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IBM Embraces SOA / Web Services...In a Bear-Hug

Steve Mills, SVP and Group Executive, IBM Software Group, Heads Up IBM Frontal Assault on SOA

IBM is embracing SOA...in a bear hug. In a teleconference today fronted by Steve Mills (pictured), Senior Vice President and Group Executive, IBM Software Group and the General Manager of WebSphere, Robert LeBlanc, it was manifestly apparent that the company – which considers itself the world's leading provider of technologies that support Business Integration and Business Process Integration – is not looking over its shoulder, not at Oracle, SAP, BEA, Microsoft nor anyone else. And IBM Global Services turns out to be the secret ingredient of Blue's software portfolio "realignment."

The call was intended to be the public "coming out" of IBM's massive new Software & Services "double whammy" and it certainly lived up to all expectations. Never before had so many new pieces of the enterprise software jigsaw been presented by one company at one and the same time. The participating journalists may have tripped over some of the many new product names like "WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus" and "WebSphere Process Server," but not Mills and LeBlanc.

“The new software and services we are announcing today build on IBM’s leadership," Mills announced, as he led off the call. "We have the most comprehensive set of capabilities for business process management and integration in the marketplace today.”

"Taken in its totality," he continued, "this is the broadest set of offerings for implementing SOAs in the industry today."

IBM is "building out a position of leadership," Mills stressed, before handing over to Robert LeBlanc, General Manager of WebSphere, to flesh out the myriad details of today's announcement. But before he did so, Mills made one thing clear: the role of IBM Global Services in IBM's SOA strategy is what means that the company doesn't feel in the slightest "boxed in" by Oracle...or anyone else.

The announcements clearly show the massive interplay between IBM as technology provider and IBM as provider of industry/consulting skills. And that, Mills knows, makes IBM a very compelling competitor, as well as making it uniquely suited to recruiting new customers: "We believe this expands the aperture for the types and sizes of businesses that can take advantage of SOA," he said; and IBM aims to be the first thing anyone sees as that aperture opens!

Robert LeBlanc quickly took everyone through the fourfold IBM frontal assault on SOA, whereby IBM customers would be enabled to model, assemble, deploy and manage SOA as they look for results from their IT.

To model SOAs, IBM is offering WebSphere Business Modeler, LeBlanc said, "an easy to use tool that enables both business and IT to model and design the process flow before deployment, and complements SOA modeling capabilities of Rational Software Architect."

"To assemble SOAs," he continued, "we're announcing WebSphere Integration Developer, an Eclipse-based application development tool to build and deploy business processes based on SOA. (To further help customers assemble SOAs, IBM has also released a new version of its Rational Application Developer product, he added.)

"To help clients deploy SOAs, IBM is announcing WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)," LeBlanc explained, together with a new version of WebSphere Message Broker and some new, open-standards based software powered by WebSphere ESB called WebSphere Process Server "that helps simplify the integration of business processes that span people, systems, customers and business partners," as LeBlanc expressed it.

When it came to question time, it was not surprisingly the ESB parts of the announcement that seemed to cause the greatest stir. Especially since IBM had always until now deemed ESB "merely" an abstraction, a "pattern" not a product category.

Web Services Journal asked LeBlanc and Mills what IBM would say to those who might be worrying that, so far as the Enterprise Service Bus part of this SOA announcement goes, WebSphere Message Broker is more just a messaging bridge than a true ESB, and that really this remains a bit of a “hole” in its SOA offering?

Continued on next page... 

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