Rolling Review: Thinking Inside the SOA Box - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications
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Rolling Review: Thinking Inside the SOA Box

As service-oriented architectures move into the IT mainstream, can appliances reduce complexity? We'll find out in our latest ongoing review series.

Service-oriented Architecture standards and tools are firming up nicely. But in a prime example of the maxim "be careful what you wish for," many IT groups are now scrambling to unravel the cultural, management, and political complexities that come along with maturing SOA implementations.

A number of vendors are promoting SOA appliances as the remedy for what ails IT in terms of integration, security, and governance. But when architects and developers go shopping for these new "SOA-in-a-box" systems, they're too often left with more questions than answers. Even the definition of what, exactly, comprises a SOA appliance is in flux.

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We decided to launch a Rolling Review to find out how well current offerings cover the bases on XML security, acceleration, transformation, and parsing functionality. We're looking to evaluate SOA appliances from Cast Iron, Cisco Systems, IBM, Layer7, Software AG, and Vordel on ease of installation and configuration, breadth of functionality, management capabilities, features, and price.

Appliances of all types are popular with IT pros because they tend to get projects moving quickly and for a lower total cost of ownership than building systems from scratch. Ideally, they're designed for ease of installation and maintenance and can integrate into the network almost immediately, then run with little or no support. Most of us think of an appliance as software pre-installed on specially configured hardware, but as virtualization gains popularity we're seeing a trend toward "virtual appliances" that skip the hardware.

Impact Assessment: SOA Appliances

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