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IBM retools messaging software

IBM is updating its messaging middleware software to make it easier to link multiple business applications into Web-based e-commerce systems.

IBM is updating its messaging middleware software to make it easier to link multiple business applications into Web-based e-commerce systems.

IBM today announced new features for its MQSeries messaging middleware targeted at companies building workflow applications and e-commerce sites. The company also detailed plans to add a technology model called "publish and subscribe" to MQSeries, as well as new management tools, and a retooled Windows NT version of the software.

MQSeries competes in the booming market for application integration tools, along with companies such as Tibco, Vitria, BEA Systems, and Crossworlds. Microsoft has also weighed in with its own message queuing software, called Microsoft Message Queue Server.

Message queuing software is designed to make sure that information sent from one application is delivered to its intended target, whether or not the target is currently online. Software like MQSeries stores or "queues" messages and forwards them when they can be received by the target at some future date.

The Internet, the growth of mergers and acquisitions, industry regulation and deregulation, and the move away from custom software and toward packaged applications, have fueled the market for integration tools, said John Swainson, general manager of IBM's application and integration middleware.

Swainson said MQSeries is one of the fastest growing software products at IBM. The software is used by many Fortune 500 companies, including Chase Manhattan, Shell Oil, and the Gap.

IBM is revamping MQSeries with workflow tools, for automating the way messages and data are routed between business systems. The publish-and-subscribe technology allows MQSeries to act like an information distribution system, users with the types of data that they have requested.

Adding publish and subscribe could make MQSeries a more flexible development system, said Mike Gilpin, an analyst with Giga Information Group.

"With a point-to-point model, which is what MQ had, if you want to send a message from one box to another, the sender and receiver have to know about each other," Gilpin said. "Publish and subscribe is more loosely coupled, easier to maintain, and easier to program, especially where information is sent to multiple locations."

IBM's addition of publish and subscribe to MQSeries might spell trouble for niche competitors, said Gilpin. Companies such as Tibco, which supplies publish-and-subscribe tools to companies that also use MQSeries, may see a downturn in demand as IBM supplies its own publish-and-subscribe mechanism.

IBM also announced MQSeries Workflow for OS/390 version 3.1, a new version of the company's software for building business systems. The software lets companies build systems that automatically route documents and data to specific users. For example, an insurer could build a system that sends claims to the appropriate department.

MQSeries version 5.1 will ship on Windows NT, AIX, HP-UX, OS/2, and Solaris in the second quarter, IBM said. Pricing starts at $3,000 per server.

The company will also make available new links between MQSeries and SAP R/3, for integrating enterprise resource planning applications with other business systems.