AmberPoint System Sizes Up SOA Applications

AmberPoint's SOA Validation System can augment existing quality assurance testing tools by adding in samples of actual use of an SOA service.

As services used by service-oriented architecture applications are updated and changed to comply with new policies, theres been no way to accurately test those updates during predeployment testing against real services messages to ensure they function properly in a production environment. But Web services management provider AmberPoint Inc. plans to change that with its SOA Validation System.

The new system, which addresses a big source of frustration for larger and more complex SOA environments, can augment existing quality assurance testing tools by adding in samples of actual use of an SOA service.

Because its not practical to replicate all the applications that use a Web service, users typically test one of the applications in a staging environment and hope the rest work, officials at the Oakland, Calif., company said.

AmberPoints system is unique in that it captures actual requests and responses in run-time, which can be replayed in development, QA testing or staging. When changes are made to a service, the system can evaluate responses for functional correctness, compare validated performance versus original performance, replay messages to verify policy changes wont break dependent applications and can be used for capacity planning.

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SOA Validation System can also be used to pinpoint hard-to-reproduce problems with Web services to speed problem resolution in production, according to Mark Smiley, SOA architect at L-3 Communications Titan Corp., a systems integrator in Reston, Va. "If you were to find an issue with a sequence for SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol] messages, you could reproduce the problem. Its critical that you be able to test your Web service like this," Smiley said.

Smiley, who plans to beta test the system, currently uses an internally developed client to simulate users accessing a Web service.

That ability to collect useful information for the staging environment to make sure things continue to work after users make a policy or coding change is unique in the market, according to Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst at Burton Group, in Cambridge, Mass. "The significant difference is that the AmberPoint system is actually doing policy-based validation of traffic at run-time. I dont know of anyone else whos done that," Manes said.

The system, due in December, starts at $35,000.

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