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IBM: New WebSphere Offering Optimizes Software And Hardware Performance


IBM unveiled WebSphere software designed to automatically optimize the performance of companies' software and hardware, on demand, particularly during unexpected spikes in usage or changing market conditions.

IBM offered these details:

Customer candidates for the new software -- called WebSphere Extended Deployment -- include firms with substantial computing resources that need to settle large and unpredictable quantities of stock trades with extraordinary efficiency and reliability; retailers that need to keep pace with sudden jumps in demand during sales; online auction houses that need to handle bids for an unexpectedly popular offering; or Webcasters of news and sporting events.

WebSphere Extended Deployment, which runs on IBM's market-leading WebSphere Application Server infrastructure software, more efficiently utilizes, balances and shares the workload among dozens of applications, and hundreds of application servers, that process tens of millions of customer transactions daily. WebSphere Extended Deployment allows IT resources to adjust on-the-fly to the demands of critical business applications. Business can not only keep pace, but also now enjoy double-digit boosts in their network performance and transaction processing speed.

For example, CIGNA Healthcare's technology group has been working with IBM's High Performance On Demand Solutions Lab -- a team of about 100 IBM software engineers and researchers -- on a proof-of-concept using a pre-release version of WebSphere Extended Deployment. CIGNA is interested in software that can tie together online applications in ways that drastically reduce the computing resources needed to run them.

According to Ben Flock, CIGNA VP of Virtualization, "CIGNA has set a goal of eliminating 25% of our server operating expense for our 37 applications that comprise CIGNA.com. We are looking at WebSphere Extended Deployment to optimize how we're using our computing capacity so we can reduce the need to buy more servers to cover our peak demand, such as during enrollment periods."

WebSphere Extended Deployment makes more efficient use of the computing infrastructure in response to changing customer demands -- much faster and more accurately than with human intervention. In concert with IBM Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, the new software monitors the efficiency of the network, constantly re-balancing and farming out unexpected workloads to underutilized hardware and software. Network managers have the option of manually confirm suggested optimizations before they take place.

It also partitions, or efficiently divides, large jobs over many processors, databases, application software and application servers. For example, Extended Deployment may assign specific application servers for specific tasks, reducing bottlenecks and enabling jobs to be completed faster and more cost effectively. While the system helps provide 99.999% up-time, applications can also recover from isolated failures within seconds, versus minutes.

Significantly, it can also prioritize the workload based on its relative importance and business value, so that an important transaction gets processed before one that is less time-sensitive or has less impact on revenue. It provides a dashboard that keeps the administrator current on the system's performance, and provides intuitive features that simplify and improve the management of sophisticated system configurations.

Unlike older, competing performance-enhancing products, WebSphere Extended Deployment can be directly combined with, and managed in the same way as, the application server. This can reduce costs and increase ease of use by accelerating deployment and enabling businesses to re-use existing skills.

WebSphere Extended Deployment was produced by an IBM technology incubation effort in which IBM Research collaborated directly with the IBM WebSphere product and development team. More than 21 patents are pending for technologies created specifically for WebSphere Extended Deployment.

WebSphere Extended Deployment is also the result of a comprehensive effort by IBM to imbue its products with "autonomic" technologies which enable products to automatically configure, heal, optimize or protect themselves. Currently, more than 415 features in 50 IBM products have such computing capabilities. They span the entire IBM product and services portfolio.

IBM Business Partners see tremendous potential with Extended Deployment. Says John Jenkins, General Manager, Perficient ATS Division: "Perficient has been working with large-scale WebSphere customers for several years. The enhanced capabilities provided in WebSphere Extended Deployment, such as increasing quality of service, increasing on demand capacity, and significantly easing the management of complex implementations, are significant strides towards providing a solid enterprise solution for IBM customers. Perficient looks forward to helping customers move to this state-of-the-art platform."

Beginning today, select IBM customers worldwide will begin testing a beta version of WebSphere Extended Deployment, which becomes generally available later this year.

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