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IBM puts SOA-enabled portals on the mainframe

Web services portal functionality now can reside on IBM mainframes, still using Java portlets and open standards to ferry and aggregate information into the Big Iron environment.

The service-oriented architecture movement at IBM made some new strides today, as Big Blue announced its WebSphere Portal product is now available for iSeries servers and zSeries mainframes.

The portal offers content management and workflow capabilities with support for standards such as Web Services Resource Framework and the JSR-170 Java content repository specification.

What we're really doing is building out components of an overall infrastructure capable of supporting an SOA.
John Caffrey
Program Director for WebSphere Portal and Content Management ProductsIBM

By extending portal functionality to mainframes, IBM is making old-world hardware accessible by modern architectures, continuing its push to fold every part of IT into the realm of SOA.

"It's a recommitment on our part to those two platforms," said John Caffrey, program director for IBM WebSphere Portal and content management products.

The iSeries is better known by many as the AS/400 line, while zSeries is the traditional mainframe. Both trace their roots back to the pre-client/server, heavy input/output days of computing.

Much of the pitch around Web services is that they will unlock many of the legacy applications residing on such machines. Yet this move clearly indicates that IBM sees a place for the machines themselves in an SOA.

"What we're really doing is building out components of an overall infrastructure capable of supporting an SOA," Caffrey said.

The importance of renewed relevance in a rapidly changing IT world has not been lost on Big Blue. Yet Caffrey argued widespread functionality ultimately will prove to be the thing that makes SOA relevant.

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"The only way an SOA is going to be successful is if it's going to be plug-and-play," he said. "The different components need to be standards based and capable of fitting in wherever you need them."

Recently, JBoss Inc. released its latest open source Java portal while Microsoft's SharePoint portal has been the fastest growing member of the Redmond software giant's product line. Caffrey acknowledged that such market challenges will force IBM to continue to drive the functionality of its portal into new places and constantly give it deeper hooks into a Web services framework. IBM leads with 21.6% of the portal market according to Gartner Inc.

"While it's still a standalone product and it will continue to be a standalone product for some time, you'll probably see the portal collapse down a bit into the application server or the process integration server," Caffrey said. "Integration is the key."

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