IT managers seek tools to ease Web services

The spread of Web services has forced IT managers to seek out new tools to ease the cumbersome process of managing policies like security and performance.

“There are some policies that we think are best practices that we want to adhere to,” said Chris Brown, senior IT architect at Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia Corp. “To date, adherence has been done manually, by review, [and] has been haphazard. We want to automate that.”

A pair of vendors this week will be unveiling tools that promise to automate the process of managing Web services.

AmberPoint Inc. is releasing AmberPoint 5.0, a new version of its runtime services governance tools. And Mindreef Inc. is rolling out new services life-cycle management tools.

Security functions

The MedicAlert Foundation plans to install the new AmberPoint tools over the next few months to better manage the various security credentials — user IDs and passwords or digital certificates — that its customers use to enter new health information into their MedicAlert records, according to SOA architect Jorge Mercado.

“[The new version] allows you to support any different number of security tokens,” he said. “Your lowest level of Web service only has to understand one type of security token.”

The Turlock, Calif.-based nonprofit health care informatics organization is now using Version 4.3 of AmberPoint’s Web services management tools to monitor the performance of Web services that process data changes customers make over the Internet, Mercado said.

MedicAlert lets customers update via the Internet the health histories contained on MedicAlert USB devices that attach to key chains. As users update their information, internal Web services spread the data to multiple systems, including order processing, billing and a medical information repository, Mercado added.

AmberPoint’s updated tool includes policy management enhancements that allow companies to address issues such as security for large groups of services instead of one service at a time, said Ed Horst, vice president of marketing at the Oakland, Calif.-based vendor.

Mindreef plans to unveil a server-based product called Mindreef Coral that’s designed to act as a hub housing Web service data. The hub allows development team members to cooperatively govern, test and support Web services, said Frank Grossman, president and founder of the Hollis, N.H.-based company.

Brown, a beta user of Coral, said the new tool will allow Wachovia to centralize policy conformance when building and testing Web services.

The emerging Web services governance and management tools can be used to help companies manage Web services as they are exposed to broader groups of users throughout the enterprise, said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink LLC in Waltham, Mass.

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