WebSphere is a set of Java-based tools from IBM that allows customers to create and manage sophisticated business Web sites. The central WebSphere tool is the WebSphere Application Server (WAS), an application server that a customer can use to connect Web site users with Java applications or servlets. Servlets are Java programs that run on the server rather than on the user's computer as Java applets do. Servlets can be developed to replace traditional common gateway interface (cgi) scripts, usually written in C or Practical Extraction and Reporting Language, and run much faster because all user requests run in the same process space.
In addition to Java, WebSphere supports open standard interfaces such as the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) and Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) and is designed for use across different operating system platforms. One edition of WebSphere is offered for small-to-medium size businesses and another edition for larger businesses with a higher number of transactions. WebSphere also includes Studio, a developer's environment with additional components that allow a Web site's pages to be created and managed. Both editions support Solaris, Windows NT, OS/2, OS/390, and AIX operating systems.
WebSphere Studio includes a copy of the Apache Web server so that developers can test Web pages and Java applications immediately.