10 tools to manage SOA

Vendors step up to address the governance, quality and management technology triangle that ensures successful implementations

Service-oriented architecture promises many positives: resource reuse, application integration, business agility and infrastructure flexibility, among others. But never do SOA proponents claim ease of management as one of the technology's glories.

Many of today's management tools are not granular enough to work in an SOA environment, says Rich Colton, application-integration manager at engineering and construction company Washington Group International in Boise, Idaho. "That's what has been lagging. Everybody says we need to manage the infrastructure, but first I need to understand what kind of resources we're demanding out of that infrastructure," he says.

The complex nature of SOA requires more than monitoring in production networks. IT managers must apply the technology trifecta of governance, quality and management tools, industry watchers say. Read related story on SOA management

"Enterprise IT managers need to understand what part of SOA they are dealing with and what part they want to manage right now. It's not often a stand-alone product situation," says Randy Heffner, a Forrester Research analyst. "Sooner or later, if you are doing strategic SOA, you will need robust SOA management; and to get comparable functionality, you may have to get a set of products, rather than just one."

So, despite the promised benefits of a services-oriented approach, the complexity of SOA environments and applications demands management tools from inception to deployment to operations and beyond. In the face of such complexity, numerous vendors -- newcomers and veterans alike -- have taken on the challenge of SOA management. Some are tackling a specific stage in an SOA project's life cycle, while others are promising to address SOA in its entirety.

Here are 10 tools focused on addressing SOA's unique management challenges.

1. AmberPoint's SOA Management System

What does the product do? A policy-based run-time governance software suite, SOA Management System incorporates applications designed to address SOA performance in production. The suite includes a run-time repository, service network monitoring, SOA security, service-level monitoring and more.

Who's using the product? BT Group, H&R Block, Motorola and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others.

More on AmberPoint's SOA management play: "AmberPoint provides a broad integration solution for [SOA] management that can either operate as a stand-alone or integrate with other SOA and enterprise IT management infrastructures," Forrester's Heffner wrote in a 2006 report about SOA and Web services management.

Quick facts on AmberPoint: The company was founded in 2001, as Edgility Software, to address the complexities of Web services management. It adopted the new name in May 2002, after the term "amber point," which is used when an interesting DNA strand is discovered in the substance amber. The company says an amber point developed as it worked to address the challenges of managing distributed Web services.

Quick facts on AmberPoint: AmberPoint is headed by founder John Hubinger, who had been vice president of sales at Forte and a vice president in Sun's software products and platforms division. To date, the company has received US$41.4 million in venture funding.

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