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Actional takes a stand on security policy

The Web services management and security vendor's latest release promises improved visibility into non-SOAP and XML based services.

Sometimes, you can't really solve a problem until you see it in a new way.

On Monday, Web services management and security provider Actional Corp. unveiled version 5.5 of its management platform, aiming to help organizations gain more control over Web services security policy. The new product is comprised of the Looking Glass Management Server and Console and the SOAPstation Web services broker.

In addition to providing visibility into cluster deployments and the ability to monitor long-running, asynchronous transactions, Looking Glass 5.5 also adds "ghost agents," which provide visibility into non-SOAP and XML-based applications such as Java Message Service, Remote Method Invocation or Enterprise JavaBean-based services. SOAPstation 5.5 adds new security features that include integration with RSA Security Inc.'s ClearTrust SSO Web access management software.

"Security, performance and visibility are key issues in the Web services area," said David Gehringer, vice president of product marketing at Mountain View, Calif.-based Actional. By decoupling policy from applications, an organization's security policies can be changed independently from its applications.

Nevertheless, tight integration between the two is essential, Gehringer said. "Security strategy needs to be enforced at the management layer."

On the standards front, Gehringer said SOAPstation also provides support for the WS-ReliableMessaging specification, which was recently submitted to OASIS for development by BEA Systems Inc., IBM, Microsoft and Tibco Software Inc.

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"WS-ReliableMessaging is important because it allows for a heterogeneous, vendor-agnostic approach to managing your SOA," Gehringer said. "It provides an alternative to approaches like [IBM's] MQSeries."

As organizations increasingly tackle the complexity of integrating heterogeneous systems," the ability to incorporate the latest specifications and technologies into the fold with Web services is important," said Sandra Rogers, program director of SOA and Web services research for IDC in Framingham, Mass.

"Many organizations have built hybrid systems comprised of varied technologies and protocols, and thus visibility of where Web services-specific solutions interface with other domains is critical," Rogers said.

Last October, Actional merged with security vendor Westbridge Technology Inc., combining its Looking Glass products with Westbridge's XML firewall into a combined offering known as SOA Command and Control.

This fusion of products represents a growing consolidation trend in the Web services security and management market.

Tom Ryan, president and CEO of Actional, said the merger addressed the need for tighter integration among monitoring, management and security functions.

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