LAS VEGAS: IBM has taken the wraps off the next release of its WebSphere Application Server, which is aimed at giving firms a lighter, more dynamic version of the app middleware.
Shown off at the IBM Impact show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, version 8.5 of WebSphere Application Server, codenamed Liberty, has a footprint of just 50MB.
This makes it small enough to run on machines such as the Raspberry Pi, according to Marie Wieck, general manager for IBM application and infrastructure middleware.
Updates and bug fixes can also be done on the fly with no need to take down the server, she added.
The Liberty release will be launched this quarter, and already has 6,000 beta users, according to Wieck.
IBM also updated its Business Process Manager with support for federated processes, and enabling social collaboration between participants so users can easily find an expert if they need help. The firm has also created a BPM iPad app, which can be downloaded at the App Store.
IBM Operational Decision Management, meanwhile, has a new social media user interface, to offer a better environment for collaboration, and to improve searching, viewing and making rule changes.
John Rymer of analyst Forrester told V3 that the compact and dynamic nature of the new version of WebSphere Application Server could make it a tempting proposition for Java developers.
“If you want to install version seven or eight, it’s a big piece of software requiring a lot of space and memory. The installation and configuration is also tricky,” he explained.
“Java developers working in the cloud and on mobile were moving towards something like Apache Tomcat. It’s very light, starts up quickly and you can add applications without having to take the system down. IBM didn’t have anything to respond to that, and that’s what Liberty is.”
For firms needing to update applications three times a year, for example, the dynamic capability of Liberty will make it a much easier process.
“If developers want to run Java on a mobile device, this is good,” Rymer added.
The new features are also backwards compatible, meaning current WebSphere users will be able to take advantage of the improvements.
However, IBM could still have difficulty competing in the app server space on a standalone basis, according to Rymer.
“Red Hat JBoss costs considerably less, and there’s been an erosion for IBM as it’s lost customers to Red Hat and Apache. Liberty might have an effect here,” he said.
“But IBM wins where the customer isn’t just focused on one product. It will never compete on price, but emphasises the broader values of a platform or environment.”
IBM is due to be demoing WebSphere running on Raspberry Pi at Impact on Wednesday, so check back on V3 to see our video demo.
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