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Big Blue Vows Grid-based Web Services By Summer

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LOS ANGELES — The Ninth Annual Internet World Spring kicked off Wednesday
with keynote Jocelyn Attal, vice president of marketing for WebSphere, IBM’s Web services unit for deploying and integrating e-business applications.

To a packed room, although downsized considerably from last year, Attal
sketched out the basic concepts underlying Web services and what IBM has up
its sleeve for the next phase of WebSphere.

In short, Web services is a group of technologies, standards, and protocols
that use the Internet to get applications to communicate with one another
and allow companies to connect more efficiently with suppliers, customers,
partners, and distributors.

Taking the hassle out of purchasing and maintaining business software and
hardware, Web services, based either on a WebSphere, .Net, or a likeminded
platform, enables access to business applications over the Internet through
standard XML-based interfaces at lower cost and higher quality.

“Web services bridges the gap and creates e-business on demand,” said Attal.

Attal announced that by
August of this year, IBM would make a major push to incorporate the power of
grid computing technology into its WebSphere platform.

Grid computing uses the Internet to connect clusters of computers into the
force of one single “supercomputer” and is expected to someday turn the
Internet into one single, unified computing platform, providing faster
access to infrastructure.

IBM has made recent inroads in developing a grid standards platform that
might eventually act as the foundation for future grid architectures and
enhance the power of Web services platforms by bringing grid computing into
the business sector.

Gartner predicts that the next decade will see businesses transform
completely by using grid-enabled Web services to integrate across the
Internet, not just sharing applications but sharing computer power.

Attal said that by August of this year, IBM would go public with its
grid-enabled services, although she did not reveal details of the rollout
strategy or pricing information.

In close competition with Microsoft’s .Net platform and BEA Systems, IBM’s WebSphere, one of the major players pushing Web services into the business market, has seen 12 straight quarters of growth, according to Attal, with a 50% sales gain since in 2001.

Calling Microsoft a “favorite colleague,” Attal made a repeated effort throughout her keynote to diffuse any suggestion of competition between the two superpowers, adding that both companies “must cooperate” with each other because customers are not interested in being on one side of another corporate feud for market share.

“The future is making us an offer we can’t refuse,” said Attal, using an
elaborate and over-used analogy throughout her keynote that likened the
Hollywood film industry, in particular the working habits of filmmaker
Francis Ford Coppola, with the power of Web services to transform and
simplify business architecture and integrate next-generation business

Predicting that Web services will soon be a $21 billion industry,
Attal praised the virtues of an open XML-based architecture as the key to
simplifying business applications, lowering costs, and enhancing
business-to-business integration.

“Web services is an evolutionary concept, not a revolutionary one,” said
Attal. “It’s a very simple technological concept of linking applications to
business partners and customers without having to change applications.”

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