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BEA Puts Bus on Automatic, Adds Workflow to Integration

Eying large-scale SOA deployments, BEA links AquaLogic Service Bus to UDDI registries and brings human exception handling to system-to-system integration scenarios.

As business embrace and scale up services oriented architectures (SOA), management and integration challenges mount. BEA responded to the demands of maturing SOA environments on November 6 by announcing it would beef up its AquaLogic Service Bus and WebLogic Integration products. It also introduced BEA AquaLogic Integrator, a bundling of the service bus and integration products that will be offered at a steep discount.

Version 2.6 of BEA AquaLogic Service Bus (ALSB) incorporates two significant upgrades aimed at improving support for large-scale SOA deployments. First, a new integration between ALSB and UDDI V.3-compliant services registries automatically updates the bus on any changes to services. Currently, administrators can subscribe to notifications that inform them about changes in, say, service versions or locations, but they have to then have to manually import those changes to the service bus. “That’s not a big deal if you have a small-scale SOA project, but the effort grows as the number of services grows,” says Kelly Emo, a director of product marketing at BEA. “As you get up to 50 or 100 services, manageability gets quite challenging -- enough to keep multiple administrators busy tracking service changes.”

ALSB 2.6 will also gain new features for customizing configuration scenarios and automating deployment. The features will include APIs for configuration actions and support for rules-based deployment so you can reuse logic for actions such as routing and transformation, applying them in template fashion to future projects. Other upgrades in ALSB 2.6 include support for SOAP 1.2 as well as the ability to invoke a database lookup directly from the bus in order to enrich or validate messages.

The key upgrade to BEA WebLogic Integration 9.2 is a new Worklist module with a drag-and-drop design environment, forms-based test console and out-of-the-box portlets for user interaction. The module is designed to bring better workflow and exception-handling capabilities to the system-to-system oriented WebLogic Integration environment. The upgrade lets you avoid using a separate BPM suite or workflow system when human interaction needs are basic. “That’s defiantly of interest because in many scenarios, workflow would be overkill,” says BEA customer Clinton Chow, chief application architect at the City of Chicago’s Department of Business and Information Services. “In trying to move data from one system to another, for instance, if there are exceptions, we don’t often need complete workflow functionality to handle retries and things of that nature.”

The City of Chicago is using BEA’s complete WebLogic and AquaLogic stack, and half a dozen departments (out of more than 46) are participating in a three-year-old SOA deployment. Thus far, the city has deployed 25 fine-grained services for tasks such as payment processing and record lookups, and there are dozen course-grained services for needs such as integrating with Oracle Accounts Receivable.

Chicago’s SOA initiative doesn’t qualify as a truly large-scale deployment as yet, but Chow says the service bus upgrades will be of interest: “As more and more departments start coming aboard, we’re going to see the same sorts of services being used over and over again, so a templated approach and automated updates would be valuable.”

BEA doesn’t disclose the pricing for publication, but BEA AquaLogic Integrator is said to offer ALSB and WebLogic Integration bundled at more than a 30-percent discount. BEA WebLogic Integration 9.2 and AquaLogic Integrator will be available by year end and BEA AquaLogic Service Bus 2.6 will be released in the first quarter next year. All three products are key components of the recently announced BEA SOA 360 platform.

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