Infravio, Actional advance Web services management

Infravio Inc. and Actional Corp. are advancing their Web services management products Monday, with Infravio focusing on a “contract-based” approach and Actional touting support of Microsoft Corp.

Infravio is announcing Infravio Ensemble 4.0, featuring its contract-based Web services strategy.

Through its approach, Infravio is promoting rules-based centralized management in which providers, consumers, and their interactions are registered, authorized, and tracked at each stage of the Web services life cycle, the company said. To enable its approach, the company has a feature called “Web Services Delivery Contracts” in Ensemble that controls Web services across the life cycle, the company said.

The Web Services Delivery Contracts feature governs relationships between providing and consuming applications, controls and manages Web services across the life cycle, boosts reuse, and increases business agility in moving to service-oriented architectures, according to Infravio.

“The whole idea is that you can (have) a contract between a provider and a consumer of the Web service, and the contract defines the delivery terms and the operational terms,” said Patrick Vallaeys, vice-president of marketing at Infravio.

Delivery terms might be what type of security needs to be applied, such as LDAP authentication, or whether data transformation is needed, Vallaeys said. Contracts fulfill a need for an enterprise to know who is using and providing Web services, he said.

After registering and authorizing Web services providers and consumers, a contract is established using the Infravio Configurator. At runtime, the Infravio Distributed Broker enforces contract terms. Operations management is then done by the Infravio Console or in conjunction with third-party systems management products.

Also featured is expanded runtime management functionality, to secure Web services and manage their availability and performance. Included is a runtime console that provides logging, monitoring, alert notifications, configurable graphics, and rules-based routing for managing failover, load-balancing, versioning, and service-level agreements.

APIs in Version 4.0 enable integration of third-party software to extend functionality for delivery services, systems management, and business monitoring.

Ensemble 4.0 features a metadata repository, Infravio Ensemble, that provides a central view of Web services and dependencies.

An analyst said Infravio is providing something different in the marketplace.

“Infravio is definitely differentiating itself with its delivery contract-based approach,” said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, in an e-mail response to questions.

“While WSDL files offer standard contracts that describe Web services, Infravio’s metadata-centred approach goes well beyond the capabilities of WSDL to describe the requirements and limitations of Web service consumers as well as providers,” Bloomberg said.

“The challenge Infravio faces is that while its contract-based approach and life cycle management capabilities are best-in-class, (its) approach to Web services management takes a somewhat different tack than many of the other vendors in this space. Customers that have a laundry list of Web services management requirements may not see the full value in Infravio’s offering,” Bloomberg said. He added, however, that it is only “a matter of time” until customers start seeing the benefits of Infravio’s approach.

Version 4.0 of Infravio currently is in controlled release and is to be generally available later this year. Pricing starts at US$75,000, including two weeks of consulting.

Actional, meanwhile, is announcing general availability of Actional for Microsoft, a Web services management product suite specifically for Microsoft environments.

The offering is intended to provide users with the ability to design, manage, and scale enterprise-class Web services on Microsoft application environments and utilize service-oriented architectures, according to Actional.

The Actional package includes SOAPstation for Microsoft, providing a Web service broker for the Microsoft .Net Framework; Looking Glass Server for Microsoft, which is a service network management and policy server with consoles; Active Agents to monitor Web service activity; and Controls for Visual Studio .Net, for building .Net Web services applications.

Actional in October announced bidirectional integration of its Looking Glass Web services monitoring system with the Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) systems management platform.