Last week, IBM took several steps to make its WebSphere products more appealing to JD Edwards users. Big Blue’s latest moves could partly be a response to the competitive heat it has been catching from Oracle Fusion Middleware in companies that count both vendors as strategic suppliers.

On December 4, IBM announced a new release of its WebSphere Adapter for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne that runs natively on the System i. As many of you “blue stack” aficionados know, WebSphere Adapters enable applications running on WebSphere Application Server to integrate with software from other vendors. For years, IBM has offered an EnterpriseOne adapter that runs in AIX, Linux, and Windows environments. Now, the V6.1 release of the adapter supports i5/OS as well. In addition, the new release supports the JD Edwards Dynamic Java Connector API with Business Functions, among other capabilities.

If you want to try out the new adapter on your System i, you’ll need to be running i5/OS V5R3 or V5R4 along with WebSphere Application Server V6.1. The adapter supports EnterpriseOne Tools 8.9 SP1 and SP2 as well as 8.93 through 8.96. By the way, your developers must use Rational Application Developer V7.5 to work with the adapters. Fortunately, you can download the development tool for free via an open beta program for the product.

To show that it is serious about winning new business, IBM also announced a promotion for selected WebSphere products. From now through May 31 of next year, customers can “trade up” from competitive middleware to similar WebSphere products and save anywhere from 60% to 74% off list prices. The discounts apply to WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment, WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, WebSphere Message Broker, WebSphere Process Server, and WebSphere Integration Developer.

IBM’s new promotion could indicate that it is having a tougher time selling WebSphere into companies that use applications from Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft. These vendors have their own middleware stacks and are increasingly using their relationships with application customers to sell those stacks. Over the last year, we have noticed a significant increase in the number of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customers who are deploying selected Oracle Fusion Middleware products and considering whether to become “100% red stack” shops. By slashing sticker prices on its middleware, IBM could be trying to dislodge Fusion Middleware products from sites where they could act as a wedge to drive out any remaining WebSphere licenses.

Regardless of what IBM’s motives may be, its latest announcements give IBM representatives a new reason to call on JD Edwards accounts. Depending on your middleware strategy, they may also give you a reason to talk with them.