IBM plans to launch a Java version of its Intelligent Decision Server (IDS) by the end of next year, moving the online analytical processing (Olap) products away from their original OS/2 platform.
The decision to embrace Java was taken because customers no longer want to maintain their investment in OS/2, on which IDS shipped last October.
While users can access IDS-based packages from Windows 95, NT or a Web browser, the runtime sits on an OS/2 server. Application development is also undertaken in an OS/2 environment.
As a result, the next release of the C-based product, which is due in the third quarter and includes internationalisation support, will move into maintenance and receive no more functional enhancements.
Steve Selbst, IBM?s director of business intelligence solutions development, explained: ?Many customers don?t want to maintain their investment in OS/2, but the current system has a heavy code base because it was originally designed as an operating system and has a lot of OS functionality."
He continued: "We couldn?t port it to NT in short order - it would have taken two years and the market would potentially have moved on. But, customers want to run their servers in the environment of their choice or run split environments and deliver information via Web browsers,? he said.
He added that IBM was using Java to gain platform independence for the product because it would be able to work on any OS that sported a Java Virtual Machine.
But he also promised that current users would be provided with coexistence for both environments because it would take some time before the full functionality of the C-based product could be migrated to the Java one.
In the current release, programmers take pre-built C-based objects and string them together to make an application. In the Java version, however, they will hook up Java Beans and Lotus? Kona Beans, such as spreadsheets, to produce their packages.
But IBM is developing a package called Portal, which takes the backing files or specifications of the objects that make up different applications, and translates them so they appear to run in the Java environment.
This means users can invoke a C object from within a Java package and although it runs in the C-based version, the results appear where they are needed.
Selbst explained the rationale: ?Realistically, I don?t expect users to want to migrate their C applications in the first release of the Java product - they?re likely to want them to coexist initially. But they may want to migrate all the functionality over in future, although that depends on how fast we can develop the mappings and how seamlessly we can migrate them. We expect that about 80 per cent of applications can be interpreted into the new environment, but they?ll take some customisation.?
IDS is sold and supported in the UK by distributor Management Decisions, a former IBM subsidiary that was bought out by its management in November 1994.
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