Firms Line Up to Manage Web Services

Tools from actional and amberpoint to control, secure services content.

As enterprises continue to experiment with Web services, more vendors are starting to roll out tools to manage them.

Two in particular, Actional Corp. and AmberPoint Inc., this week will each unveil Web services management platforms that enable users to control and secure Web services content. In addition, British Telecommunications plc. is developing its own Web services management platform based on Flamenco Networks Inc. technology.

Industry observers say management tools will be crucial to Web services users, particularly as Web services traffic grows and standards are introduced.

Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer of Iona Technologies Inc., ranked management just under security as the top priorities for Web services. "Management is one of those things thats very hard to standardize, since it is the tail end of the dog," said Newcomer, in Waltham, Mass. "You have to know first of all what it is youre managing before you define a management standard."

"I dont think its that important yet," said Rich Salz, an XML developer and principal engineer at DataPower Technology Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "First, Web services can leverage the existing [Web] infrastructure for load balancing, redirection and so on. Second, Web services are probably already managed by existing enterprise stuff, like Computer Associates [International Inc.], [IBMs] Tivoli [software unit] or what have you."

Actional, of Mountain View, Calif., is unveiling SOAPstation, which will help connect the application server tier to Web services consumers via a platform that lets users control access to Web services, audit the use of those services and ensure their availability.

SOAPstation will provide users with a single point of control for Web services provisioning and act as a proxy to broker communication among Web services producers and consumers or among Web services-enabled applications and the systems that build on them. The product features access control, message interception, routing and security.

SOAPstation will complement the companys SOAPswitch, which provides secure, loosely coupled adaptation between back-end systems and application servers. SOAPstation will be released later this quarter, the company said.

Meanwhile, AmberPoint, of Oakland, Calif., next month plans to unveil a new version of its Management Foundation, which includes support for XML signatures and XML encryption, the company said. The release will let users secure Web services traffic across federated systems—systems or services integrated across multiple "trust boundaries" to encompass partners that abide by the same security rules, letting users carry their identity across partner systems.

For its part, London-based British Telecom is launching its service, Web Services Management Layer, based on Flamencos technology. It will feature security, monitoring and management capabilities via a network management system hosted by Flamenco. It will also offer a communication proxy that connects Web services applications, the network and the management system.

John Hanger, senior vice president at Flamenco, in Alpharetta, Ga., said the Flamenco Network "provides a standards shock absorber, enabling companies to get started today yet be buffered from the potentially invasive impact of future standards and evolutions of existing standards."