Blue Titan Software, founded in 2001, and a group of fellow startups that include AmberPoint, Confluent, and Flamenco Networks, are attempting to create Web-services hubs in the enterprise where an existing networked service can be called and reused by more than one application.
Blue Titan's Network Director 2 is priced in the range of $150,000, depending on usage, and establishes a Web-services layer on a network server with a rules engine governing how intensively the services will be used, explains Sam Boonin, VP of marketing at the San Francisco company. Nobody knows for sure, but the market for Web-services management software may prove to be an important niche in network management.
"Companies will begin to accept service-oriented architectures this year, and it will become the dominant distributed computing approach in 2006," predicts Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink, an XML and Web services-research group. A class of software that barely registers on the applause meter today may prove to be a $10 billion market by 2005, he says.
Companies pioneering the field will have until the end of 2005 or so before the large systems and network-management vendors, such as Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM step in. ZapThink predicts small companies such as Blue Titan and AmberPoint will garner $2 billion of an approximately $10 billion market that year.
The services-oriented architecture, or as Boonin says, the services layer, makes use of XML and Simple Object Access Protocol to generate a way of communicating between existing, callable services and applications that need a service.
In the future, developers who wish to include a check on inventory for a given product may not have to code the connection into their application. Through the Network Director's shared network infrastructure, a common business function such as "look up inventory status" can be loosely coupled to many existing or future apps, Boonin says.
"Once you create a good interface for one application, it can be reused across many applications," if managed by a services layer, such as Network Director, he adds.
Another way of describing what Network Director does is that it acts as a router for the Soap protocol, taking requests for services and translating them into service requests to the proper destination.
A Soap router "sits as a shared network resource that can do a variety of things," he says.
Among other things, the new features of Network Director 2 include:
- Active event messaging: When an event occurs that reflects on the delivery of Web services, a message is triggered to a person or software system capable of responding appropriately.
- Adaptive policy execution: Policies and rules on how Web apps should respond can be adapted in real time to changes in current traffic.
- Soap Stack interoperability: Any service consumer making a request can be responded to through the Web-services layer without needing to create new software or connections.
- Support for emerging standards: By adopting a Web services-oriented architecture, such as Network Director, users may adopt Web Services Security, Web Services Reliable Messaging, and other standards of the World Wide Web Consortium as they are adopted. A Web-services architecture assumes the way to exchange messages and app services will be based on Web standards, according to Boonin.
Right now, Web-services security is difficult to implement without a lot of specialized programmer effort. In the future, Boonin says, it's likely to be a standard service through a Web-services architecture.