Need for SOA governance spurs another buy as BEA acquires Flashline

What's a must-have for any SOA vendor? It's the repository.

BEA Systems today snatched up SOA governance provider Flashline in a move that in one part expands BEA's SOA capabilities but in another smacks of a quick reaction to HP's buy of Mercury/Systinet.

BEA uses the Systinet UDDI registry within its AquaLogic-branded registry. But BEA must have seen the writing on the wall when Systinet, as part of Mercury Interactive, recently when to HP. How long will HP be interested in supplying BEA with its registry? Well, the two have some strong co-selling relations, sure, but SOA governance is too strategic for a piecemeal part of a "coopetition" relationship.

What's more important, however, is the increasing recognition that a SOA/UDDI registry and a SOA metadata repository are not the same -- and perhaps there's some advantage to having them tightly aligned for SOA policy management benefit. But even without alignment, which is more important -- and a must-have for any SOA vendor? It's the repository.

Miko Matsumura, vice president of technology standards at SOA governance provider Infravio, points out that: "[enterprises] require policy federation capabilities to ensure smooth alignment and integration. [The BEA-Flashline] acquisition will require significant integration just to address service lifecycle, and doesn't begin to address policy lifecycle ... Infravio's product provides fully integrated registry repository with both service lifecycle and policy lifecycle governance."

Makes you wonder, then, why BEA didn't buy Infravio? Or why HP, for that matter, didn't sidestep Mercury for Infravio.

More strategically, one has to wonder whether BEA will, with the Flashline acquisition, be moving toward a new SOA-policy level strategy by focusing on the repository as the longer-term value-add, while watching the registry meander closer toward commodity status. And wasn't there some talk of an open source UDDI registry anyway?

BEA's acquisition was quick work after the HP-Mercury move, and shows the continuing importance of SOA management as a larger end-goal benefit -- of managing business processes, via policy, that goes to the heart of both business and IT transformation. Buying a repository rather than building one show's how highly important BEA sees this capability. We should expect a tight relationship between BEA's runtimes and this repository.

Fellow ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick has more details on BEA's position on the repository. 

BEA clearly has its sights on the grande enchilada for the Next Big Thing in enterprise IT: managing broad business processes and transactions, despite their huge complexity and dynamism, with a straightforward and simplified approach that leverages a likely proprietary repository with tight integration to BPM tools and runtime. Pulling such off will be an offer too hard to refuse for a lot of enterprises.

You gotta know what to leave to open and commodity and what to invest in as proprietary and high-value-add. BEA, and me too, thinks that means letting the registry go to open and commodity, and looking to the the SOA metadata repository as a crown jewel in any SOA lifecycle ecology.

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