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WebSphere Updates: sMash, eXtreme Scale, Virtual Enterprise, Business Events

by Floyd Marinescu on Apr 09, 2008 |

At IBM IMPACT this week, along with IBM's Smart SOA vision (covered yesterday), IBM announced serveral new and re-branded products dealing with virtualization (Virtual Enterprise), clustering & caching (eXtreme Scale), complex event processing (Business Events), and RESTful web apps (sMash). InfoQ spoke to various execs and product managers to find out more:

WebSphere sMash

WebSphere sMash is the supported commercial version of IBM's incubation project: Project Zero, a server side mashup tool & execution environment aimed at quickly exposing RESTful services to the web, mashed up from various other data sources using dynamic scripting languages (PHP or Groovy) or visual assembly tools. InfoQ interviewed IBM CTO Jerry Cuomo about REST and Project Zero in the past. Going forward, Project Zero will still be used as a public, open but not open source, incubation area for new versions that will later make it into WebSphere sMash.

Interestingly, the Project Zero IDE is being transitioned into a fully browser hosted IDE. Full browser-based development environment including a GUI editor for modeling feeds and flows, and a page editor that is DOJO aware. A hosted sandbox for deploying Zero apps will also be coming later this year.

A related product also announced was IBM Mashup Center, is a rich client environment for dragging and dropping Dojo iwidgets for making page mashups. The tool also functions as a catalogue/repository for large companies to store widgets for reuse and assembly across departments.

WebSphere Business Events

IBM talked a lot at Impact about how companies that are farther along the maturity cycle with SOA are doing live analytics of running processes and are able to react to change dynamically; in support of this, IBM announced WebSphere Business Events, which is a complex event processing (CEP) style product built to be usable by line of business managers - IBM's Sandy Carter coined this 'BEP' (business event processing). InfoQ spoke to product architect Steve Lyons who gave a technical explanation of the product:

Events are gotten via XML events on a JMS topic. Events can be generated by something happening, such as a file being created, or a web service call being made, etc. Connectors at each client spot do the translation and posting to a JMS topic. Runtime listeners listen to the events and correlate on the events, or lack of events happening...We’re looking for patterns, things like this is the first occurrence of this event, or I've seen 2 of these events but none of those in some period of time. You can nest them for arbitrary complexity. You can also define data filrers which do things like ‘if the city field is Las Vegas’,etc…

The results are either to fire an event back into the system or to fire an event / action out that updates another system.

Steve gave an example of if a change of address + change of pin + large withdrawal on an account occurs, fire off a potential fraud event. You can have another policy that says 'if you see three potential fraud events in 24 hours, fire off another event'.

The product ships with developer-facing IT wizards for the definition of events, and a business facing point and click UI targeted at line of business managers. For example, a manager could change the variable of the time frame in which to search for enough fraud warnings if too many false positives are being registered.

IBM sees the fact that LOB managers can edit events as a key feature and differentiator compared to other tools in the space that require you to write Java code or do SQL-like querying.

WebSphere eXtreme Scale

Previously part of the WebSphere XD family, the clustering and caching grid product formerly known as ObjectGrid is now being branded separately as WebSphere eXtreme Scale. The product competes with Tangosol, Gigaspaces, Terracotta, and is designed primarily by Billy Newport. IBM positions the product:

WebSphere eXtreme Scale operates as an in-memory data grid that dynamically caches, partitions, replicates, and manages application data and business logic across multiple servers. It provides transactional integrity and transparent fail-over to ensure high availability, high reliability, and constant response times.

WebSphere Virtual Enterprise

Another part of WebSphere XD has been re-branded as WebSphere Virtual Enterprise, which provides application infrastructure virtualization. Specifically, it provides dynamic clustering of application servers (WebSphere JBoss, Tomcat, BEA, and others) so that incoming requests can be routed to servers with the most capacity. The system allows multiple apps to run within one virtual pool of servers (allowing server consolidation), handles automatic fail-over, intelligent request routing by service level agreement, pausing low priority apps, etc.

See also yesterday's coverage of IBM's SOA vision announced at the IMPACT event.

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