iWay rides on the middleware bus

iWay Software is expanding beyond its traditional focus in the integration adapter market. Last month the New York-based integration software vendor unveiled a new product suite for enterprises looking to more easily move to a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

The new iWay SOA Middleware includes an enterprise service bus (ESB) to help manage and route Web services and features tools to design and build Web services. Also included is software for monitoring the performance of and adherence to policies for services.

In simple terms, ESB refers to a method of extracting data from legacy systems to enable information access without the need to replace IT systems. As an emerging technology, ESB uses Web services and message queuing to enable the development of flexible SOA.

The latest announcement follows up on iWay’s Adaptive SOA Framework model originally launched last year. The model pulls together several existing but disparate tools into a single design-time environment for exposing applications as Web services.

In a briefing last month, John Senor, president of iWay, told NetworkWorld Canada that the ESB direction is a “natural evolution” of the firm’s integration adapter business. With a strong background in integration adapters, iWay already had the technology necessary to deliver ESB, Senor noted. Via ESB, the middleware suite is designed to enable firms to more easily expose applications as Web services within an SOA, Senor said.

“All your different environments are loosely coupled together and what you are really doing is interoperating,” Senor said. “They cooperate with each other and that’s really the SOA view of the world.”

Jake Freivald, iWay vice-president of product marketing, said the vendor’s take on the ESB concept encompasses message transport, distributed architecture, Web Services protocols, intelligent message routing and industry standards and tools.

The software suite improves on traditional enterprise application integration, Freivald said, which tries to centralize and integrate a set of ERP applications. iWay’s SOA approach is less about integration, Freivald said, and more about interoperability. “Hopefully what we’re doing is taking what was heretofore a rat’s nest of integration and breaking off chunks of it at a time,” Freivald said.

Gerald Cohen, CEO of iWay’s parent company, Information Builders Inc. (IBI), said the move means iWay is “moving up the food chain” in the integration market from being a provider of adapters to augmenting its portfolio with all of the pieces a company needs for SOA interoperability.

He noted that users are quickly coming to rely on services to anchor integration efforts, because an SOA typically requires US$2 of consulting for each dollar spent on software — compared to $8 of consulting for every dollar spent on traditional enterprise application integration (EAI) tools.

Because iWay can combine the new SOA software with its integration adapters, it can “listen” for a wide variety of messages beyond Web services that might be transmitted within an SOA, he said.

Ken Vollmer, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said there is growing user interest in working with the most comprehensive integration infrastructure possible.

“The general trend is toward more comprehensive integration function from a single source,” he said. “What we used to think of as EAI vendors…we now refer to them as integration-centric business process management vendors.”

However, other vendors such as Tibco Software Inc., IBM, BEA Systems Inc. and WebMethods Inc. already have moved aggressively to build out their integration offerings to support SOAs, he said.

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