10 tools to manage SOA

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

More on iTKO's SOA management play: iTKO is uniquely addressing quality testing, industry watchers say. "iTKO has a very interesting perspective on SOA quality that goes beyond testing," ZapThink's Bloomberg says.

One year ago, the company made available free for download LISA WS-Testing, no-code Web-services test authoring and execution software. At last count, the software had been downloaded by more than 5,000 users and potential customers.

Quick facts on iTKO: "The company name used to mean interactive TKO (technical knockout), but we dropped those terms," says John Michelsen, chief scientist. "And LISA was actually a code name for our technology that branding professionals said we should keep. LISA is not really an acronym now; it's known on its own, but it stands for 'live interaction for services architectures.'" CEO Shridharr Mittal, previously a vice president at i2 Technologies, a supply-chain management-software company, has garnered US$14 million in funding for iTKO, which was founded in 1999.

7. Mindreef's SOAPscope Server

What does the product do? This flagship software provides an integrated set of tools at the XML software layer for automated Web-services governance, testing diagnostics and support. SOAPscope enables task-oriented collaboration regardless of role, skill set or development environment -- which makes it possible to find quickly and address any performance problems that arise, the company says.

Who's using the product? Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Visa, among others.

More on Mindreef's SOA management play: Mindreef competes most directly with iTKO, as both address the SOA quality realm. Quality testing during and after the design phase will help IT executives guarantee SOA projects succeed and ease the management of SOA applications in production environments, industry watchers say.

"Users are telling us they really did not pay attention to SOA design-time governance at the planning stage, but as soon as they tried to ramp up production, the need was bull's-eye obvious," said Peter Kastner, an Aberdeen Group analyst, in a recent report. "Continuous testing and a ruthless focus on quality are attributes of the best-performing SOA implementations."

Quick facts on Mindreef: Since its start, in 2001, the company has established partnerships with such industry heavyweights as BEA Systems, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle. In March 2003 the company received US$4 million from Kodiak Venture Partners and company co-founders Jim Moskun and Frank Grossman. CEO Lars Borgwing has served as CEO and board member of several companies, including XOsoft (acquired by CA), during the last 20 years.

The company name is meant to convey the notion of intelligent, organic growth in SOA, says Grossman, co-founder and CTO.

8. OpTier's CoreFirst

What does the product do? The software manages transaction workloads across heterogeneous infrastructure tiers, such as Web and application servers, legacy systems and databases. In an SOA environment, the software monitors the performance of services, components and transactions.

Who's using the product? Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and TrueCredit. More on OpTier's SOA management play: Customers say the OpTier technology optimizes SOA applications in the short term and helps plan for capacity based on data collected by the CoreFirst software -- which ultimately helps their business.

"Loosely coupled applications are great when it comes to reuse, but SOA creates a different set of challenges from a management perspective. It becomes exponentially more difficult to isolate performance issues in that environment, especially in the database at the services tier," says Scott Metzger, CTO of TrueCredit in California. "If you get the right monitoring tools in place, you can use the data collected to see the definitive correlation between business performance and application performance. We've become data addicts."

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