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IBM's 'Slap At Cisco'?

This week, we had a pithy analysis of the recent IBM DataPower deal by Lorrie McVittie, which raised some key questions about how IBM will integrate the DataPower technology into its product line.
This week, we had a pithy analysis of the recent IBM DataPower deal by Lorrie McVittie, which raised some key questions about how IBM will integrate the DataPower technology into its product line.XML Gateways are useful for stymieing XML-based attacks. As explained by a Network Computing article (Network Computing is a sister publication of SOA Pipeline), the danger is that a successful XML-based attack can act as a master key and expose application vulnerabilities. SOAP messages carry instructions in protocols that are interpreted as functions to be executed on servers; thus application-server-specific attacks can be transported inside the XML and passed to the application server, where they can wreak absolute havoc.

Indeed, Network Computing, did a comparison review of XML gateways earlier this year, and thought highly of the DataPower XS40. And we've been seeing a rash of mergers and partnerships that bring together networks and application services to optimize application performance.

But this doesn't explain the IBM acquisition.

IBM says that it will offer DataPower products "as the cornerstone of a new product line that will provide specialized, dedicated SOA appliances." Lorrie guesses that that IBM also will integrate DataPower technology into its SOA strategy--specifically its ESB (Enterprise Service Bus)--and will tweak WebSphere to harness DataPower's accelerated XML parsing and transformation capabilities.

Still, as Lorrie points out, this is a strange move for IBM, given that DataPower is hardware-based and IBM's hardware is focused on servers, not networking. The announcement comes on the heels of Intel's acquisition of Sarvega, though it doesn't appear that the Intel acquisition influenced the IBM move. Of course, IBM's strategy could be an advance "slap" at Cisco's AON (Application-Oriented Networking) strategy, which was announced earlier this year, but has yet to cough up any actual products. Stay tuned.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing