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IBM partners around SOA, re-commits to Java

Big Blue is allying with 61 partners, independent software vendors and systems integrators to deliver tools, education and resources to help ease SOA deployments.

SAN FRANCISCO – Not to be left out on the open-source, partner-together party that was this year's JavaOne conference, IBM unveiled its plans to enable its flagship WebSphere middleware line to play with a wider variety of business partners, independent software vendors and systems integrators.

SOA is about building applications based on business processes, not what the technology can do.
Robert LeBlanc
WebSphere Group ChiefIBM

In all, 62 companies will be folded into the initial implementation, including service-oriented registry vendors like Systinet Corp., Infravio Inc. and SOA Software Inc. Some of the "no-cost" services available include business planning, technical enablement and co-marketing through IBM's PartnerWorld Industry Networks.

"Business is moving faster than IT," said Robert LeBlanc, the chief of IBM's WebSphere group, during his JavaOne keynote speech. "We've got to make it easier to integrate our IT resources."

He added that customers "want to mix and match the new with the old," continuing a theme that had been sounded by Sun Microsystems Inc., BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp. earlier in the conference. Quick and re-configurable deployment was the consistent sounding board for each of the major vendors.

LeBlanc also highlighted IBM's growing presence in the open source arena.

Looking to diversify its portfolio of high end products, in May, IBM acquired El Segundo, Calif.-based Gluecode Software Inc., which provides software based on the open source Apache Geronimo application server. The Gluecode assets and support model will comprise the "low end" of IBM's WebSphere line of products, LeBlanc said.

"Geronimo will accelerate Java adoption in the open source community," he added.

Driving SOA adoption is also high up on IBM's agenda. LeBlanc unveiled a new website geared towards educating customers and developers on service orientation. "SOA is about building applications based on business processes, not what the technology can do," he said. "You need to start with what you have."

LeBlanc emphasized platform independence as the key to playing in a more loosely coupled world. An application's useful shelf-life should "not be based on where the application is written or how easy it is to decompose an application and pull out the parts you need."

He also took a jab at "the red team sitting in Redmond" for not supporting a mutli-vendor, multi-framework future.

Earlier in the week, Sun President Jonathan Schwartz expressed his belief that varied tools would create simplicity in the SOA market, which he viewed as lacking at the moment.

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Learn more about IBM's acquisition of Gluecode

"Every CIO we run into has a SOA problem," Schwartz said. "It's not well-understood and we have to demonstrate how they can begin to adopt this architecture."

One IBM customer, Standard Life, developed over 300 services in Java which allowed them to build 70 different SOA channel applications, according to LeBlanc.

Adding to the chorus of Java well-wishers, LeBlanc said that Java, which received a lot of negative buzz when it was conceived a decade ago, has proven itself in the real world.

LeBlanc cited compatibility, community, creativity, productivity and performance as the underlying mantras behind IBM's support for Java, which it is re-licensing for the next 10 years.

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