IBM Turns to Tengah for AS/400 EJB

Enterprise JavaBeans is the next frontier of Java-based application development and IBM has turned to WebLogic (San Francisco) and its Tengah EJB application server to take the AS/400 down that road.

IBM selected Tengah as the preferred Java application server and EJB technology for the AS/400. The companies will work together to integrate Tengah with the AS/400 and IBM will identify Tengah as the preferred EJB application server for the AS/400 brand.

In a prepared statement, AS/400 brand general manager Tom Jarosh described WebLogic as “a recognized leader in the Java application server market.”

“Earlier this year, we delivered Java capability on AS/400e. Tengah provides additional capability for customers to extend existing applications and systems using Web-networking technologies,” he said.

WebLogic was founded in 1995, the same year Sun Microsystems introduced Java. The company has since worked exclusively in Java application development.

“We’ve been focused completely on building Java applications on the server side since the outset,” says Scott Dietzen, VP of marketing at WebLogic. “We didn’t get into any of the client-side Java applets like everybody else did. It looks like we made the right bet early on.”

Dietzen explains that Tengah will take existing AS/400 applications and extend them to the Web and allow applications on NT and Unix to be hosted on the AS/400 without modification.

“Our primary focus will be on ISVs initially,” he says. “Tengah will benefit customers who want to extend their existing systems to the Web and customers who work with ISVs to develop next-generation applications. We’ll make the AS/400 a full application server platform that will be every bit as competitive as Unix or NT in serving Web-based applications.”

Jim Anderson, Java manager at IBM Partners in Development, says the Java application server environment that Tengah will create on the AS/400 is the key application for Java in the short term. “You’re doing a transaction from a Web page to the middle-tier or back-end system that has business logic on it. You’re not just doing glitzy stuff with a Java applet on an HTML page, but an actual business transaction.

“That’s where most of the work in Java is in the short term and it’s going to explode. It’s a huge opportunity. You don’t have to trash your RPG to build new applications,“ Anderson says.

He adds that these application servers that use Enterprise JavaBeans as the common component model rather than Microsoft’s COM will be a “huge deal” by next year.

“We’re moving forward on it today in 1998, demonstrating our industry leadership.”

An Enterprise JavaBean acts as raw material for applications, according to EJBHome (www.ejbhome.com), a Web resource for EJB developers. It consists of a functional interface, a life-cycle interface, and a class implementing the business methods it supports.

“One of the appeals of Enterprise JavaBeans is that it provides a great model for wrapping existing applications,” offers Dietzen. “You wrap them with an Enterprise JavaBean and all of a sudden they’re Web-enabled. They make it very easy to extend the AS/400 for server-side processing for undetermined clients.”

With Tengah, AS/400 applications will be extended for access from Web browsers, Java client applications, CORBA and Visual Basic, Visual C++ or PowerBuilder desktops.

“Just like a database hosts corporate data, an application server hosts business logic,” says Dietzen. “It’s a runtime environment. You use development tools to develop the applications you’re deploying on top of the application server.”

Dietzen also says he’s impressed with the way the AS/400 runs Java and this application server technology will extend the AS/400 Java implementation and make it more functional for users.

“IBM as a company has aggressively embraced Java. But without the application server, how do you get to the Web? Java on the platform that’s hard to get to is not nearly as valuable as Java on the platform that anyone can get to in a secure way,” he notes.