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IBM gives developers sneak peek of WebSphere V6 with J2EE 1.4

Developers can get a sneak peek of J2EE 1.4 with a download of IBM's preview release of WebSphere V6, which isn't slated for general release until later this year.

Developers can now get their hands on an early version of IBM's WebSphere Application Server V6 -- the first major vendor-released software suite to be Java 2 Enterprise Edition-compliant.

The download, available on IBM's DeveloperWorks site, gives developers the ability to start working immediately with the new J2EE 1.4 standard on the WebSphere Application Server code base, said Bob Sutor, director of IBM's WebSphere software unit.

"We want to get this in the hands of developers," Sutor said. "We want them to kick the tires, get them on the new technology and prepare for the full product release, which will happen in the second half of the year."

This is a core piece of Web-based technology, said Jason Bloomberg, a senior analyst with research firm ZapThink LLC, Waltham, Mass. While IBM is clearly the largest player in the application server software market, it does have its competition, namely from BEA Systems Inc., which sells WebLogic, and from Microsoft, with its .NET platform. Bloomberg said that IBM has to make sure the tools are available for developers and ISVs to play with -- even though this downloadable code is really a stripped-down version of the final release.

"This is all about customer acceptance," he said. "IBM wants to make sure they're not losing mind share to BEA or Microsoft."

WebSphere V6 is IBM's next-generation integration platform for building out service-oriented architectures (SOAs), with support for new Web services standards, the latest J2EE Connector Adapter specifications, plus other features that will be included in the full version.

In an SOA world, business tasks are accomplished by executing a series of "services," or jobs that have well-defined ways of communicating. These services increasingly are required for IT shops where software and hardware from multiple vendors are deployed and systems are created by different development teams.

Probably the most important component to this release of WebSphere is the support for J2EE 1.4, Bloomberg said. J2EE is a key platform for developing Web services applications, and J2EE 1.4 was recently approved through Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java Community Process. J2EE 1.4 offers support for the J2EE Connector Adapter (JCA) 1.5, which allows for the integration of disparate enterprise applications, such as software from SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc.

Equally important is that J2EE 1.4 supports the WS-I's Basic Profile. The Basic Profile is a set of guidelines that lets companies test and certify that Web services technologies are interoperable with other platforms. The WS-I, or Web Services Interoperability Organization, is supported by IBM, among others.

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