Vendors target Web services/SOA mix

Iona Technologies and Reactivity this week are scheduled to unveil their latest infrastructure technology aimed at helping users build service-oriented architectures.

Iona plans to release Artix 3.0, which adds real-time upgrade features, integration with corporate development tools, failover capabilities and support for emerging Web services standards for transactions.

Separately, Reactivity is set to unveil an appliance it calls SOA Gateway, which is designed to provide security and connection to legacy applications for users deploying Web services in and among corporate data centers. The gateway, for use internally, is being paired with Reactivity's XML Security Gateway, which is designed to run on the edge of corporate networks.

Interest in the concept of SOA has grown over the past year as companies find success with initial Web services projects focused on point-to-point integration. Now they want to fit those Web services into an SOA but find they are missing needed tools and infrastructure, according to experts.

"What users are finding out is that the theory of an SOA is more attractive than the reality," says Shawn Willett, an analyst with Current Analysis. "The nitty-gritty is that you need to accommodate a lot of ways to get at information and ways to pass transactions that are not covered by today's Web services standards. People are realizing that and trying to accommodate that."

Willett says users are finding that the definition of a standard is not clean and tidy, and that simple request and response sorts of services don't substitute for transactional integrity. "It is hard to fit that into Web services the way the standards are written right now," he says. "So users have to be flexible in their definition of service in order to build an SOA."

Iona is trying to provide some of that flexibility with Artix 3.0, which runs within the services and is not installed as a hub in the network. Artix uses plug-ins to legacy transaction platforms and applications that help expose those systems as services with support for a wide range of protocols, transports, data models and security standards. New in Version 3.0 is an extension that lets users upgrade services without having to take them down. Iona also has added support for the Eclipse development environment and Visual Studio .Net so developers can use familiar tools when building new services that incorporate Artix.

"It's like application server clustering without the application server," says Eric Newcomer, CTO for Iona, which competes with Sonic, webMethods and Actional.

The Artix 3.0 is slated to cost $10,000 per CPU.

Reactivity's angle is a set of appliances to boost the performance and secure communications within an SOA, especially in the data center, where SOA Gateway is focused.

"In the data center, you have a higher level of transaction rates so there are larger numbers of interactions that occur, and there is a much higher emphasis on identity and access control," says Andrew Nash, CTO of Reactivity.

SOA Gateway integrates with existing authentication and authorization systems such as those from RSA and Oblix, and acts as an access and policy enforcement point in the network. It also logs each transaction. The gateway includes acceleration technology to speed access control and policy lookups, and supports more than 250 XML and non-XML data formats.

The appliance runs on top of Red Hat Linux and includes Reactivity's XML Operating System. It competes with similar products from Datapower, Sarvega and Forum Systems.

Software and appliances from Iona and Reactivity come on the heels of Vordel's updates earlier this month to its Secure XML Gateway and Director products. Both feature a new XML schema editor that generates an XML schema from a message based on Simple Object Access Protocol. Secure Gateway has been updated with an XPath wizard, which lets users specify what parts of an XML document must be signed and encrypted, and integration with Web access control platforms from RSA.

SOA Gateway costs $65,000.

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