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Get to the Web Fast with IBM eServer i5!
Author: Kevin Larsen - IBM


Last year, I told many IBM eServer iSeries clients that 2003 was an exciting year for WebSphere on the iSeries. In hindsight, that wasn't true - 2004 is even more exciting! WebSphere's value just keeps getting better and better. And with the recent IBM eServer i5 announcements, the next generation of iSeries servers and the industry's first server based on IBM POWER5 technology, the opportunities to reap this value are greatly enhanced.

You might be wondering what exactly WebSphere is. Many people have heard about the topic, but don't understand it. Think about what the Web can offer your business. It is a 24x7x365 virtual marketplace that lets you connect with your customers, trading partners, and employees anytime, anywhere, from a variety of electronic devices. The Web is based on open standards, which means you can grow an e-business with confidence knowing you aren't locked into proprietary technologies or solutions. The Web is also ubiquitous - most desktop computers and many handheld devices can access the Web. Simply put, WebSphere is a portfolio of software products from IBM that helps build, host, and manage Web applications on iSeries servers.

With WebSphere, programs are written in Java. You can either develop the programs yourself or purchase them. The programs are not called from the command line (like RPG and COBOL programs), but rather from a Web browser using a URL. By linking Web applications to your existing RPG and COBOL programs or DB2 Universal Database (using tools provided by IBM for example), you can add value to your business in ways you never before thought possible.

For example, with WebSphere, you can give your employees access to business data they need or company human resources information over a productive graphical user interface, instead of using the limited reach of a green screen. You can give your customers or trading partner's access to Web-based information and business transactions, to help them more productively and efficiently do business with you without the need for iSeries skills on their part. The possibilities for new capabilities for your business are endless.

And in even better news, the latest generation of OS/400 (the IBM i5/OSTM V5R3 operating system) has everything you need to get started today. IBM doesn't call it the integrated platform for nothing. The key software components for building your on demand business have always been included on iSeries servers, such as IBM HTTP Server (powered by Apache), DB2 Universal Database for iSeries, and Directory Services. These integrated components are tested and easy to manage.

Now with i5/OS V5R3, you are entitled to WebSphere Application Server - Express V5 for iSeries. This software is what 'serves' your Web applications. Your purchase or upgrade to i5/OS V5R3 includes IBM WebSphere Application Server - Express V5 for iSeries at no additional charge, licensed for use where i5/OS is used on the supporting machine. It's covered under the eServer i5 Software Maintenance Agreement, just like i5/OS and other iSeries software products. (Clients running OS/400 V5R2M0 or V5R1M0 may continue to purchase and obtain support for IBM WebSphere Application Server - Express V5 for iSeries through the IBM Passport Advantage program). So, if you want to get to the Web fast, look no further than IBM eServer i5. "It's in there!"

To get you started on the on-demand business path, IBM also provides a suite of ready-to-use WebSphere-based applications that are available exclusively for iSeries clients. IBM Business Solutions for iSeries includes IBM Telephone Directory and IBM Survey Creator, which you can quickly deploy to help you gain productivity by leveraging the Web. These products are included at no additional charge with i5/OS and executed within IBM WebSphere Application Server - Express V5 for iSeries.

IBM Telephone Directory provides Web-based searching on employee information, such as name and address, e-mail and telephone numbers, and even a picture. This information is all stored on your iSeries server. So, if today you are distributing (and redistributing) hard-copy company directories that include your employees and perhaps external contacts, or if you have created a do-it-yourself directory on the Web, you could use IBM Telephone Directory to store and manage this information for you instead. This change can reduce administration expense and improve employee collaboration and communication. IBM Business Solutions allows you to create, distribute, and manage Web-based surveys. For example, from a central location, you can obtain immediate feedback on new products or services you develop to help gauge customer or employee satisfaction. You can use IBM Survey Creator to gather key feedback from various user communities and store and manage the results directly on your iSeries server.

Building your own WebSphere-based applications is easy with WebSphere Development Studio for iSeries (WDS). The Development Studio is provided as one complete package that includes the iSeries native compilers (COBOL, RPG, C/C++), the traditional Application Development Toolset (ADTS), and WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries (WDSc). This workstation-based, pluggable, integrated development environment is based on the open source Eclipse platform. With WDSc, you can build and deploy applications to your iSeries server. With one tool, you can consolidate your RPG, COBOL, and Web application development. Use iSeries-specific wizards in WDSc to quickly build Web applications that access your iSeries programs and data. Or you can use the included IBM WebFacing Tool to generate a Web interface to your DDS-based iSeries programs. Clients with active iSeries Software Maintenance Agreement contracts can upgrade to WDS at no charge, and receive unlimited licenses of WDSc. (IBM plans to make a new version available in the 3rd quarter of 2004.)

Key resources from IBM can help start you on your WebSphere journey. You can access the iSeries Developer Roadmap at www.ibm.com/eserver/iseries/roadmap.

Suffice it to say, 2004 is truly the most exiting year for WebSphere on iSeries. Of course by this time next year, I'm sure I will have even more exciting news to share with all of you.
 
Kevin Larsen is an Advisory Software Engineer at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. For the past 5 years, he has educated IBM eServer iSeries customers on WebSphere products and technologies, architecture design and implementation. Kevin can be reached at
kevlars@us.ibm.com.