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Next Up For SOA: Convergence And Consolidation

A look at the future direction of SOA intermediary products and related market categories, including Web 2.0, business process management, and application front ends.
Security gateways started out as XML accelerator appliances, designed to take the load off systems burdened by bloated, text-heavy XML messages. They can still provide many of these functions, speeding up content-based routing and proxy-based management. However, vendors soon found that the killer app for XML appliances was security, thanks to fears that Web services messages were carrying threats straight through the corporate firewall.

Also In This Report
>> Analysis of 18 vendors' products in four core SOA categories
>> Comprehensive description of the functionality offered by each type of SOA product
>> A look at the impact of Web 2.0, business process management, complex event processing, and Web services standards on SOA
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As a result, standard firewalls have become application-aware. An XML firewall goes even further up the stack, reading the contents of XML messages to determine whether they are a threat. Because RIAs often use non-XML formats or invoke commands through protocol headers, XML firewalls now need to look beyond XML, examining all application-layer traffic. At present, security gateways are the only products that can provide XML firewall functionality, though AFE vendors are entering the market.

Security gateways also are designed to perform other Web services security functions, including XML encryption, digital signature verification, and AAA. They compete with or augment runtime management software. Gateways can also help with lower-level security protocols such as Secure Sockets Layer, though here they're up against AFEs and ordinary firewalls.

Although they started out as hardware appliances, security gateways are increasingly being provided as software, with several vendors offering virtual appliances. The switch is also prompting some to move into Web services management and SOA governance. Hardware XML firewalls increasingly will be embedded inside the network infrastructure, supplied by AFEs that can also provide hardware acceleration of other SOA functions.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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Salvatore Salamone, Managing Editor, Network Computing