SilverStream Certifies Development Environment for WebSphere

SilverStream Software Inc. has optimized its Web services-enabled development environment for use with IBM’s WebSphere product line. As such, SilverStream is now tightly integrated with both IBM and BEA application servers – the two most prominent platforms in the industry.

By configuring its development environment, called eXtend, to take advantage of the unique characteristics of WebSphere Application Server, SilverStream offers customers more functionality with enterprise information systems like CISC, MQSeries and DB2.

Fred Holahan, VP and general manager of SilverStream’s integrated products division, says a key benefit WebSphere customers will realize by working with the optimized pieces of eXtend is better runtime performance. “One of the objectives of the certification process is to make sure the installation of runtime works and is optimized, and that the tools that work with runtime are aware of the particular capabilities of the application server.” says Holahan.

SilverStream’s eXtend platform is comprised of four key pieces of software: Workbench, Composer, Director, and eXtend Application Server. Both Composer and Director have powerful runtime frameworks that get installed into the application server. In optimizing the eXtend platform for WebSphere and BEA’s WebLogic, as well as its own eXtend Application Server, SilverStream has independently tailored its runtimes for each vendor. Holahan says, SilverStream has also taken measures to leverage the other unique configurations of each application server, including how they handle caching and clustering.

As part of SilverStream’s eXtend line, Composer acts as a standards-based information broker that can integrate with existing back-end systems to create Web services. Director is a tool designed to allow developers to put a front end on Web services. And Workbench is an IDE, which both Composer and Director can plug into.

Holahan estimates 50 percent of SilverStream’s current install base is running the eXtend Application Server with the remaining 50 percent divided evenly between WebSphere and WebLogic. According to Holahan, the number of SilverStream customers running Oracle 9i Application Server is relatively small compared to the WebSphere and WebLogic install base. He would not say if SilverStream will be optimizing its entire eXtend line for 9i, which is presently only configured for tight integration with Workbench.

SilverStream’s strategy for optimizing its development environment involves both software configurations and technical training. “It’s a big commitment on our part, both technically and business wise,” says Holahan. In addition to software configurations, SilverStream’s certification process involves training its technical support team and field services representatives on the WebSphere platform. SilverStream worked closely with both IBM and BEA to gets its eXtend tools running smoothly on both platforms.

“We’ve been working with [IBM] aggressively since the beginning of this year,” says Holahan. “To get [the eXtend line] running [on WebSphere] didn’t take that long. What took a little bit longer is to get things up and running in an optimized way.”

“The value add that SilverStream is providing is to make it easier and more productive to build java server pages and Web services,” says Mike Gilpin, vice president and research leader for Giga Information Group.

SilverStream is one of a number of vendors offering value-add solutions on top of the application server. However, it is one of the few that offers its own application server as well.

Holahan believes SilverStream’s experience in the application server space gives it a better understanding than its competitors of how to bring value to application servers. Gilpin doesn’t necessarily agree, and suggests SilverStream’s application server will be hard pressed to compete with the likes of IBM and BEA. SilverStream’s attempts to optimize on WebSphere and WebLogic seem to hint that it too believes demand for competitive application servers will remain strong.

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About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.