IBM has made a host of announcements in the fast-growing SOA space. The company has launched four new products, 23 new versions of existing software and 11 service offerings.

IBM said that the products had been released in response to customer demand and filled some holes in its existing SOA line-up. notably in the areas of business process management and industry-specific services.

"Any holes are a recognition of what customers are trying to do," Steve Mills, senior vice president of IBM's software group, said. "Early SOA adopters may have found gaps and had to do some handcrafting. They can avoid doing that now."

So far, IBM has helped nearly 3,000 customers to put SOA in place, Mills said. However, only a "relatively modest percentage" of those users have been using the SOA approach for a number of years, he added.

Mills stressed IBM's need to be seen by customers as "the" industry provider of end-to-end SOA capabilities. While there are plenty of small niche SOA players, IBM mostly competes with HP. when pitching an SOA portfolio. IBM is investing more than US$1 billion in SOA-related areas this year, he said.

One of the four new products IBM launched is WebSphere Business Services Fabric. The software is based on the technology IBM acquired when it purchased SOA player Webify in August and also draws on services from IBM business partners. The product includes prebuilt accelerators, tools and frameworks to help ensure that SOA applications comply with specific industry regulations.

Another new offering is WebSphere Registry and Repository (WSRR) to help customers manage their web services and shared business processes. The software enables users to publish and find SOA services and can also hook into third-party registries and repositories.

The two other new tools are Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database and Tivoli Dynamic Workload Broker.

IBM also has made SOA-related improvements in members of its WebSphere middleware, Rational development tools, Lotus collaboration and Tivoli systems management families. The new SOA services focus on three key areas - security, service management and virtualisation.

Tracy LeGrand, chief architect and vice president of technology, strategy and architecture at Ameriprise Financial, was particularly interested in the two new WebSphere products. The financial planning and banking brokerage company based in Minneapolis dates its move into what would later be termed SOA as beginning in 1999 and chose IBM as the IT vendor to help it adopt that new approach. Over the years, the customer has noted some gaps in IBM's offerings, which have required Ameriprise to act as a systems integrator.

"This announcement has closed some major gaps for us," LeGrand said. "I'm not sure if there are more."

IBM's WebSphere Business Services Fabric could help Ameriprise avoid duplicating work Webify and IBM have already done in providing industry-specific services relating to standards like ACORD in the insurance industry, LeGrand said. He's also interested in the vendor's WSRR since Ameriprise previously had to build its own registry.