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Mercury's Latest Tools Broaden Capabilities In SOA Management, Testing

Mercury Interactive Corp., a maker of business technology optimization software, is reaching deeper into the lifecycle of distributed components within a service-oriented architecture.
Mercury Interactive Corp., a maker of business technology optimization software, is reaching deeper into the lifecycle of distributed components within a service-oriented architecture.

The Mountain View, Calif., company released on Monday two testing products, an upgrade of the Systinet component registry, and new SOA management capabilities within the Business Availability Center, a suite of software management tools. The announcement was made at the Mercury World user conference in Las Vegas.

Collectively, the new products and enhancements are a part of Mercury's strategy of providing more than just tools for testing SOA components before and after they're deployed, Ron Schmelzer, analyst for ZapThink LLC, said Tuesday. "Mercury wants to get its arms around the whole issue of lifecycle quality."

Mercury now has a "deep, comprehensive toolset for the entire service lifecycle, from design time through deployment to runtime management and dynamic service change and reconfiguration," ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said in an email.

"As a result, as companies achieve success with their SOA initiatives, Mercury will be able to support them from the earliest stages to full enterprise SOA rollout," Bloomberg said.

SOA is a type of distributed computing in which standards-based interfaces are used to connect application functionality. Data is traded by way of technology based on extensible markup language, or XML.

SOA, formerly called distributed objects architecture, was often used initially to carry data to in-house Web portals. The technology is gradually moving up the IT food chain to handle integration of supply-chain applications between companies, and to automate in-house business processes.

With the increasing complexity has come the need for better tools to manage the spider web of components, often called services, trading XML data packets. Mercury starts its mission with version 2.1 of Systinet 2, a registry and repository with a set of governance capabilities that include service publishing and discovery, policy management, contract management, interoperability and lifecycle management.

New features include customizable dashboards for configuring views of the SOA environment, and gaining better visibility and access to data. There are also out-of-the-box reports for key SOA functions, such as service lifecycle reporting, reusability, consumption, quality and relationship dependencies. In addition, there's a new service taxonomy management tool for categorizing, labeling and organizing services based on business and technical priorities and requirements.

On the testing side, Mercury unveiled its new Service Test 8.1 and Service Test Management products. The former conducts both functional and performance tests for services, and the latter manages the process of testing new services and service changes.

Service Test Management is an integrated module of Mercury Quality Center 9.0. The new tool can be used to perform service test planning, execution, defect evaluation and analytics.

Service Test is a standalone product built on Mercury's LoadRunner technology for testing applications. The new product can automatically generate tests for services without graphical user interfaces; and can perform functional, boundary, compliance and interoperability testing.

The new capabilities within the Business Availability Center version 6.2 include integration with the Systinet Registry and the Mercury Application Mapping tool to enable automatic discovery of newly registered services, as well as detecting unregistered "rogue" services that do not comply with defined governance policies for services in production.

The BAC can also correlate the relationships and interdependencies between services, applications and infrastructure components, as well as identify changes to services in production. There are also monitoring capabilities for immediate updates on the health, availability, and performance of services, composite applications and related infrastructure and application components.

In July, Hewlett-Packard Co. said it planned to acquire Mercury for $4.5 billion in cash. The sale is pending.

If completed, Mercury technology is likely to be integrated with OpenView, HP's line of IT management products. At that point, Mercury's technology is expected to be used in managing systems that run the components of an SOA.

"Mercury will then be reaching into runtime management as well," Schmelzer said.

HP's acquisition of Mercury came at a good time for the smaller company. Its strategy of providing all the tools necessary to cover the entire service lifecycle within an SOA places it in direction competition with tech giant IBM, as well as CA and BMC.