IBM Pitches WebSphere, Rational Tools to Help Manage Through Tough Economy

At an IBM-hosted Webinar, executives from IBM's WebSphere and Rational units helped outline ways enterprises can leverage these tools and platforms to reduce costs and increase efficiency through the current economic climate.

Increased support for service-oriented architecture and Web 2.0 in the latest releases of WebSphere Application Server (version 7) and Rational Application Developer (version 7.5) enable enterprises to cut development time and focus more on business problems, says Chris Brealey, senior technical staff member with IBM Rational Software. "There are a number of characteristics that we look for in a development environment and in middleware to help ourselves improve productivity and improve efficiency and to do our best in an unhealthy economy, or in any economy for that matter," he explains. "At IBM, we strongly believe in service-oriented architecture and Web 2.0 as two styles or sets of principles that are extremely complementary and both endeavor to provide a means for you to achieve great agility and great heterogeneity."

Key features that enable support for these initiatives in Rational include support for Ajax-for building rich clients that mimic standard client/server interfaces - as well as capabilities based on the Java EE 5 enterprise platform. These two worlds are brought together via Service Component Architecture (SCA), Brealey adds. "SCA in the middle helps it in some way to mesh with these two other frameworks." SCA is a set of language-independent specifications that describe a model for building applications and systems using SOA.

Support for Ajax and Web 2.0-style programming is also embedded in the latest release of WebSphere Application Server, says Erik Kristiansen, product manager for IBM WebSphere Application Server. "We built in things that make developers' lives easier lead to productivity, and encourage new application scenarios such as Web 2.0," he says. WebSphere also supports SCA, he explains. "Service component architecture is an open standards programming model developed by a number of vendors in the open, specifically to address the requests of SOA programming. SOA can lead to more productivity and agility for your development teams."

In addition, Kristiansen says, "WAS 7 was built on an OSGi foundation, which allows us to selectively start up components. That way the application server only starts up and puts into memory what's really required by the application. That can lead to a smaller footprint, a lighter-weight server, which leads to less hardware utilization and hopefully lower costs."

The major thrust of IBM's WebSphere and Rational strategies involve SOA, Brealey and Kristiansen concur. "The principles of SOA can help you to adapt to change. It can help you to lead change. SOA principles help you to reduce operating costs through reuse of your existing assets and extending the reach of your existing assets to wider consumers on your business. It can improve your general competitiveness and lower cost, and raise agility, reuse, and fundamentally revenue. Any good SOA deployment relies on a decent understanding of what makes a good service."

Kristiansen says IBM regards Web 2.0 as an extension of SOA, and this relationship is built into WebSphere and Rational. "The Web 2.0 platform is largely a complementary or an extension of the SOA foundation," he says. "The term 'Web 2.0' is used for many different things in the industry now. As far as app infrastructure, largely when you're talking about Web 2.0, you're talking about rich Internet applications, or Ajax development, and the idea of extending services out to new consumers of applications through new protocols such as REST, Atom and RSS web feeds. What we've done in the WebSphere and Rational portfolio are largely focused on those two ideas."

For more information on IBM WebSphere Application Server, go here.

For more information on IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere, go here.