In a newsletter in January, I focused on recent acquisitions in the service-oriented architecture space, specifically those aimed at flow-based intelligence and analysis. These acquisitions, including IBM of Collation and Mercury of Systinet, hammered home one of the prevalent themes of the moment - it's not enough simply to monitor infrastructure and transactions any more, SOA management products need visibility into transactions and their context.Without this information, it is almost impossible to formulate the multi-dimensional business service mappings required to manage today's fluid and complex composite transactions.Since that newsletter was published, the trend has continued, as Progress Software (owner of Sonic Software), Symantec and Forum Systems added fuel to the acquisition fire by purchasing Actional, Relicore and Kenai Systems, respectively.On Jan. 19, Progress Software announced its intent to acquire Actional. Sonic and Actional are tier 1 vendors in the SOA space. Sonic's Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) SOA Suite 6.1, provides connection and orchestration of SOA services, secure messaging, scalability, and continuous availability. ESBs are pre-built SOA engines and are increasingly being used for production grade SOA rollouts to speed deployment and simplify integration efforts.Actional's Looking Glass adds transaction visibility and performance management, while its SOAPstation governs policy enforcement and XML security. Together, the Actional products add management and governance capabilities to ESB deployments by helping to regulate and optimize the delivery of business services.Symantec's acquisition of Relicore, announced on Feb. 7, is another example of the same trend, since Relicore is known for its powerful automated business-to-technology mapping capability. Relicore's differentiator is that it can see change as it happens in real time, and this makes it valuable, not just for SOA, but for potential application to IT Infrastructure Library-based Configuration Management Databases as well. The Relicore acquisition nicely complements Symantec's i3 product suite, which targets database, middleware and platform management capabilities.Finally, Forum Systems announced its intent to acquire Kenai Systems on Feb. 2. The interesting twist in this acquisition is that Forum already has extensive infrastructure visibility that is currently being applied to security (XWall Sentry, Presidio, and Vulcon) and XML acceleration (Vantage) products. The Kenai acquisition is a key differentiator as Kenai's eXamineST product, already being sold by Forum as XRay, instantly pinpoints security vulnerabilities, significantly easing implementation and maintenance complexity. This acquisition also removes Kenai from the marketplace, eliminating any danger of acquisition by a Forum competitor.Speaking of competitors, SOA vendors that lack flow-based management technology are well advised to act fast, because products with these capabilities are being swallowed up. In this case, the acquire-vs.-build philosophy pays off, because the technology underlying products like Relicore and Collation is complex to develop and takes years to build. Such products are in high demand, short supply and are going like hotcakes.Interested in hearing more about EMA's take on the SOA management space? Check out the EMA Web site. I am writing a series of three research papers that discuss SOA management in detail, and the first paper has just been posted. The remaining papers will be available as 2006 progresses.