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IBM Gets Leg Up in Middleware

After two years in the lab, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) finally unveiled the latest version of its WebSphere middleware platform today, and the hardware giant is drawing parallels between the human body and its new technology (see IBM Launches WebSphere 6.0).

Easier said than done. Middleware is a layer of standardized software which sits above the operating systems on which other software programs run. In the case of WebSphere, this means Web-enabled access to disparate data center applications.

The enhancements form part of a somewhat loosely defined IBM strategy called Autonomic Computing, which is based, believe it or not, on the bodys central nervous system. In the same way that the nervous system automatically governs crucial bodily functions such as respiration and heart rate, so IBM is pushing the concept of hardware and software that needs little or no human intervention.

Back on planet earth, this means improved "fail-over," or automatic transfer of data from one server to another when there is a problem on the system. IBM execs says that with WebSphere 6.0 data can now be transferred between servers even more quickly.

Whereas it would have once taken a number of minutes to complete this process, the fail-over can now be completed in a matter of seconds, depending on the server configuration, according to IBM director Bob Sutor. In an outage, WebSphere enables a server’s crucial transaction log to be restored from storage in a matter of seconds, he says. Previously, it would have been necessary to completely restart the server.

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