Progress on the SOA front

Another vendor plucked from the SOA tree

Another vendor has been plucked from the SOA tree by a larger, mainstream IT vendor.

Progress Software Corporation just announced that it is acquiring privately-held Actional Corporation for a cool  $32 million. Actional, a provider of Web services management (WSM) software, will become part of Sonic Software and an operating unit of Progress Software Corporation.

What gives here?  It seems the time is ripe for SOA, as the stream of smaller tool vendors that sprung up around Web services are ready to graduate into the big time. And that means joining the mainstream of business. Just last week,  of course, Mercury Interactive acquired SOA registry provider Systinet, and in October, IBM bought XML appliance vendor Datapower. Not to mention acquisitions closely related to SOA and Web services, such as BEA's purchase of Plumtree.

Of course, it's all part of the master plan -- software companies are often built with the intention of eventually selling them off to a larger concern. It's interesting, however, to see the diversity of the acquisitions we're seeing here. To put it very simply, one vendor was acquired by an infrastructure company, another by a testing tools vendor, and now, another by a database management company. No matter what the discipline or focus, all vendors look at SOA as the path to the future. Lots of people are building SOA portfolios coming from different directions.

Progress, which offers a range of data management products, appears to be moving into the SOA governance space in a big way, and has assembled organizations offering an enterprise service bus (through Sonic), legacy system connectivity (through its recent NEON Systems acquisition, announced last month) and now, through Actional, Web services management.

However, some analysts wonder what some of these mainstream vendors may be getting themselves into.  RedMonk's James Governor, for one, observed that by acquiring Systinet, Mercury "is moving into a new, as yet poorly defined space in this case: Service Oriented Architecture. The acquisition is definitely not business as usual." Governor added, however, that this is part of an  "increasing convergence between business service and IT service management."

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