Actional expands Web services management platform

Focusing on SOA (services-oriented architecture) management, Actional Corp. on Monday will extend its Web services management platform to manage relationships between other types of services as well, including databases, Web pages, middleware, and non-XML legacy systems.

To add management of these relationships, Actional is applying its agent technology. Version 5.1 of the Actional platform, available now, features Actional Active Agents for JDBC, JSP (Java Server Pages), and Servlets, as well as Active Agent for ASPX. The company also is offering a software development kit to manage legacy and non-SOAP services within an SOA environment.

"We're focused on managing the nature of SOA" and how each component affects the other, said Dan Foody, Actional CTO.

The Actional Looking Glass 5.1 control console has been enhanced to support the new Active Agents, leveraging Looking Glass features such as SLA monitoring and enforcement, correlation across services tiers, root cause analysis, and proactive monitoring, the company said.

Also featured in Looking Glass 5.1 is business impact analysis, to link operations and business needs. Service requests in Looking Glass 5.1 can be partitioned into user-defined dimensions to track service activity and apply service-level policies. Examples of dimensions include customer classification information, location, business structure, and order value.

Self-service in the 5.1 platform allows shared installations of Actional products to appear as if each user has a dedicated version of the software. Dedicated "virtual Web services management" software enables organizations to cut costs and complexity of managing separate installations, Actional said.

The 5.1 platform features "automated machine build-out" and provisioning to tailor services for unexpected uses, according to Actional. Automated machine build-out pertains to utility computing and automatically installing software, Foody said.

Looking Glass 5.1 also includes service stabilizers and capabilities for SLA enforcement, dependency tracking, and root cause analysis.

Actional with its new offerings is meeting customer requests to expand beyond Web services management, said Tom Rhinelander, analyst at New Rowley Group.

"This is about customers who have put Web services in place and figured out that Looking Glass helps them understand what's going on, but have asked Actional to let them look farther down," past the Web services layer, Rhinelander said. The company now must consider whether adding further management functionality, such as systems or database management, would be taking on too much responsibility, he said.

While established system management vendors such as Computer Associates are now offering Web services management software, Actional maintains it sill offers a difference. Most of the larger vendors are still taking the traditional view that resources are from separate from one another, Foody said. "Traditional IT management has never been good at knowing how one thing in IT affects another," he said.

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