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AmberPoint Adds Web Services Management To Visual Studio

Express version of the software is in beta one of Microsoft's new Team System product
Microsoft is leveraging its partnership with AmberPoint to provide Web services management and monitoring functionality to its upcoming Visual Studio 2005 Team System, representatives from both companies said Monday.

A scaled-down version of AmberPoint's full software suite, called Amberpoint Express, already shipped with the beta one version of Visual Studio 2005, which became available earlier this month, said Ed Horst, AmberPoint's VP of marketing.

Amberpoint Express--which provides monitoring, analysis and management of Web services created in service-oriented architectures--will ship with the full version of Team System, which Microsoft expects to release in the first half of 2005. Microsoft officially introduced the tool in May as one of the new SKUs for Visual Studio 2005, replacing the previous Visual Studio .Net Enterprise Edition product.

Developers mainly will use AmberPoint's software just before deploying an application built with Visual Studio Team System, Horst said. AmberPoint Express will detect any service created in Visual Studio Team System and provide information about those services, such as performance spikes or possible errors in sending messages. By integrating that functionality with Team System, developers working on any facet of an application life cycle--from coders to quality insurance--can access the service information, he said.

A free version of the software is shipping with beta one of Visual Studio 2005 and will ship with the final product. However, Horst said he hopes that the free version will encourage customers to upgrade to AmberPoint's enterprise version, which starts at $50,000 per CPU.

At one point, some industry observers speculated that Microsoft was interested in buying a Web-services management vendor. But so far, Microsoft has not made such a move. Prashant Sridharan, lead project manager for Visual Studio at Microsoft, declined to comment on whether Microsoft was mulling an acquisition in the space.

For now, Sridharan said, Microsoft plans to leverage partners--and primarily AmberPoint--to provide that functionality in its tools. "AmberPoint has a good track record of integrating with Visual Studio, and that's why we've chosen them," he said. "Clearly, AmberPoint is the one that delivers the most comprehensive solution."

AmberPoint also partners with BEA Systems Inc. and IBM to integrate Web services functionality with their Java application servers, but AmberPoint products don't ship directly with software from BEA or IBM, Horst said. Yet AmberPoint plans to continue to support Java and .Net, since most enterprise customers will have both technologies in their IT systems, he added.

Sridharan said he wasn't certain if Microsoft would do other betas of Visual Studio 2005 before the product's full release next year. "Whether we do another formal beta or not depends on the feedback we get from developers," he said.

However, community drops of technology previews of tools--which give certain Microsoft partners early access to Visual Studio code--have been "useful," Sridharan said, adding that Microsoft likely will do one or more of those around Visual Studio 2005 before its release.

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