October 29, 2007 10:45 ET

IBM Offers Prescription for IT Health

ARMONK, NY--(Marketwire - October 29, 2007) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced today new software and services to help ensure clients' success in creating a healthy IT environment based on a service oriented architecture (SOA).

Dubbed the "IBM SOA Healthcheck," these new IBM services and software will help clients with SOA health issues resulting from performance issues, which could be the result of partnering with inexperienced or proprietary information technology (IT) vendors. The healthchecks cover six common areas that can impact the success of an SOA strategy, including application reuse, governance, security, middleware, and workload and service management.

SOA is a business approach that reuses existing technology across multiple IT platforms to enable a company to more effectively compete and increase productivity and profitability. However, an SOA strategy that is either not well defined or based on proprietary technology can cost clients billions of dollars if left unresolved.

"The value a service oriented architecture can deliver to a company pays off in many ways, most notably by delivering significant gains in performance, productivity and cost savings," says Marie Wieck, vice president for Middleware Services, IBM Global Technology Services. "Yet if SOA is approached with poor preparation, without people skilled in technical and business needs, companies can swiftly go from dry land to quicksand."

Specific new IBM SOA Healthcheck Services include specialized diagnostics and triage capabilities to help clients identify potentially unhealthy areas and recommended treatments to cure problem areas and set clients on the right track. Two new workshops now available include:

--  IBM SOA Applications and Services Healthcheck Workshop, a targeted 2-3
    day business consulting engagement aimed at clients that want assurance of
    their their SOA and capability of expanding beyond initial projects.
    Elements examined include application reuse to verify that existing
    applications are properly used and service use to assess how a company can
    identify and reuse its existing services located.  Additional elements that
    are examined include potentially identifying rogue services as part of a
    governance policy and service security to check that controls for services
    and identities are being properly managed.
--  Infrastructure Healthcheck Workshop for SOA, a targeted 1-3 day
    technology services engagement that performs a high level assessment of the
    infrastructure that supports the applications and services layers in a SOA.
    SOA elements examined include infrastructure flexibility to assess the
    ability of servers, storage, networking, middleware, and systems management
    to adapt to spikes in demand without failure. The workshop will also help
    verify optimum SOA configurations for connectivity, portal servers and
    messaging components and a service management review to ensure that
    services are being monitored end-to-end to isolate and fix problems.

Beyond "healthchecks" to identify potential problem areas, IBM continues to focus on the health of an SOA strategy and creation by offering tools and services that help clients be health from the start. One new example is the Identity Aware Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) solution from IBM, which combines WebSphere ESB solutions with Tivoli security and identity management solutions, enabled by IBM SOA Professional Services for SOA security to help ensure that access is maintained and protected across a flexible SOA environment, while allowing for a single sign-on no matter where you are in the environment. It also enables end-to-end auditing of identity and access activity.

Business and IT skills remain a key issue for implementing successful and healthy SOA projects. According to a recent survey of IBM clients more than half of the respondents cited having the right combination of business and technical skills as the most important criteria in selecting a vendor to help with SOA projects. Additionally, more than half of the clients surveyed said they currently have 25 percent or less of the skills needed to use SOA to meet long term business goals.

With more than 5,700 SOA customers worldwide, IBM has developed the experience to help clients avoid SOA health issues, which can multiply if clients partner with proprietary vendors that can't scale implementations across common heterogeneous IT environments or are inexperienced vendors that lack skills across a range of industries.

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