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WebSphere bolt-on maximizes resources based on business priorities

IBM's autonomic and grid computing technologies are powering WebSphere Extended Deployment Version 6.0.

With grid computing driving a brave new world of dynamic, "self-healing" commercial applications, vendors are scrambling to provide developers with the right tools and middleware to create flexible architectures.

You can define service-level goals of an application, and health policies define health parameters against which system would act.
Suzanne Dewitt
Product ManagerWebSphere Extended Development

Business flexibility is the theme behind IBM's new WebSphere Extended Deployment (XD) Version 6.0, an add-on to the WebSphere application server and WebSphere platform. With additional support for mixed workload and server types, Version 6.0 leverages autonomic and grid computing capabilities to maximize existing software and hardware resources based on business needs and priorities and user demands. It also offers new advanced data caching for increased performance, as well as enhanced manageability and monitoring capabilities.

The middleware builds on WebSphere XD 5.1, introduced last October to key high-end customers. It utilizes some of the fruits of IBM's On Demand initiative and incubator technology, according to Suzanne Dewitt, WebSphere Extended Deployment product manager.

"Version 5.1 set up a virtualized dynamic environment for multiple transactional applications," she said. "It can be described as a transactional grid -- a grid of servers that can dynamically handle multiple transactional applications. We're extending that concept, what we're describing as a business grid, to support different workload types."

The first type is batch processing, "so a batch run can be handled in real time and balanced against transactional work, whenever there's white space or free computing power," Dewitt said. The second type is compute-intensive workloads. "This is a more traditional grid or scientific type of workload that is emerging in the business community for what-if analysis, for example."

The interfaces to run compute-intensive workloads are Web services interfaces, Dewitt said. "This enables you to run workloads you traditionally wouldn't run in a WebSphere environment."

Supporting different workload types is one way WebSphere XD is providing business flexibility; the other is with new support for mixed application server types, both WebSphere and non-WebSphere. While a WebSphere stack is needed to get the full range of benefits from WebSphere XD, "a monitoring agent can be deployed on these other [non-WebSphere] server types, which provides feedback to the On Demand router [in WebSphere XD] to help with intelligent workload," she said, as well as feedback on the health and capability of the server.

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Business priorities are established through extensions to the WebSphere administrator console, where service and health policies can be set up that guide the system's decision making, Dewitt said. "You can define service-level goals of an application, and health policies define health parameters against which system would act."

And by utilizing application partitioning for targeted transactions while leveraging the new ObjectGrid function for distributed data caching, WebSphere XD Version 6 offers increased performance. ObjectGrid is a high-performance transactional cache framework for storing Java Objects.

"ObjectGrid optimizes the interaction with the data source. As volume grows it's relieving the pressure on the back-end data," Dewitt said.

WebSphere XD Version 6 was available as an electronic delivery at the end of July, and will be generally available the end of August. Price is $15,000 per processor as an add-on to WebSphere. For a non-WebSphere environment, the price is $5,000 per processor.

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