IBM Watson Commerce – Upgrading to IBM Watson Commerce v9 (New Release)

IBM Watson Commerce

Upgrading to IBM Watson Commerce v9 (New Release)

Are you considering upgrading your IBM WebSphere Commerce environment?  Wondering about the benefits of the new release?

With the announcement of WebSphere Commerce v7 end of support date of April 30th, 2019, now is a perfect time to look at Watson Commerce v9!  The new features provide value to all of your stakeholders and promise to reduce operating and administration costs.

The big advantage to version 9 is the new distributed server architecture which focuses on microservices. It has five major distributed servers –  transaction server, search server, utility server, extension server, and store server. The new architecture gives each server as its own Docker image. By breaking the servers out, performance can be managed at a more granular level – horizontal scaling becomes easy!

Interaction with WebSphere Commerce is no longer tightly coupled with IBM’s starter stores. With the REST APIs, a WebSphere Commerce implementation can be run as a headless storefront, that is, none of the starter stores are required. This allows user interfaces to be designed with the customer in mind. For the mobile crowd, the storefront could be designed so that the website looks and feels like a native mobile phone application.

In addition to Docker, the container management platform that allows for faster, more secure, and easier to operate infrastructure, developers get to take advantage of the external customization programming pattern to write customizations that are isolated while improving the security and stability of the application. Older technologies such as Struts, EJBs, and Dojo JavaScript library are replaced with Spring, JPA, and jQuery respectively.

Version 9 also allows for easier integration –  and not just for customization. Originally included with version 8, version 9 supports Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) that allows customer segments to be imported and exported to third party applications. Generic external inventory system and taxation integration support is included to track stock levels and to calculate taxes. Payment integration is now updated to handle tokenization. This eliminates the need for sensitive customer data, including masked credit card numbers, to be stored in the WebSphere Commerce database. Only the token is saved for payment processing.

With the customizations and other servers distributed with Docker, there are two significant advantages that version 9 provides. First, is the ease of horizontal scaling. For example, four application servers could be used to run an ecommerce site most of the year, but when the holiday peak season approaches, four servers could become 70. Scaling can be targeted to the servers needed, so the transaction server could be scaled to take more orders without having to scale out the search server. After peak season, servers can be scaled back.

The second advantage is the cost of hosting and deploying to Docker containers. The Version 9 environment can be set up and configured in a matter of hours and provides a sample implementation of the CI/CD pipeline. Using the Docker ROI Calculator, a basic set-up for WebSphere Commerce with 4 apps in the environment, a once per month deployment schedule, 4 current servers, moving to virtual machines, 20 hours of maintenance time, 2 hour deployments, 10 developers with 40 hours needed to onboard, the switch to Docker would yield a 3-year savings of over 58% from infrastructure cost optimization, IT operational savings, and developer productivity.

The benefits of version 9 also extend to business users. Management Center was updated in version 8 to minimize dependency on Adobe Flash technology. With the new Attachments tool, business users can use Watson Content Hub or a third-party file server to manage images and static assets – and reference those assets using the full or relative URL. Promotions have also been enhanced so the maximum redemptions on a single order limit can be applied to more promotion types.

Another benefit for business users is the ability to turn on or off the “searchable in storefront” attribute directly from Management Center.

In addition to the standard on-premise solution, IBM Commerce on Cloud offers the digital commerce experience using the software as a service model. For even more flexibility, Watson Commerce v9, combined with Docker, allows for a hybrid cloud model that can be used on any cloud provider that supports Docker.

With a current IBM support license, the upgraded license comes at no cost, and no set end-of-support date. With the added savings of Docker and ability to customize and integrate with a newer technology stack, there is no better time to upgrade.


About Alpine Consulting

Founded in 1996, Alpine Consulting is a leading technology solutions provider focused on eCommerce, Integration, and CounterFraud solutions and implementations.  Alpine is headquartered in Austin, TX.

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