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SOA transition prompts Web services management needs

As organizations evolve their Web services efforts toward SOA, they are looking for management solutions that go beyond traditional systems management capabilities.

As Providence Health System began its move toward a service-oriented architecture (SOA), it was the painful memories of past integration projects that prompted a search for a Web services management solution.

"Living through that, we needed to get something that will help us manage this," said Michael Reagin, director of research and development.

This need for management solutions is emerging as Web services move from the project and departmental levels to enterprise-wide deployments.

"People are stepping back and looking at governance and management," said Sandra Rogers, research director for Web services and integration software at IDC. She said some of the questions they ask include: Where do you define policy? Where do you enforce policy? How do you actively manage services?

Reagin said Providence Health System, a not-for-profit organization of hospitals, health plans, physicians and long-term care facilities based in Seattle, chose a Web services management platform from Infravio Inc., Cupertino, Calif. "They have a holistic look through the lifecycle," Reagin said. Support for both Microsoft and Java was also key, he noted.

Providence Health had an existing BMC Patrol implementation, used primarily for operational alerting, he said. The organization is using the Infravio X-registry "to track and manage Web services as far as reuse and provisioning. We're using their X-broker and Ensemble product line to do more of the managing, deploying, security and versioning, and some of horizontal aspects of an SOA," Reagin said.

Reagin also said Providence Health is using the NetIQ agent for monitoring Web services, which reports to BMC. NetIQ Corp., in San Jose, Calif., is a strategic partner and investor of Infravio.

Infravio is one of many positioning as a Web services and SOA management product. Web services management is "the intersection between managing messages, integration workflow and managing services from a production runtime environment," Rogers said. "A lot of different players are starting to converge and look at this space."

IDC expects worldwide spending on software to support Web services-based projects to grow from $1.1 billion in 2003 to $11 billion by 2008. Within this market, Rogers said systems infrastructure, which includes Web services and SOA management, is expected to grow from $256 million in 2003 to $3.2 billion by 2008.

The market has been rife with mergers and acquisitions. Companies like Actional Corp., AmberPoint Inc., Blue Titan Software Inc. and Infravio are what Rogers identifies as niche Web services management players, while traditional systems management players like Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates International Inc. have made acquisitions that extend their capabilities into this area. And most recently Oracle acquired Oblix Inc., an SOA management vendor providing authentication and identity management.

"Most organizations that are more advanced with Web services deployments are using one of the specialized vendors, but interfacing into their traditional systems management solutions," Rogers said. "All expectations are folks like HP and CA are moving to do more in that space."

And because many organizations have their Web services deployments somewhat silo'd, she said, many organizations "are defaulting to whatever is on their application server." So those vendors, too, are beefing up and partnering with pure-play Web services management vendors, she said.

Ed Horst, vice president of marketing at AmberPoint Inc., Oakland, Calif., said companies worry about several things in the SOA management stack: performance and availability, exceptions, policy management, security and the runtime governance of SOA. AmberPoint manages and monitors the dependencies and interactions of Web services, said Horst, including service-level management and exceptions management.

And as organizations move to an SOA to capitalize on the potential benefits of business agility and increased asset reuse, the need for management becomes more acute. "You're running your business on top of these services," said Miko Matsumura, Infravio's vice president of marketing. "Meta data isn't just meta data anymore; it's a lot more serious."

For example, he said, if an organization publishes a service, how does it know if that service complies with the enterprise's regulatory and compliance standards? And those standards may be different depending on whether the service is external or internal. "When you start thinking of these things [services] as assets, you have to treat them differently."

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