IBM has begun shipping a new version of its WebSphere application server that includes support for web services protocols and standards.
The product, which will be available to developers free of charge, will allow users to create ebusiness applications that can navigate, discover and interact with other applications on the internet.
WebSphere Technology for Developers includes support for XML, UDDI (Universal Description and Discovery Integration), Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol), J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and WSDL (Web Services Description Language). It connects web applications with back-end databases.
Scott Hebner, director of marketing for WebSphere software, said: "This is the first application server to deliver all of the major web services. It is an investment we're making to get the platform to developers sooner."
However, Hebner acknowledged that the release does not feature some technologies necessary for deployment, such as clustering, an administration console, security, pooling and dynamic caching.
"But it does have the programming model, so that developers can start to build applications on WSDL, Soap, UDDI and J2EE-compliant API sets," he said.
Massimo Pezzini, an analyst at Gartner, said the product is not production-ready, but is rather a preview of WebSphere version 4, the next major update of the WebSphere Application Server family.
He believes the software will give Java developers an opportunity to familiarise themselves with, and start developing applications for, WebSphere 4.
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