Java Tool Vendor Lands Websphere Deal

Java application development tool vendor Vision Software Tools Inc. ( tied the knot with IBM Corp. in a deal that allows the startup to integrate IBM’s Websphere application server into its product. The deal lends credibility to the venture capital-backed company, and in exchange, gives IBM close access to the company’s product set.

Vision Software has always offered its own application server engine along with its Jade, its Java application development tool. But the company maintained that it wasn’t in the application server business, and offered one only because it needed one to support its core product. Six months ago, company president Jack Hewitt articulated a long-term goal to "see Jade’s business logic server layered on top of best-of-breed application logic servers." The first step of that process came to fruition with the IBM deal.

The deal is a big win for the company because of the resources that IBM is going to apply to the product. Plans call for IBM to multibyte-enable the product and globalize the language support. IBM will work with Vision Software developers to integrate the Websphere 3.0 Advanced Edition as a component of the Jade development and deployment environment. Under the deal, IBM’s Visual Age for Java will also be integrated with the Jade product.

IBM’s payback comes from a marketing agreement with Vision Software that allows IBM to sell the product on a worldwide basis. "We get Websphere as an embedded component of our solution, and we get a globalized product," explains Mike DeVries, Vision Software vice president of marketing. "[IBM] wants to make Websphere pervasive. They have recognized that the world is not going to learn how to program Enterprise Java Beans, [and] this enables a whole new set of people to build applications for Websphere."

The deal has another significant ramification: transitioning of Jade’s dependence upon a CORBA application server engine to an EJB server engine. Vision plans to continue shipping its CORBA application server component with the Jade product, and will maintain it as a deployment engine for customers that want to use it. "Clearly, IBM has more people working on [its] application server than we do," notes DeVries. "We don’t want to be in the application server market -- it’s turning into an operating system market. Each of the major operating systems has an application server. This is going to be a dance of the elephants."

Once the integration is complete, a new release of the product is expected. Current plans target the upgrade for January.