IBM is working on a componentised version of WebSphere that will enable users to mix and match functions from across IBM's complete portfolio of server applications.
The new iteration, codenamed Vela, will allow users to import core functions from IBM's Tivoli, Lotus Notes, and DB2 as needed, extending the capabilities of WebSphere to meet specific application needs.
"Vela is the next generation of application servers, and in our particular case, it will serve as the universal foundation for the software group's products," said Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere software at IBM.
The mixing and matching allowed by Vela is intended to encourage corporate users to move toward on-demand computing, where shuttling in a variety of applications and computing power is a way of life.
"What Vela is providing on one hand is a foundation for the software group, but it is going to be part of the foundation for what we are doing with On Demand, grid, and autonomic computing as well. It will also fit in with service-oriented architectures and some things we will deliver there next year," Sutor said.
The industry's long-held dream of creating widely accepted componentised architectures and applications has remained just that. But with Vela, IBM intends to avoid some of the development missteps of the past.
Sutor said that vital technical pieces - such as service-oriented architectures and XML - are now in place to help crystallise componentisation.
"A lot of the reason why componentisation did not work was that the pieces were not loosely coupled enough. There were too many dependencies among the pieces in terms of understanding how you talk to them as well as the way you connected them," Sutor said.
IDC analyst Dennis Byron said that other application server suppliers, namely BEA Systems and Oracle, are moving toward componentising their offerings.
"Component technology has advanced from all the promises of the late 1990s," he added.
Last week IBM announced its support for web services security standards across its WebSphere infrastructure and Tivoli identity management products. Company officials hope this will extend the middleware platforms for building more secure service-oriented architectures.
Vela is due out in the second half of 2004.
Ed Scannell writes for InfoWorld