The great SOA vendor divide: business vs. tech

Some vendors in the SOA space are all about business; others are about technology.

SOA has two faces. One is the IT-centric, technical aspects -- such as service-level management, performance monitoring, and security. The other face of SOA is all about the business, which includes application integration and business-level monitoring. This distinction has been identified by Forrester Research's Randy Heffner who separated out the two classes of leading SOA tool vendors that address these two levels of SOA management:

Pure SOA management and security:

• Infravio
• Itellix
• SOA Software
• HP
• CA

Business-level SOA management:

• Actional (Sonic Software)
• AmberPoint
• IBM
• Oracle
• TIBCO
• webMethods

Forrester used specific criteria to assemble this list, of course. But notably absent are BEA Systems and Microsoft, which suggests that some vendors may play well in the SOA development cycle, but may not yet have optimized environments for the more operational aspects of SOA. Also missing from the list are pure-play SOA operational management vendors such as Systinet, PolarLake, and Cape Clear. (In the case of the latter two, Forrester also publishes separate ESB ratings.)

In this latest report, Heffner observes that "traditional enterprise IT management infrastructure products provide insight into the operation of the application server platforms (Java Enterprise Edition, .NET, CICS, IMS, etc.) and other infrastructure (databases, integration servers, operating systems, etc.) where the business logic implementations of your services run, but they are limited in their ability to provide insight into the operations at the service-interface level. SOA management solutions provide this new layer of management, and some combine management at both the service interface level and the infrastructure level."