The move promises to open IBM's proprietary e-business platform to business-to-business (B2B) services provision without requiring current users to totally re-engineer applications.
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IBM's new Technology for Developers, which can be downloaded free from the Web, provides the necessary extensions for the Websphere server platform to allow developers to create Web-based services built on the same open standards employed by other e-business environments, such as Microsoft's .net and Sun One.
This opens the door to the kind of interoperability demanded by the business exchanges where the arrival of new customers and changes in suppliers have to be accommodated on a regular basis, even though they may be based on a different e-business system.
To complement the new features, IBM's Studio Technology for Webservices toolset is being updated and a preview version can be downloaded from www. alphaworks.ibm.com for Linux, Windows NT or Windows 2000.
Tony Occleshaw, marketing manager with IBM's European software business, said the range of platforms supported will grow to reflect the 35 hardware platforms currently supported by Websphere.
He said, "Until now extranet links to Websphere business partners' applications had to be individually hard-coded, which meant they were not particularly flexible and required an understanding of each application.
"Open standards means that new or existing Websphere users can find suitable partners dynamically on trading hubs [exchanges] and e-business links can be developed and changed quickly," he added.