IBM has announced support of open Internet standards for all its major software products as well as new software tools to help users connect applications via the Web, creating so-called Web services.
Products supporting open standards include IBM's WebSphere Application Server and DB2 database; Tivoli Systems' management tools; and the groupware products made by Lotus Development, also part of IBM.
The new software tools are designed to enable businesses to create, publish, securely deploy, host and manage Web services, IBM officials said.
Supporting open standards, such as UDDI (universal description discovery and integration), SOAP (simple object access protocol), J2EE (Java2 enterprise edition), WSDL (Web services description language), and XML (extensible markup language), eliminates the expensive custom coding currently required to connect enterprise applications.
IBM is, with its support for Web services, entering a field that already has several players, including Microsoft with .Net and Sun Microsystems with its Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE).
Among the slew of product announcements was WebSphere Application Server Version 4, which through the open standards will connect with business applications from various vendors, including SAP AG and PeopleSoft. Version 4, available on June 30, can also interface with a public UDDI directory, IBM said. An example of a UDDI directory is the yellow pages-style business-to-business directory launched by Ariba, Microsoft and IBM on May 2.
Other product updates and introductions announced include the WebSphere Studio Technology Preview for Web services, which will allow customers to build Web services applications and connect those to existing business processes, IBM said.
In addition, a tool named WebSphere Business Integrator can be used to manage and integrate the Web services applications, within and between companies. This software transfers SOAP messages from one application to another to link the applications and manage interaction, IBM said.
IBM added what it calls the DB2/XML extender to its DB2 database product to let Web services access databases. The DB2/XML extender is already integrated in DB2 Version 7.2. This latest version of IBM's database product also supports UDDI and SOAP.
Tivoli Systems management software will help the user monitor and secure the Web services chain, IBM said.
A Lotus Web services enablement kit will be posted on the IBM AlphaWorks site this quarter to help software developers build Web services applications for Lotus products. Lotus Domino collaboration, workflow and messaging capabilities can be accessed as Web services by adding SOAP interfaces and WSDL descriptions to the software.