IBM Boosts SOA Offerings

IBM on Tuesday rolled out four new tools–and almost a dozen consulting offerings–related to service-oriented architecture (SOA). Big Blue touted its customer experience and acquisition streak with the launch, as it tries to narrow the technology gap with other vendors in the space.

The new offerings reflect IBM’s $1 billion investment in SOA this year in patents, acquisitions and technological developments, according to Steve Mills, senior vice president of the company’s software group. And the announcement foreshadowed additional releases from the Armonk, N.Y., computing giant in the growing business integration field.

“It’s not about replacing existing software infrastructure,” Mills says. “It’s about [customers] integrating what they have.”

The new offerings focus on SOA governance, infrastructure, industry-specific services and software tools that help businesses adapt their processes.

The announcement builds on what has been a breakout year for SOA. A survey conducted last November by Forrester Research found that approximately half of all North American and European companies with 1,000 or more employees will undertake an SOA project this year.

It also comes almost a year after IBM began a series of acquisitions aimed at broadening its SOA capabilities.

In October 2005, IBM bought DataPower, a maker of eXtensible Markup Language software and appliances for service architectures. Two months later, it acquired Bowstreet Software, which makes portal development products.

In August of this year, IBM snapped up Webify, an application development framework vendor. Three months earlier, Big Blue had bought BuildForge, which sells software that tracks the development of homegrown applications.

Dennis Gaughan, a research director with AMR Research, says that while competitors such as WebMethods and BEA Systems have already rolled out products with similar features, Big Blue is emphasizing its experience in helping customers build and deploy service-oriented architectures. IBM puts its SOA customer engagements at 3,000.

As Gaughan wrote in an e-mail: “SOA success has a lot more to do with managing cultural and process change over technology, and IBM is pointing to its vast experience as a way of reassuring customers that they can help with that, too.”