Lombardi Teamworks and WebSphere Process Server, writes Forrester's Clay Richardson in a blog entry. Still to come is the unification of the underlying process engines.

"We [expect] IBM to communicate a strategy or vision for merging the engines," notes Forrester's Richardson in his blog entry.

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