Web services players push management barrow

SAN FRANCISCO (09/29/2003) - Web services vendors Actional Corp., AmberPoint Inc. and Empirix Inc. this week will attempt to improve Web services management capabilities with a host of product releases.

AmberPoint on Tuesday will unveil Exception Manager for resolving operational and business exceptions in Web services systems, while Empirix is bolstering testing and monitoring with its e-Test suite 6.8 and OneSight 4.8.

For its part, Actional on Monday will announce its SOAPstation Edge XML firewall software and MyServicesPortal dashboard for monitoring Web services activity and service-level agreement compliance.

The company also is embedding technology called Service Stabilizer in its products, for automatically triggering corrective actions in a network. This technology is part of the Actional 5.0 release of the company's platform, featuring SOAPstation 5.0 and Looking Glass 5.0.

Actional's SOAPstation Edge enables Web services management to be conducted outside a firewall by extending the brokering capabilities of the company's SOAPstation product.

An add-on product to SOAPstation, SOAPstation Edge, reduces redundant processing in Simple Object Access Protcol (SOAP) messages, providing XML firewall capabilities and processing of messages and management policy in a single message passage, said Dan Foody, chief technology officer at Actional.

"It's full XML firewall management together with a full XML management broker," Foody said.

MyServicesPortal provides a portal for both technical and non-technical persons to examine factors such as how a service network affects a particular customer, said Foody. Users can customize their views of the management system.

Service Stabilizer identifies and corrects undesirable operating conditions in Web services and services-based applications before they become problems, according to Actional. For example, Service Stabilizer can detect if a network is overloaded, Foody said.

An analyst said she considered Service Stabilizer the most interesting part of Actional's announcement. "What it lets (developers) do is the developer can have a variable that says if the system becomes overloaded, I can use a different module instead of the one we use under normal conditions," said Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at JNoel Associates. She said she would like to see the technology extended to non-Web services-based applications.

The technology is included in versions 5.0 of SOAPstation and Looking Glass as well as in the SOAPstation Edge and MyServicesPortal.

The Actional 5.0 platform, which features the new products, is set for general availability in November. Actional has not yet released pricing.

AmberPoint Exception Manager is intended to detect and resolve distributed business exceptions in Web services systems, ranging from simple data entry errors to complex faults, the company said. It enables businesses to react more quickly to operational and business contingencies and minimize inefficiencies, according to AmberPoint.

"It's designed to detect and manage and resolve exceptions for distributed collections of Web services," said Dhrue Gupta, senior product manager at AmberPoint. "An example of a business exception might be an e-business system that ships an order without charging for shipping," he said.

The software features a distributed agent-based architecture. AmberPoint Exception Manager, which ships next quarter, starts in price at US$50,000.

Meanwhile, Empirix will announce on Monday new Web services monitoring capabilities for its e-Test suite and OneSight products. The products feature a script wizard to simplify scripting needed to test and monitor Web services, the company said.

This capability is added in Version 6.8 of the e-Test suite and Version 4.8 of OneSight. The e-Test product is used prior to launching applications while OneSight is used to manage and monitor applications in production, according to Joe Alwen, vice president of marketing at Empirix.

The Web services scripting technology automates the development of complex Web services transaction scripts, said Dan Koloski, product manager for e-Test at Empirix.

"The way that (Web services) will be tested is by creating a synthetic transaction and making sure that that transaction performs properly, functionally and then under load," Koloski said. Users can then be notified of any failures.

The e-Test suite 6.8 software, which starts in price at around $10,000 for 50 virtual users, ships on Wednesday. OneSight 6.8 is due to be available by the end of the year, starting in price at roughly $50,000.

The two products effectively replace the company's FirstAct software designed for piloting of Web services applications, company officials said.

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