Microsoft, AmberPoint link on Web services development

Microsoft Corp. and AmberPoint Inc. are hooking up to boost Web services development in the upcoming Visual Studio 2005 tool box.

AmberPoint Express, which is a developer version of the AmberPoint Web services management system, will be bundled with Visual Studio 2005 Team System, the companies are announcing on Monday.

Express will be distributed with beta and commercial releases of Team System, beginning with the beta bundle available now. Team System is due to ship in general release in the first half of 2005.

The Express version of AmberPoint’s management platform provides insight into performance of Web services to assist developers in readying applications, according to AmberPoint and Microsoft. Additionally, the Microsoft-distributed version of Express also supports Microsoft’s Cassini Web server for testing of applications.

Microsoft, in partnering with AmberPoint, is promoting its tools for use in developing SOAs (service-oriented architectures) based on Web services. “We recognize that SOAs are becoming more important in the way people build applications today and, in order to build SOAs successfully, we need to be able to manage them as well,” said Prashant Sridharan, senior product manager for Visual Studio.

“(The arrangement) basically provides Web services management for all the Visual Studio users effectively for free if you’re using Visual Studio 2005,” said Ed Horst, vice-president of marketing at AmberPoint.

Integration with Visual Studio provides for point-and-click management, auto-discovery of Web services, and live performance charts for Web services and operations, AmberPoint and Microsoft said. Additional features include drill-downs into problem invocations and faults for diagnosis, views of messages in human-readable or XML formats, and auto-generated or logged messages for testing.

Analysts noted the packaging will extend AmberPoint’s reach.

“This will have big impact for AmberPoint for sure, since this will give them significant access to a wide range of developers who are trying to implement Web services in a secure, managed way,” said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC.

“For .Net, this helps to address a weakness (the platform currently has) around managed services,” Schmelzer said.

AmberPoint and Microsoft previously have announced the integration of AmberPoint’s Web services management platform with the Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 platform. While there has been speculation that smaller Web services management software companies could be acquisition targets by larger software companies, the latest arrangement between Microsoft and AmberPoint does not set the table for any acquisition, Horst stressed.

“There’s no equity investment,” by Microsoft in AmberPoint, he said.

“That’s not the reason we did this arrangement,” Horst added. He would not divulge any financial benefits AmberPoint may derive from the linking of AmberPoint Express and Visual Studio 2005.

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