WebMethods Acquires Infravio for SOA Boost

The $38 million deal beefs up WebMethods' SOA capabilities with a services registry and governance functionality.

WebMethods, which develops process integration software, announced Sept. 11 its intentions to acquire Infravio, a company best known for its service-oriented architecture governance repository and its tireless work with SOA standards-setting groups.

WebMethods will pay about $38 million for Infravio in a deal that is expected to close by months end. The company employs 65 people, including 50 developers in Chennai, India. All of the employees, including founder Srinivas Balasubramanian, will be moving over to WebMethods.

The acquisition of Infravio further builds out WebMethods capabilities in the SOA world by adding a services registry and governance functionality—key capabilities as more companies move toward a services-based approach to building composite applications based on specific business processes. While a lot of software developers have evolved to the point of providing services—components of their software available for integration with other services—there is still a growing need for the ability to register and govern the growing mass of services.

"As more groups across the enterprise adopt SOA, the need for governance becomes more acute," Miko Matsumura, vice president of marketing at Infravio, told eWEEK. "This jump-starts our efforts to address this market demand as well as advances customers ability to create a governed enterprisewide portfolio of capabilities that can be recombined into business services."

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink, in Waltham, Mass., said WebMethods has "seen the SOA writing on the wall for a while now. As a proprietary EAI [enterprise application integration] vendor, they really have little choice but to tell the SOA story, and in fact, theyve been doing a reasonably good job telling that story, given that what theyre really selling is an integration infrastructure."

However, by acquiring Infravio, WebMethods is bringing in a clear thought leader in the SOA space, Bloomberg said.

"Infravio is at the eye of the SOA storm, focused on registry/repository, SOA governance, and service life-cycle management," Bloomberg said. "The issue now is one of execution: Can Infravios leadership raise WebMethods SOA efforts to a leadership position, or will WebMethods EAI ball and chain swamp Infravios vision? Only time will tell."

WebMethods, of Fairfax, Va., has slowly been transitioning from its roots as an enterprise application integration company to a services integration company based on SOA standards. In October 2003, WebMethods acquired three companies that formed the basis of its SOA strategy: Business Activity Monitoring software developer Dante Group; Web services infrastructure software maker The Mind Electric; and portal builder DataChannel.

The Mind Electric turned out to be a particularly key acquisition: The companys founder and chief architect, Graham Glass, became the chief technology officer of WebMethods, and its GLUE software provided WebMethods with the basis for its Fabric platform for building and deploying distributed applications from any Java object. Glass has since left WebMethods to form a community education program called EDU 2.0.

After integrating the three companies, WebMethods announced Fabric in 2004. It has since built on its capabilities both organically and through acquisition. In August the company bought Cerebra, a privately held company that develops semantic metadata management technology. That companys software is being embedded into the Fabric platform.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about WebMethods Access, a new component of Fabric.

Infravio is, in a sense, the front end of WebMethods SOA-building software since SOA governance enforces the policies and procedures that determine how developers, IT staff and business users actually utilize services through an SOA life cycle (defined as design and run-time to ongoing changes in the system).

Infravios software will be integrated into the Fabric platform by the fourth quarter.

"With the acquisition of Infravio, combined with our recent acquisition of Cerebra, we are demonstrating our commitment to doing SOA the right way—a way that actually addresses real market needs and challenges," said David Mitchell, president and CEO of WebMethods, in a statement.

WebMethods acquisition of Infravio represents a continuation of the consolidation in the SOA space. Earlier this year, Mercury Interactive acquired Systinet, another SOA registry and governance provider, after which Mercury itself was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Also, Progress Software acquired Actional, a Web services management software provider. Other SOA consolidation moves include SOA Software acquiring Blue Titan, IBM acquiring Webify Solutions, and BEA Systems acquiring Flashline.

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