The InfoWorld test center has been playing with a new class of middleware designed to manage and monitor Web services. Known as Web services intermediaries (WSIs), these vendor solutions incorporate a host of features into their platforms includingmessage routing, security, exception handling, abstraction, message transformation, and logging.
"Each of these products differs significantly in their approach to intermediating Web services, but a cursory review of their feature sets doesn't readily reveal that difference," writes
Phillip J. Windley. "The significant contrast is in the metaphors they use for management and the presentation of information; each WSI emphasizes different aspects of the intermediary game. Grand Central 4.0 is a hosted service, whereas Actional's approach zeroes in on service monitoring; Infravio uses contracts to define relationships; and AmberPoint SLM manages performance with service-level objectives."
While InfoWorld acknowledges that a decision on which tool to use will depend on an assessment of relative product strengths, a matching of the WSI's "management metaphor" to the organization's operating approach, and a careful look at reporting and user interface needs, itendorses all four.
"If you get those things right, any one of these products will provide you with a proven, stable management platform for building reliable Web services applications," it states. "They are polished, ready to work, and do what they advertise."
Interestingly, the test center gives a very slight edge in terms of overall performance to Grand Central. It is a hosted service that actively leverages the BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) approach. "BSN 4.0's BPEL engine allows developers to create, combine, customize, and reuse dynamic business processes," it adds. "So far, Grand Central stands alone in its use of BPEL for complex Web services interactions that mirror business processes."
The four WSI products "have very different personalities and thus different deployment strengths," the piece states.
- Infravio Ensemble "excels at managing relationships with external partners, so if you have a large network that shares services often, it's a good option."
- Grand Central's BSN 4.0 "provides a low-hassle way to get going and is a clear choice for automating business processes and translating between multiple data and transport formats."
- Actional Looking Glass and AmberPoint SLM are "the most like other management products that IT operations groups have used previously, so they're good choices for mature IT shops."
"WSI selection depends on your organization's Web services architecture and reporting needs," the testlab concludes. "But no matter which of these four you choose, each provides all of the essential Web services management features that you'd expect from a Web services intermediary."