Software AG, IBM Work Together on E-Commerce Apps

IBM Corp. and Software AG plan to work together to help corporate software developers write component-based electronic commerce applications, the companies announced at Software AG's user conference here in Heidelberg, Germany, yesterday.

The companies' alliance aims to enable software developers writing e-commerce applications with Software AG's new product Bolero to create Enterprise JavaBean components, which will run in IBM mainframe environments using either its CICS transaction server or its Component Broker. JavaBeans are Sun Microsystems Inc.'s component model for the Java programming language.

"Software AG and IBM share the same vision of e-business and a belief in components," said Val Rahmani, IBM's vice president for high-end systems sales, Europe, Middle East and Africa. "Bolero is the way to do this."

"IBM is endorsing Bolero as the tool of choice for these environments," said Rainer Glaap, Bolero product manager at Software AG.

Compatibility between Bolero, Component Broker and CICS is accomplished through what Software AG is calling CLIPS -- Bolero Component Library Integration Package. The first market-ready products resulting from the cooperation between Software AG and IBM can be expected in 1999, Glaap said.

CICS is a mainframe-based transaction server. The Component Broker is middleware downloaded into a server which links databases and other back-end transaction processes to distributed applications. The Component Broker also lets programming languages C++ and Java interoperate.

The alliance with IBM shows Software AG's attempt to play both sides of the fence when it comes to what are being called the components wars -- the industry fight to decide the standard for writing software in components. Only yesterday, Software AG's chairman, Erwin Koenigs, said that Microsoft's DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) is crucial to its products, including EntireX middleware and Bolero. Today, IBM was crowing that Bolero supports Java Beans components, and its own Component Broker middleware, both based on CORBA (Common Request Object Broker Architecture).

To confuse Software AG's listeners even further, Eric Brown, analyst with the Forrester Group Inc., told the audience of over 200 users that they should definitely choose between the two object models over the next 12 months.

Brown predicted that 20 percent of Fortune 1000 companies would decide to ignore Java, 50 percent would "follow the herd" with Microsoft -- utilizing Java in a COM environment -- 25 percent would go with the CORBA variation of Java, and 5 percent, the Java purists, would follow Sun's lead.

But Software AG's Glaap told the users: "We've got no religion. You don't have to decide -- Software AG will decide for you," because its products will integrate both standards, so that the developers don't have to even worry about it.

Although 43 percent of 200 attendees polled at the conference said they were beginning to use component technology in some of their applications, the component wars seem to leave some users cold.

"We have not even begun to componentize," said Martin Tavener, systems services manager with the Reed Travel Group, based in the U.K.

"It's interesting to listen to, but a far cry from the way things look today," added Walter Strauss, database designer for Vienna-based Spardat, an IT services company.

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