At Summer Internet World, IBM announced that three San Francisco components--basic services, a common business objects layer, and the first of many planned business application frameworks--are set to ship next month.
The goal of the project, in the works since 1994, is to license to ISVs (independent software vendors) with common, Java-based services so they don't have to keep reinventing the wheel, according to Joe Damassa, director of marketing for the San Francisco project. Instead, each vendor can concentrate on differentiating features. "We're not building competing technology to what they sell. This lets them focus on differentiation technologies so they don't have create the common business components," he said.
Damassa likens the San Francisco project to bank ATM networks. Years ago, each bank would build and maintain its own individual communications network to supply data to far-flung ATMs. Now, banks leave ATM network construction and management to Cirrus and other network providers and concentrate on customer services and new products.
IBM says San Francisco services will include Java versions of common application components, such as general ledger, accounts payable, customer definition, and other services. The first service, a general ledger application, will be delivered in mid-August.
IBM also announced a group of independent software vendors who have partnered with IBM to support the San Francisco code. Damassa said AS/400 application specialist Lawson Software and Synon are on the list, as are development tool makers Borland International, and Symantec.
The San Francisco project has the dual role of giving IBM's AS/400 midrange customers a software migration path from legacy applications to new Java systems.
IBM will ship Windows NT and AIX Unix versions of San Francisco components next month. An AS/400 Java virtual machine will enter beta testing in the fourth quarter and will ship next year, according to Damassa.
ISVs will pay IBM a percentage of the revenues of packaged applications that incorporate the software. The percentage will be "in the single-digit range," said Damassa.