IBM Adds WebSphere Tools for Vertical Markets.

IBM Corp. adds connectors and components to aid integration tasks in specific vertical markets

Expanding the capabilities of its WebSphere Business Integration server, IBM Corp. said it added connectors and components to aid integration tasks in specific vertical markets. The connectors tie common industry-specific applications into WebSphere.

IBM believes enterprises will be interested in automating business processes by writing J2EE code to WebSphere. When one business unit needs to share data with another business unit, or data needs to be aggregated into a single repository, the software can be used to automatically pull data.

Support for standard applications such as DB2 and SAP is a given, but IBM turned to technology it acquired with its purchase of CrossWorlds to add support for a variety of vertical industries. While many applications are used in only one industry, some are standard across the vertical market. "There's pretty much a core set of application suppliers to each industry," says Doug Brown, director of marketing for WebSphere Business Integration.

Brown says the standardization of software across the industry simplifies the task somewhat for IBM. For example, much of the automotive industry uses the same process collaboration applications, so IBM only had to write connectors for the most popular applications.

IBM targeted five specific vertical markets with this release: The automotive, electronics, insurance, retail and distribution, and telecommunications industries. In addition, IBM works with ISVs such as PeopleSoft, Siebel, and BroadVision to create WebSphere connectors for their applications.

The primary benefit to an enterprise using the pre-fab connectors is reduced integration time. Companies can ramp up integration projects more quickly with tested connectors and focus on modeling the business processes. Although Brown was reluctant to make general observations about improved development time, he did say one customer, Whirlpool, experienced a 40 percent productivity boost using the specific connectors.