Actional Upgrades Web Services Management App

Actional, one of the young companies supplying Web-services management products, has upgraded its Soapstation application.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

July 23, 2003

2 Min Read

Actional Corp., one of the young companies supplying Web-services management products, has upgraded its Soapstation application to deal with legacy XML services as well as more recent networked services based on the Simple Object Access Protocol.

If a retail chain of stores built an inventory system that exchanged XML messages based on pre-Soap and Web Services Description Language standards, Soapstation 4.1 could still recognize and manage that XML-based exchange as part of a larger collection of Web services, says Ken Rutsky, vice president of product marketing.

Soapstation now recognizes XML traffic that has no message headers, or formatted destination information automatically built into Soap-based systems, Rutsky said. "It'll handle raw or native XML" that was implemented by early users.

In addition to monitoring XML message flow and events, such as response times and transactions, in an XML message stream, Soapstation and other Web-services management tools can serve as a transformation engine, reformatting non-Soap XML into messages with the correct header information to become part of a Web service, says Tom Rhinelander, an analyst with the market-research firm New Rowley Group. "Actional is trying to cast the widest possible net," he says. By reaching out to early XML users, who weren't necessarily Soap oriented, the vendor is broadening its potential customer base. Many companies in insurance and financial services adopted their own XML standards and implement XML systems apart from the Microsoft/IBM-sponsored Simple Object Access Protocol, Rhinelander notes.

Soapstation 4.1 now has a set of command line and graphical tools for moving management policies from one environment to another. A development version of a Web service might have a set of rules and configuration settings that could be moved with the service into a test environment, then into a production environment, using Soapstation 4.1, Rutsky says. The new version also includes clustering capabilities in Soapstation for the first time, allowing a group of Soapstation applications to function as a logical unit. If one fails, its monitoring and transformation duties could be shifted to another running Soapstation.

Web-services management vendors are feeling increased competition from platform vendors, such as BEA Systems or IBM's WebSphere, that have begun to add Web-services management into their Java development systems, says Rhinelander. To keep pace, Actional is adding tools that incorporate management capabilities into applications during the development phase.

Actional has been making "some strong moves that focus on a services-oriented architecture," where distributed systems need to interact without knowing a lot about each other, says Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at Zap Think, an XML-oriented research group.

Soapstation 4.1 is priced at $50,000 for a server with up to two CPUs.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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