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IBM turbocharges WebSphere with add-on

It is still in beta, but when it's fully cooked, a new software add-on expected soon from IBM will "turbocharge" its WebSphere application server, company officials said last week. The add-on, dubbed WebSphere Extended Deployment (WebSphere XD), is being touted by Big Blue as a means for organizations with large and complex computing environments to improve the uptime and performance of important applications.

WebSphere XD, designed to monitor and automatically optimize system performance, runs on IBM's WebSphere app server infrastructure software. IBM expects the add-on to be especially useful in environments that tend to experience unexpected surges in demand (financial services, online retailers and auction houses, or Webcasters of sports and breaking news, for example). XD went into beta testing last week at 10 IBM customer sites, according to Bob Sutor, IBM's director of WebSphere software. It is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

If it performs as expected, XD will fit well into IBM's "on-demand computing" strategy by allowing IT resources to adjust on the fly to the demands of critical business applications. IBM is promoting XD as a likely complement to its Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, which it sells separately. That new software monitors the efficiency of the network, constantly rebalancing and farming out unexpected workloads to underutilized hardware and software. Network managers have the option to confirm manually suggested optimizations before they take place.

The system includes a dashboard for administrators to monitor the performance of the product and to handle system configurations.

WebSphere XD is part of IBM's overall strategy to imbue its products with "autonomic" [self-healing] technologies, which enable products to automatically configure, heal, optimize or protect themselves, the company said. Currently, more than 415 features in 50 IBM products have such computing capabilities, the company said.

XD partitions large jobs over many processors, databases, applications and application servers, Sutor explained. For example, it may assign specific application servers for specific tasks to reduce bottlenecks. The result is "virtually constant" uptime and rapid recovery from isolated failures. Sutor said that this feature was targeted to the company's "most demanding WebSphere customers." He called XD an "add-on pack that turbocharges WebSphere."

WebSphere Extended Deployment was produced by an IBM technology "incubation effort" in which IBM Research collaborated directly with the IBM WebSphere product and development team, the company said.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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