WebSphere takes a turn to the enterprise

Corporate users say advancements and tools added to WebSphere are making IBM's application server a more usable platform for e-business.IBM plans to ship early next month Version 3.

Corporate users say advancements and tools added to WebSphere are making IBM's application server a more usable platform for e-business.

IBM plans to ship early next month Version 3.0 of the EJB (Enterprise JavaBean) server, which also supports Java servlets and JSPs (Java Server Pages).

In addition to the upgrade, IBM has tightly integrated its VisualAge for Java 3.0 development tool and WebSphere Studio 3.0, a visual layout tool for building Web pages with JSPs, JavaScript, HTML and Dynamic HTML. A WebSphere Performance Pack also will be available for the upgrade.

"VisualAge for Java has been very well integrated with WebSphere to support [Java servlet and JSP development]," said Rabindra Kar, senior consultant for the financial services group at Computer Sciences Corp., of Austin, Texas. "In general, it's not easy to develop and debug Java servlets and JSPs. IBM in VisualAge has gone out of its way to make it easier for the developer."

CSC, which provides technology design, development, integration and implementation services, uses WebSphere for application testing.

Because CSC works with EJBs, WebSphere has been helpful in providing an up-to-date platform for deploying applications built with the enterprise component model, according to Kar. The server supports EJB 1.0.

"The EJB specification is somewhat of a moving target, so it's very important to us that the application server support keeps pace with the spec," Kar said.

For scalability, WebSphere 3.0 customers will be able to run multiple servers on one CPU or multiple servers on multiple CPUs, IBM officials said.

"In connecting to our back end, being able to scale across multiple systems is a very important issue," said Erica Quintana, director of R&D at CSC.

Sally Cusack, an analyst for International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass., said the upgrade places WebSphere on a par with products from other leading application server vendors, including Sun Micro systems Inc., BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp.

"I think with Version 3.0, they've filled a lot of the holes in the product line, and I'd say WebSphere is definitely one of the front-runners," Cusack said.

Version 3.0 of WebSphere Application Server, Advanced Edition, will sell for $7,500 per processor on AIX, Windows NT and Solaris. A standard edition of the same server will be available on the same platforms for $795 per processor. The WebSphere Performance Pack will sell for $7,999 per installation.

VisualAge for Java 3.0 will be available in an enterprise and a professional edition at $2,999 and $149 per copy, respectively. WebSphere Studio 3.0 is priced at $495 per copy.

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., can be contacted at (800) 426-3333 or www. ibm.com.