IBM to resell tool for .Net uers to build WebSphere apps

Mainsoft product lets Microsoft developers create applications for IBM's Java portal

IBM signed on Monday an agreement to resell Mainsoft's new .Net Extensions for WebSphere Portal product that will allow companies to use .Net to create Java applications for IBM's WebSphere portal.

IBM expects that the tools will help its customers integrate Windows SharePoint Services, Office document libraries, SQL Server Reports and .Net applications into IBM's WebSphere Portal Server without the need for Java developers, the two companies said.

Mainsoft CEO Yaacov Cohen said that the deal is aimed at helping companies that have installed SharePoint portals at the departmental level to leverage the WebSphere enterprise portal.

"Organizations can break the silos of information and take the valuable information from SharePoint sites and make this information able to participate in composite applications," he said. "For the first time, you get composite applications across .Net and Java. The idea is to enable organizations to achieve portal-to-portal interoperability using WebSphere portal as a kind of uber portal, which will federate SharePoint departmental sites."

Healthways Inc., a Nashville-based provider of health care support services, began using the Mainsoft technology in April to build a WebSphere portal for its 27 million customers, said David Jarmoluk, director of enterprise architecture at Healthways. The company wanted to leverage its Microsoft programmers for the portal, but didn't think SharePoint would scale well enough for the job, he said.

So, the company used the Mainsoft's Visual Studio-based .Net Extensions for WebSphere Portal product to allow its Microsoft programmers to develop and put into production dozens of .Net applications in the portal without having to rewrite them in Java, he noted.

Jarmoluk said that developers were able to continue using the Visual Studio environment they best understood, and that the company therefore didn't have to hire any Java programmers. He estimated that the tool set saved the company 30 percent to 35 percent in time and costs compared with adding new Java developers, he noted.

"It is all about usability from a developer standpoint and being able to leverage the expertise we already have," he said. "There are a lot of costs and overhead associated with trying to train people and get them up to speed with a new thing. We were able to significantly reduce that by letting our developers continue to use what they already know."

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