Messaging tools seek reliability

As part of an overall push to fortify Web services, vendors are bolstering the reliability of messaging infrastructures with new tools to allow enterprises to build applications that ensure delivery of XML documents.

Asynchronous communication is at the core of these efforts. This type of message delivery and transaction is becoming increasingly critical as businesses cannot count on constant network uptime and synchronous connectivity, experts said.

“The next passage [of adoption] is asynchronous messaging,” said Tim Hilgenberg, chief technology strategist at Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Hewitt Associates LLC. “I don’t think HTTP will satisfy that need for reliability [and transactions].”

Messaging middleware giant Tibco Software Inc. will enter the fray by mid-2002 with added support for a range of messaging standards to its core product line, including SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), JMS (Java Messaging Service), and Talarian Corp.’s SmartSockets, said Fred Meyer, Tibco’s chief marketing officer.

The messaging options will be paired with a framework for managing Web services. Tibco is also exploring the use of JMS or its own PGM (pragmatic general multicasting) protocol, used in Cisco routers, as the messaging layer beneath SOAP, rather than using HTTP, Meyer said.

Tibco joins other companies including BEA Systems, Microsoft, and IBM that are making moves to address security and reliability issues.

BEA, for example, is poised to add support for asynchronous messaging to its forthcoming application and Web services development and deployment framework, code-named Cajun, said Adam Bosworth, BEA’s vice president of engineering, in an interview with InfoWorld (see “BEA: Cajun eases development”).

Meanwhile, a host of smaller companies is at earlier stages of the secure messaging development cycle.

Progress Software spin-off Sonic Software, in Bedford, Mass., next week will make available a free download of its SonicXQ platform, designed for building reliable distributed services-based architectures. It features the capability of sending SOAP documents and JMS-based messages over HTTP and uses a JCA (Java 2 Enterprise Edition Connector Architecture)-based integration component to promote secure communication between disparate systems, said its technical evangelist Rick Kuzyk, at the InfoWorld Next-Generation Web Services conference in San Francisco last week.

San Francisco-based New Iron Systems said its Web services stack, New Iron Foundry, will be released to beta testing next month and will be generally available in March. Running on top of JMS messaging systems, the tool provides enterprises with reliable, scalable messaging for transactions, said Bryan Bilbrey, New Iron Systems’ co-founder and vice president of product marketing.

Startups such as Kenamea are also addressing transaction management and security. The company plans to release a new version of its event-driven communications architecture for transactional integrity in the next few months, said Bob Pasker, co-founder and CTO of Kenamea.

For its part, Microsoft announced last week that its long-awaited Visual Studio .Net toolset was released to manufacturing ahead of its expected Feb. 13 delivery. Microsoft is also due to release Windows .Net Server later in the year to provide what it believes will be the technologies needed to support more robust Web services.

While IBM continues to push WebSphere as its Web services touchstone, its Tivoli subsidiary is preparing to deliver new products with richer capabilities in systems management and security.

“In going beyond [the firewall] where [users] expose application functions to the world, we see the need for much more rigorous security and control and systems management,” said Don O’Toole, IBM’s director of strategic initiatives.

One expert cautioned that asynchronous messaging will involve some pain. “A lot of [this messaging] is done through SMTP, which could be a burden on routers,” said Dana Gardner, a senior analyst at Aberdeen Group in Boston. “Companies will need to upgrade their SMTP or Internet infrastructures.”