Speeding Web services

* Strangeloop Networks looks to accelerate applications in an SOA environment

Corporate application portfolios are changing as software-as-a-service (SaaS), rich Internet applications and service-oriented architecture (SOA) deployments catch on. Traditional methods of accelerating applications need to keep up with the challenges posed by these dynamic applications, which can be tough to monitor and troubleshoot when performance hiccups arise.

One vendor focused on just those kinds of challenges is Strangeloop Networks, which late last month unveiled a new product designed specifically to accelerate applications in a SOA environment. (Compare Application Acceleration and WAN Traffic Optimization products)

Complex, data-intensive Web applications can put a strain on back-end servers as they try to serve repetitive Web service calls from users, partners and other applications, explains Joshua Bixby, cofounder and senior vice president of product management at Strangeloop. The WS1000 Web Services Accelerator automatically caches Web services to alleviate bottlenecks created by services-based composite applications. It has a built-in “choreography engine” with caching capabilities that can recognize Web services and adapt to changing traffic patterns to lessen the load on servers.

The appliance, which gets deployed between Web applications and back-end servers, can improve Web service response times by up to thirty-fold, the Vancouver, British Columbia, company says.

“Our customers are starting to take their software, they’re breaking it down into more and more little pieces. There’s a lot of distance between the data and the applications, there are a lot of calls, and they’re deciding to wrap all of this in Web services,” Bixby says.

“It’s the curse of success. These applications are proliferating, and as they start being utilized in the organization, they start to see performance challenges.”

On the management front, the Strangeloop WS1000 can automatically discover Web services and guide an IT administrator through the process of configuring caching policies. Reporting tools let staff review how individual services are being handled and measure server offload, latency and bandwidth reductions.

The new appliance tightly couples Web applications with networking technology, and it can reduce the need for costly new servers or mainframes, according to Zeus Kerravala, Yankee Group senior vice president of enterprise research. “Strangeloop's WS1000 lets companies improve their Web services with the systems they already have in place,” Kerravala said in a statement.

Strangeloop also offers the AS1000 Application Scaling Appliance for Microsoft ASP.NET and AJAX environments.

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