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August 11, 2005

IBM upgrades WebSphere grid management

Following an initial release last fall, IBM Corp is expanding its WebSphere Extended Deployment (XD) add-on to handle more kinds of workloads, and on more platforms.

By CBR Staff Writer

Offering the capability to prioritize and manage separate workloads in multi-instance WebSphere environments, WebSphere XD provides a lot of grid processing capabilities delivered by Oracle in its 10g database. The obvious difference is that the grid management is performed at the middleware, rather than the database level.

When introduced with WebSphere 5.1 last fall, it could only handle transaction processing workloads on 32-bit Windows, Linux, AIX, and Solaris platforms. The new version, part of the WebSphere 6.0 release, adds support of long-running workloads such as batch processing or high performance computing.

With 6.0, these workloads could be run alongside transaction processing, with priority driven by preset policies. And they could also be run on 64-bit platforms, and also on HP-UX and Linux on zSeries.

Other capabilities introduced with the 6.0 version include application edition management, which allows different versions of various applications to be gradually rolled out in parallel, or to coexist on one or more instances of WebSphere. And they can also be deployed without taking the system down. This capability is also being introduced by BEA in WebLogic 9.0.

Additionally, WebSphere XD 6.0 adds object caching, where frequently used data items can be cached on the appserver without having to constantly hit the database.

WebSphere XD is not a standalone product, in that it is not a separate edition of the appserver. Instead, it as a grid processing bolt-on that can beaded to the core appserver or to WebSphere’s specialized editions such as WebSphere Business Integration or WebSphere Portal.

It is designed as a plug in, meaning that additional monitoring and management capabilities are funneled through the existing WebSphere consoles.

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So far, WebSphere XD is a classic early edition product. The initial 5.1 version was rolled out to roughly a dozen beta customers last year, with 14 more currently set to adopt the 6.0 beta, and at least that number in serious negotiation.

According to XD product manager Suzanne Dewitt, much of the interest has come from customers with deployments in the tens, rather than the hundreds of servers, a sign that product implementation is not yet mature. With the addition of batch processing support, the 6.0 version is getting more attention from financial services customers.

As a plug-in, XD 6.0 is being rolled into each of the WebSphere products based on their existing release schedules. It will be generally available for the appserver beginning August 30, and will be included in the 6.0 refreshes of the other WebSphere editions next year. Additionally, zSeries versions will be available next year.

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