IBM pumps up WebSphere offering

Looking to make WebSphere the Internet application server of choice, IBM is adding a wide range of features and is expected to announce it will now become the centrepiece for IBM's Web-to-host, server load balancing, and Internet integration products.

IBM over the last year has steadily folded all its other Web business software lines, such as the Net.Commerce electronic storefront suite, into the WebSphere brand. It has also been expanding the product toolkit features, so IS staff can plug WebSphere into a wide array of homegrown business applications and make them e-business ready.

"It's not just an application server, but a whole platform," said Paraic Sweeney, a vice president at IBM.

"This is a big transition and an acceleration - it's a new class of middleware."

Down the line, enterprises will be able to use the WebSphere platform for a variety of tasks. For example, it will translate voice calls from wireless phones into e-mail messages via XML, Sweeney said.

Leading the announcement list is the rollout of WebSphere Application Server 3.5. The product will now run on HP-UX and Windows 2000, and Linux flavours Caldera and Red Hat - in addition to AIX and Windows NT. It also has been beefed up to more efficiently exploit applications such as Lotus Domino, the IBM VisualAge for Java toolkit, and the WebSphere Commerce Suite.

IBM will also offer a special WebSphere Portal Server feature for internal or external Web sites. This would ensure that if an employee in a certain department logged on to a company's internal portal they would only access resources appropriate to them.

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