Infravio Brings Web Services to Sabre

Sabre is banking on Web services and Infravio technology for its travel portal.

Travel services company Sabre Holdings Corp. is delivering a large-scale Web services deployment project with the help of Web services management software from Infravio Inc.

Officials at Sabre, of Southlake, Texas, said they are using Infravios new Ensemble 4 Web services management suite as the cornerstone of a new Sabre Web Services portal and an overall SOA (service-oriented architecture) model the company is implementing.

"They [Sabre] are trying to focus more on Internet use of their system as opposed to having people access it through a VPN," said Jim Bole, vice president of professional services at Infravio. "They want to give users a way to come into the system, register for services ... do all sorts of stuff."

Sabre officials said they selected Infravio over several other players in the Web services development and management space because of Infravios unique approach to implementing delivery contracts, which manage the relationship between providing and consuming applications.

Sabres move to Web services

  • Will provide solutions, reservations and ticketing for more than 200 airlines
  • Will feed data to travel Web sites and handle about 40 percent of worldwide reservations
  • Will help Sabre manage travel for more than half of Fortune 200 companies

In addition to managing Web services, Infravio, based in Cupertino, Calif., facilitates software reuse and the transition to an SOA model. Sabre said building an SOA is key to its ongoing success with Web services. Sabre built its base Web services system itself using open-source technology and Java, then brought in Infravio because of the contracts support and the level of control Infravios tools allow, said Kim Farrow, director of Sabre Labs.

So far, Sabre has completed a repository for its system and is building out its customer-facing portal, Farrow said. Sabre officials said most of the work will be done by midyear.

One analyst said that when complete, the Sabre system will represent a key Web services deployment success.

"Sabre does a ton of transactions per day, and if they even load a small percentage of that on Web services and use Infravio to manage the mix, that will bode well for the spread of SOAs in the enterprise," said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Waltham, Mass., market research company.

Farrow said Sabre bought into the power of Web services early on.

"We started watching the Web services space in 2001, and we did some prototypes and started participating in standards bodies," said Farrow. By the end of last year, "we started with Sabre Web Services and decided to build it ourselves. We started to work on our new system in July of 2003, and since we started to grow, we knew we needed a way to manage our Web services."

Andrew Teel, director of enterprise architecture and Web services at Sabre, said the company made the decision early on to implement some sort of Web services management solution into the mix. "But we wanted a product that could easily plug in with the future we had in mind," Teel said.

Farrow said Infravios flexibility and focus on the repository and its Web Services Delivery Contracts technology set the company apart.

"Infravio has been an early pioneer in the space of Web services management," ZapThinks Schmelzer said. "Their claim to fame is their delivery-contract-focused approach to managing services. Basically, they see their role as helping establish the loose coupling value of SOAs by providing a way to manage service interfaces through contracts that define the criteria by which service requesters can bind to service providers. Infravio straddles the line between Web services management and service-oriented integration and thus plays a role in each."

"Infravios greatest obstacle is that their management story is different from the other players ... like AmberPoint [Inc.], Actional [Corp.] and Confluent [Software Inc.]," said Jason Bloomberg, another analyst with ZapThink. "So, they have a challenge explaining their value proposition to companies who have sent RFPs [requests for proposals] to all the management vendors. However, they have a great story and a solid product, so customers are starting to listen."