Appliances Accelerate XML Data Traffic

DataPower, Sarvega reduce processing of text-heavy format, provide central management.

Two new appliances are taking XML processing and management out of the application server and putting it on the network.

Devices from startups DataPower Technology Inc. and Sarvega Inc. are moving the processing into XML-aware networking appliances that can speed the routing and processing of XML data, provide central management, and add security features.

DataPower this week will ship its XA35 XML Accelerator appliance, which processes XML at wire speed and can improve performance tenfold over servers, officials said.

The device enhances speeds because XML data is transmitted as text and requires larger amounts of computing power to process than binary data. By the same token, the XML text can provide business information that enables the appliances to make sophisticated processing and routing decisions, said Steve Kelley, CEO of DataPower, in Cambridge, Mass.

DataPower has worked on XML processing for three years in other software and XML engine products. The XA35 supports XML routing, transforming XML data into various formats, validating XML documents and parsing them.

Separately, Chicago-based Sarvega is working on the second generation of its Sarvega XPE Switch, which launched in May. The next version, due this fall, will focus on improved XML routing capabilities and new features for securing XML on the network, officials said. The XPE Switch has focused on intelligent XML switching and transforming XML among various formats to route it to various applications and devices.

Most enterprises using XML are handling it on application servers that run specific applications. As Web services are deployed and the amount of XML data grows, companies will need XML-aware devices to manage and process XML centrally rather than in individual application servers, as well as to deal with security issues, said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink LLC. The Waltham, Mass., consultancy predicts that XML data will rise from about 2 percent of LAN traffic today to about 25 percent in the next five years.

Moving XML off application servers and onto DataPowers XA35 has helped Hemscott Group Ltd. trim response times for customers searching for financial data and information on the companys online research tool.

With its Company Guru service, London-based Hemscott found that the Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations engine it was using to create custom reports was taking as much as 20 seconds to transform XML, said Ray Beaumont, a technical architect at Hemscott. That dropped to less than 2 seconds, and even milliseconds, with the XA35.

"We had some reservations about using a custom hardware solution, [but] the performance gains solved a business problem, and there was no software that could do the same thing for us," Beaumont said.

Chandru Bolaki, a director of research and development at CommWorks Corp., looks forward to the dynamic routing in Sarvegas XPE upgrade. "What theyre throwing in the next generation can do dynamic routing, almost like anyone who fires up a Sarvega client on their PC or workstation [can] now receive updates," said Bolaki, in Rolling Meadows, Ill.