IBM Aims To Eclipse BEA, Sun with New WebSphere

With the announcement of its new WebSphere application server at the DeveloperWorks Liveconference in San Francisco, IBM clearly is attempting to gain a bigger share of theUS$2.19 billion market for e-business software. In the process, the tech giant also isaiming to break out of a dead heat with rivalBEA Systems.

Big Blue said version 5 of its WebSphere application server, which will ship in the thirdquarter, will support Java 2 Enterprise Edition and Web services standards that will helpcompanies build better software. For customers, the upgrade also will fill in a criticalpart of the integration puzzle, smoothing the path of e-commerce transactions.

Great Strides

IBM has made great strides in the application server arena, capturing a 34 percent marketshare in 2001, up from 31 percent in 2000, according to a report released byGiga Information Group.

The company’s strongest competitor in the sector, BEA, has seen its market share decreasefrom 36 percent to 34 percent during the same period, the report said.

“It used to be the case that BEA won any bake-off,” Giga research fellow Mike Gilpin toldthe E-Commerce Times. He noted that although BEA is still the favorite on technicalgrounds, relative newcomer IBM is giving the leader reason to sweat.

The other two sector heavyweights, Sun andOracle, currently run a distant third andfourth behind IBM, respectively. The Giga report showed that Sun holds 7 percent of themarket while Oracle claims just 6 percent.

Solving Integration Woes

IBM has made tremendous strides with WebSphere, partly because the software purports tosolve some of the integration woes companies could face when implementing an e-commerceor CRM strategy.

Gilpin noted that WebSphere has “great breadth. It’s not just an application server.”

IBM is pursuing a three-pronged strategy with WebSphere. The platform is designed to offercustomizable information access to a wide variety of users via multiple devices,including wireless handhelds and standard telephones. WebSphere also provides a way forenterprises to integrate and automate business processes, and it allows businesses tobuild, link and manage applications.

More Updates Planned

Big Blue also said it plans to update its integration software. As part of this strategy,the company unveiled WebSphere MQ Event Broker, which will allow a company to sendinformation to whatever devices — ranging from PCs to Palms — a customer prefers.

The company also has more fully embraced the technology of CrossWorlds Software, which itacquired earlier this year. Gilpin noted that IBM previously had not unlocked the fullpotential of that relationship. But by including CrossWorlds offerings in its newWebSphere Business Integration Server 4.1, that is beginning to change.

In addition, IBM took the wraps off of a new version of Tivoli software designed to helpcompanies manage security. The company has said it will include Tivoli’ssecurity elements in WebSphere Application Server Version 5.

Sharing the Limelight

WebSphere has attracted large customers, such as Home Depot, Staples and Prudential.Stefan Van Overtveldt, program director of WebSphere marketing, attributed the product’ssuccess to IBM’s willingness to share the limelight with application providers.

“Contrary to some other vendors in the infrastructure space, we don’t want to get intothe application space,” Van Overtveldt said. “And that’s a great confidence builder whenwe go out to build contracts with CRM vendors. They know we don’t want to be competitivewith them.”

Unlike IBM, Oracle has positioned itself as an application provider, Gilpin noted, but hesaid the positioning is not unreasonable given the company’s background and evolution.

2 Comments

  • I have worked on 2 b2b e-commerce projects recently using both BEA weblogic 6.1 App server and WebSphere App server 4.0. I could see the dominance of IBM coming. IBM’s release of its "WebSphere studio application developer," and its seamless intergration with the 4.0 app server, takes development of robust enterprise solutions to a new level. I speak for the 32 java developers that work with me. The time and money savings gained when we have used the WebSphere platform is significant. We are talking doing 3 months’ development in 1. It’s only a matter of time before Big Industry recognises this. The lack of a tool like WSAD was always going to expose BEA to giants like IBM. On the plus side for BEA, many users feel that Weblogic’s J2EE implementation is the most robust in the market, but it still struggles against WebSphere in the area of Web services support.

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