IBM adds turbo-charger to Websphere

IBM has started beta testing a software add-on for its Websphere application server that will help companies with large and...

IBM has started beta testing a software add-on for its Websphere application server that will help companies with large and complex computing environments to improve the uptime and performance of important applications.

Websphere XD is designed for customers with complex environments involving multiple application servers, and who have critical applications that see unpredictable surges in demand, such as financial services companies, online retailers and auctions.

The software is in beta testing at 10 IBM customer sites and is scheduled for general availability in the fourth quarter, said Bob Sutor, director of Websphere software at IBM. The first versions will be for Linux, Windows, AIX and Solaris, with other platforms to follow, he said.

The software will monitor the performance and efficiency of systems and rebalance or farm out heavy workloads to servers and software that has spare capacity. Network managers can choose to manually approve any changes or have them take place automatically, Sutor said.

The software can also partition large jobs over multiple processors, databases and application servers to provide the best level of  performance, and can prioritise a workload based on the relative importance of an application to a business process, he said.

"This is for our most demanding Websphere customers. I think of it as an add-on pack that turbo-charges Websphere," he said.

If the servers in a designated cluster are insufficient for the workload at hand, the software can also be used in conjunction with IBM's Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator to provision other servers outside of the cluster and assign work to those servers, he said.

Cigna Healthcare worked with IBM engineers on a proof-of-concept system using a test version of Websphere XD. It hopes to link together 37 applications that comprise its Cigna.com website and reduce the amount of hardware it needs to run them during peak times, IBM said.

The software rounds out IBM's application server offerings for the high end and builds on its "autonomic" initiative to provide systems that anticipate performance bottlenecks and other problems and heal them automatically, said Shawn Willett, a principal analyst with Current Analysis.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Services

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