Big Blue will ship new versions of its VisualAge development tool for the Java programming language and update its WebSphere application servers in October. An application server is software that sits between a Web browser and back-end database and runs the transactions and business logic of an application.
Analysts say IBM's decision to integrate its tools will help it bring customers to the growing application server market, where it competes with several dozen companies, from start-ups such as SilverStream to leaders like Oracle and the Sun-Netscape alliance.
"Being able to offer an organization seamless front-to-back development is a good thing," said International Data Corporation analyst Sally Cusack.
IBM executives say VisualAge for Java now has a copy of WebSphere built in, which will allow programmers to write software and test it immediately to look for possible bugs.
"They can have the code running and figure out where the error is and change it on the fly," said John Swainson, general manager for IBM's Software's application and integration middleware division.
In October, IBM will ship updates to five new products. The low-level WebSphere Application Server Standard Edition 3.0 will run faster and translate content to other languages, including German, Japanese, and Chinese.
The WebSphere Application Server Advanced Edition version 3.0 also has improved speed and reliability, Swainson said. The advanced edition includes support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition, improved support for XML, a Web standard for exchanging data, and better security for using Enterprise JavaBeans, a Java-based programming model.
VisualAge for Java 3.0 features support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition and better database connectivity, the company said.
The WebSphere Performance Pack features new caching technology, which temporarily stores information from a database. And WebSphere Studio 3.0, software for designing Web sites, now allows for team development and is integrated with the application server for fast debugging.