WebSphere, DB2 Certified for J2EE 1.3

IBM Corp.’s WebSphere and DB2 offerings have achieved compliance with the 1.3 release of Java 2 Enterprise Edition. As such, they become the first major application server and database combination certified on the J2EE 1.3 platform, which was released in September with added support for Web services.

BEA Systems' WebLogic application server, which according to Giga Information Group's Mike Gilpin is the leading application server on the market with a 36 percent share as compared to IBM WebSphere's 31 percent, also is J2EE 1.3 compliant. However, BEA does not have an accompanying database technology also compatible with the latest version of the J2EE platform.

The 1.3 iteration J2EE is the first release with inherent support for Web services. And IBM’s rush to bring its application server and database technologies in line with 1.3 is being touted by the company as another sign of its commitment to the Web services concept.

IBM, along with Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., has been among the most ardent supporters of the Web services movement. It has contributed intellectual property to a number of leading Web services standards and protocols, including the Simple Object Access Protocol and the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration standard.

By passing through the Java Community Process’ certification criteria for J2EE 1.3, WebSphere and DB2 now support new technologies for building Web services, including the Java Messaging Service application programming interface. JMS is a new API that provides applications more flexibility to create, send, receive and read messages. Also, WebSphere and DB2 benefit from the increased XML integration offered under J2EE 1.3, as well as the platform's standardized methods for integrating CORBA and Java applications.

“The key difference between [J2EE] 1.2 and [J2EE] 1.3 relative to Web services is really in two areas,” says Stefan Van Overtveldt, program director for WebSphere technical marketing at IBM. He says, J2EE now has the ability to enable asynchronous communication between the application server and Enterprise JavaBean components; and provides increased support for connectors into non-Java environments, such as SAP and other leading third-party systems.

With J2EE 1.2, Van Overtveldt says coupling asynchronous Web services with synchronous applications was a very difficult task. Now, with JMS, he says J2EE 1.3 allows SOAP requests to be placed on a message queue, and activate EJBs asynchronously.

Van Overtveldt says IBM intends to build WebSphere into an integration server rather than an application server, as more functionality for Web services integration becomes available through J2EE. He says, right now WebSphere can be viewed as a complete workflow engine running within the J2EE environment, and will only grow more in this direction as J2EE provides more native support for Web services standards and protocols.

According to Ralph Gallantine, product line manager for J2EE at Sun, the 1.4 implementation of J2EE, which is currently making its way through the JCP, will package a number of new Web services features, including JAXP, the Java API for XML processing, and JAXM, the Java API for XML messaging. Currently, both JAXP and JAXM can be downloaded and run on top of J2EE 1.3, but they are not yet native to the platform. Gallantine says users of the J2EE platform can look for more Web services-specific features to be added to the J2EE platform as demand within the industry dictates.

WebSphere's J2EE 1.3 technology is available as a free download to developers at www7b.boulder.ibm.com/wsdd/downloads/wstechnology_tech_preview.html and will be included in future releases of WebSphere e-business infrastructure software.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The comments from Sun's Ralph Gallantine were added to this story on Friday, January 4, 2002. Other minor structural changes were made at this time, as well.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Changes were made to the opening paragraph of this article, and a new paragraph was added (paragraph No. 2) on Wednesday, January 9, 2002 to clarify that IBM is the first major vendor to certify both its application server and database technology on the J2EE 1.3 platform. It is not the first major vendor to certify its application server on J2EE 1.3, as BEA Systems certified WebLogic on the platform before IBM's WebSphere.

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.