IBM plans WebSphere for Web services

IBM is working to develop new software combining elements of its WebSphere and Tivoli product lines designed to allow companies...

IBM is working to develop new software combining elements of its WebSphere and Tivoli product lines designed to allow companies to monitor and bill for Web services.

Known as Project Allegro, the effort aims to provide an infrastructure for hosting Web-based applications and services, said Bob Sutor, IBM's director of e-business standards strategy. One example could be a Web-based application run by a bank that gives people access to their banking information using standards-based transactions to collect data from multiple sources.

Allegro will be able to monitor the health of the Web service, record how often customers access the service, and manage the process for charging and billing customers that access a service through what IBM calls "electronic contracts". Those contracts could be designed to charge users per transaction or on a subscription basis, Sutor said.

"Ultimately you want to get paid, and want to make sure the right people at the right organisations get the right access to a Web service. Collectively we call this hosting," Sutor said.

The billing contracts could also be more complex, for example, allowing companies to offer discounts to customers if a Web service doesn't perform with the speed and quality that was advertised.

"You could say that for every transaction that takes longer than 15 seconds, I get a discount," Sutor said, noting that the monitoring aspect of Allegro will provide this information.

Using standard technologies such as XML and Soap the software is being designed to manage any number of Web-based applications no matter where they reside, whether it be on a company's internal servers or elsewhere on the Web.

Customers most suited to use Allegro would include carriers that provide wireless services to customers; application service providers that host things like customer relationship management software; as well as enterprises that use Web services internally to allow data to be shared across disparate servers, according to IBM.

"These are going to be requirements for people that are going to be deploying Web services," Sutor said.

The software will combine pieces of IBM's WebSphere application server and portal server, in addition to its Tivoli management and security software. An early implementation of the concept was embodied in a project IBM detailed late last year called the Web Services Hosting Technology, Sutor said.

IBM will make the software available in its test version on the IBM DeveloperWorks Web site by the end of the year under a limited licence that allows users to test the software. A final release is due out early next year, and pricing and availability has not yet been determined, IBM said.

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