IBM and BEA to cut cost of distributed J2EE

To make Web services more scalable, BEA and IBM are selling cache technology that should eliminate the need to duplicate databases

IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic Web services engines will gain the ability to distribute transactions across multiple offices, without supporting multiple replicas of their databases, using software from cache specialist Persistence Software. The deal should save users money, by allowing distributed systems to use smaller servers in branch offices.

"To distribute transactional applications, people have thrown tin at it (by running copies of the database in every office)," said Lalit Nathwani, business development director (Europe) for Persistence. "But people don't want more data centres. They want to consolidate."

"A financial system that replicates the whole database to every broker would cost about $1m per centre. With Persistence, it can be done for $200,000 per site," said Nathwani.

Next June, both IBM and BEA will be co-marketing Persistence's EdgeXtend module for their Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) Web services products. The module, currently in beta test, will be important as J2EE vendors compete with Microsoft's .Net Web services model, said Nathwani, as it will improve scalability and performance. It supports transactions by enforcing consistency between distributed caches.

Until now EdgeXtend has been part of Persistence's own distributed applications systems. The company has been a supporting player in moves towards distributed applications since it was formed in 1991, and has around 200 large users as customers, including Reuters which uses Persistence products in its Instinet service, and Federal Express, which uses them to deliver package tracking information which users can query over the Web. Gartner Group has predicted that software for Web services will be a $1.7bn market in 2003.

This move represents an effort to bring its technology onto what it hopes will be a bigger stage - IBM and BEA hope to have tens of thousands of sites using J2EE next year. A small percentage of the revenue from those sites would have a major impact on Persistence's earnings next year, said Nathwani.

The module will work with other J2EE servers such as Novell's iPlanet, though Persistence does not yet have a relationship with Novell.

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