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Big Blue’s major refresh of WebSphere aims to drive business agility for customers and partners. The Version 7 release, available now, includes upgrades to all flagship products under the WebSphere umbrella, including improved integration tools designed to help partners better meet customer demand for business process and service-oriented solutions.

Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM WebSphere, said the new version is a product of IBM partner and customer feedback, and the biggest release of middleware—ever.

“We looked to our business partners and took feedback around the scenarios that they see customers looking for out of the box,” said Hayman. “This led to out-of-the-box B2B connectivity enhancements that will help our partners directly tackle client opportunities.” 

The major overhaul includes upgraded features across WebSphere’s strategy, business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) products. Hayman said this version of WebSphere focuses on helping the line of business to plan effectively and react quickly to real-time events and needs. 

“To respond more quickly to their department, the line of business needs three things: business strategy and the tools to have those discussions; business process management to automate; and a foundation for service-oriented architectures,” said Hayman. 
IBM tapped a small group of select software and business partners to build out development tools and application management governance products that round out its BPM and SOA life-cycle management offerings, including WebLayers, AmberPoint and SOA Software.
Application management vendor AmberPoint worked with IBM to open up the revamped WebSphere Repository and Registry by creating new APIs and enterprise messaging interfaces for its customers. AmberPoint integrates with several WebSphere products to manage, track and report on enterprise business transactions.

“The great thing about WebSphere 7 is it has kept APIs and points of visibility consistent so we don’t have to re-engineer,” said AmberPoint CMO Ed Horst. “IBM’s standards allow us to focus our development efforts on creating new products, not re-engineering our existing ones.”

IBM expects Version 7’s addition of 20,000 new pieces of industry-specific content to help reseller and services partners gain more traction in the industries of health care, retail and telecommunications. The new content additions include prebuilt industry templates in 23 industries. The out-of-the-box templates are designed to help service partners and customers quickly implement changes in their business processes to improve strategies and collaboration with key communities, including suppliers and business partners. IBM has upgraded its BPM BlueWorks Website, unveiled earlier this year, as well. The site gives partners and customers access to a cloud environment that enables mapping tools for planning, collaborating and redefining business processes and strategies.

The upgraded BPM suite also includes new WebSphere Registry and Repository features and the introduction of a native container based on Service Component Architecture (SCA) standards. Users now have the ability to make what IBM calls “in-flight” changes—meaning users can make changes to business processes and services and then, immediately execute it to the system with one click.

Mark Angel is CTO of CRM provider KANA Software, an IBM partner that embeds WebSphere in its product set. He is pleased with the upgrade and standards-based architecture of Version 7.

“We’ve adopted SCA in a big way, and the new feature pack for SCA shows IBM is making strides toward fully leveraging this standard,” Angel said. Version 7 bulks up its connectivity offering with additional APIs and new open standards for Message Broker and Enterprise Service Bus. Also expanded is WebSphere Business Event, designed for detecting, evaluating and making real-time changes based on on-going IT events. Thursday’s release is the first version to include fully integrated products from last year’s acquisition of ILOG. Thanks to the French company, Version 7 includes a new rules management environment, optimization and virtualization tools, as well as a supply management offering.