The new feature allows organizations to scan large message attachments for formatting consistency, message integrity and malicious code before forwarding them along to back-end systems.
Multi-Mode Messaging comes as companies are turning to Web services protocols to move large chunks of data between systems and applications, said Joelle Kaufman, vice president of marketing at Reactivity Inc.
"If youd told me even six months ago that wed be seeing 1GB XML messages, Id have said No way, but were seeing them," she said.
The new feature gives Reactivitys XML gateways flexibility in handling XML messages, depending on factors like message size, security and transaction speed.
Customers can choose a "store and forward" option that spools XML messages to a disk on the Reactivity gateway appliance. Once the message is saved to disk, it is decrypted, inspected and then passed to back-end services, Kaufman said.
The store and forward option allows companies to do in-depth inspections of SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) message attachments or batch XML messages, verifying the integrity of the XML schema and user authentication and checking for malicious threats such as SQL injection attacks, among other things, she said.
Alternatively, companies can stream XML messages to memory, where more cursory checks of the SOAP message header are performed before the message and attachment are passed along to back-end systems, she said.
Message checks take milliseconds to complete, though it may be "multiple milliseconds" as customers add more kinds of checks for each message, she said.
Thomson Prometric, a computer-based testing company, uses Reactivitys gateway to secure external business-to-business XML interfaces to its back-end business services, according to Christopher Crowhurst, vice president and principal architect.
The company uses Web services built on Microsoft .NET and BEA Systems Inc.s Web Logic to provide registration, scheduling and other services for testing and professional accreditation customers like Educational Testing Services, Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc.
Thomson is using the Multi-Mode Messaging feature to do schema validation, content inspection and digital certificate verification on large attachments such as test results that get passed between Thomson and its customers, Crowhurst said.
The feature takes pressure off back-end legacy systems, which are more likely to become bogged down by spurious requests, interrupted transfers or improperly formatted XML messages, he said.
Thomson began the shift to Web services in 2003 and now supports six business services and around 15 Web services applications, including products from Siebel Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft, as well as custom scheduling and registration systems, he said.
Thomson hopes to have between 25 and 30 percent of its business going through Web portals. Technology like Reactivitys XML gateway will enable the company to automate distribution of content like video and multimedia training materials securely over the Web. That will reduce the companys reliance on older protocols such as FTP and manual processes to circulate rich media, Crowhurst said.
Multi-Mode Messaging on Reactivitys Gateway appliance is available immediately. A Reactivity Gateway costs $65,000 for a 1.75-inch dual-processor unit, Kaufman said.