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Mercury Reaches For SOA Ring As HP Acquisition Nears

Mercury needs to move beyond its historic strength to rise to what HP wants from the deal.
Mercury Interactive's latest product offerings show how it's maneuvering to cash in on companies' push to implement service-oriented architectures. It's a major strategic move tied in to its still-pending acquisition by Hewlett-Packard.

HP wants Mercury to serve as a centerpiece for its software strategy. Managing services in a service-oriented architecture is key to HP's software future.

On Monday, HP said it's extending its $52 per share tender offer for a third time until midnight Oct. 27. The move indicates it's nearing its target, and the deal is likely to be consummated on schedule. It has 81.5 million shares tendered, or more than 90% of the shares outstanding.

Mercury recently upgraded its services registry and repository offerings and added services testing to its suite. The adoption of those will help determine if Mercury can grow beyond its historic strength to tap SOA growth as HP hopes.

Mercury's strength has been software to manage testing of freshly minted software. From there, it moved into application monitoring, and in its latest re-invention has taken up business technology optimization--managing and monitoring the software infrastructure for optimum performance. Business technology optimization matches up nicely with the current needs of managing services under SOA. SOA offers large gains, says Avrami Tzur, Mercury's VP of SOA strategy, "but big promise includes big risk. Without SOA governance, there's a danger of rogue services," he says.

A full-fledged SOA will require companies to generate hundreds or thousands of software-based services that are used over and over again by various composite applications, and there's a constant hazard that some services composed on a trial basis will remain hanging around, unaccounted for but available to someone who might use them for the wrong purposes. A service invoked by a rogue user is a rogue service, says Tzur. Mercury has upgraded its Systinet product acquisition to Systinet 2.0, which now includes both a registry and a repository of services. Through the Systinet repository, an administrator can set policies governing services and view feedback on their use levels and device dependencies.

A registry is used primarily by developers looking for an appropriate service on the network. A repository with governance rules lets a business analyst view a service catalog, pick out a service, review its key properties, and determine whether it's appropriate to use for a new composite application.

The repository also aids an enterprise architect in establishing a taxonomy or classification system that lets related services be grouped together and made easier to find, Tzur says.

As a further step into services management, Mercury has added a Service Test Management module to its Quality Center product to manage the testing of services. A service that draws on 10 data sources and can be reached through 10 interfaces will need a minimal battery of 1,000 tests. An automated system is needed to help manage the extensive testing process that services require, Tzur says.

Systinet 2.0, which is a Web services platform as well as a registry and repository, is priced at $250,000 for small deployments, and up to $1 million for an enterprise SOA deployment. Mercury Service Test Management starts at $4,000.

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