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From mainframes to iPhones and beyond: IBM preps mobile SOA connection

IBM is going mobile with service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on WebSphere. That means mainframe apps, among others, will soon be coming to the business user's RIM Blackberry, Apple iPhone and Google Android.

IBM said it has created developer tools to support a new set of software and services for mobile devices. This will put business process management and business event processing in the palm of business executives hands, says Sandy Carter, vice president for SOA and WebSphere strategy.

WebSphere Business Monitor links BlackBerry devices to back office applications so business executives and consumers can check sales metrics or their bank balances on the run wherever they are.

iPhone connectivity won't be generally available until the fourth quarter of this year, but composite applications like those IBM describes may help make the iPhone platform an enterprise client, not just a stylish technology gadget. WebSphere Business Monitor provides the notifications and the dashboards and reports now go to a Blackberry, with iPhone support to follow.

The new software bridging mainframe to mobile includes IBM Rational Business Developer, a tool for creating Web 2.0 mobile applications using Big Blue's new Enterprise Generation Language (EGL). Downloadable from the IBM alphaWorks project, platform independent EGL applications can run on mainframe or mobile, Carter said.

"With EGL developers don't have to worry about the platform," she explained. "They write the application so it works on a mobile and it can extend whatever they have, whether it's something from the mainframe or a pSeries [Unix] box. They don't have to worry or be familiar with the underpinning middleware or platform technology. They write it and it's platform independent."

Carter said the new IBM mobile initiative puts business event processing - Big Blue's moniker for a subset of complex event processing (CEP) - in the palm of their hands.

"Business events are about capturing patterns for really insightful business analysis of all the events running through our ESB," Carter said. "IBM's mobile initiative allows you to look at events that are not just coming in from your corporate ESB but through events that are triggered by a mobile device. So our business event software combined with the mobile software can help you identify patterns and trigger business decisions."

This is already happening in places like Japan and South Korea where consumers walking through a shopping area with their iPhones get e-coupons from the retail stores as they pass by, she said. Combining GPS capabilities with business event processing makes it possible for a retail store owner to fine tune e-coupons to meet immediate market conditions.

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While IBM's mobile initiative is not directly connected to cloud computing and does not yet have a connection to the Google Android mobile platform, there is a synergistic relationship.

The proliferation of mobile computing is a driver for cloud computing, said Dennis Quan, director of development in IBM's Autonomic Computing division. The rising demand of millions of mobile executives, workers, and consumers requires the kind of computing power the cloud can deliver, he said.

"Google's Android project and other mobile initiatives are the driving force behind the development of cloud computing because they are really creating the kinds of scalability requirements that are needed for the next generation of data centers," Quan explained.

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