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Reactivity multi-mode addresses security, performance

New multi-mode processing from Reactivity tackles large XML payloads, along with the security threats and performance bottlenecks that accompany them.

XML infrastructure company Reactivity Inc. this week added new enhancements to its Gateway series of products, allowing applications to handle larger XML payloads.

According to the Belmont, Calif.-based company, multi-mode processing addresses the performance and security requirements commonly needed to handle larger XML messages and allows administrators to wield better control of processing requirements.

"We're starting to see the use of extremely large messages," said Joelle Kaufman, vice president of marketing at Reactivity. "[However,] networks can have hiccups. If you don't store and forward some of these large messages, you may lose them."

In store-and-forward mode, which is typically used to process larger XML payloads such as SOAP messages with attachments, the entire message is written to disk. At processing time it is moved into memory, where policies are applied, before the message is finally sent to the back-end service.

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For applications that typically have to deal with smaller message sizes, multi-mode processing supports in-memory, or streaming message processing, where the message is processed one byte at a time before being sent to the back end.

According to Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, of Waltham, Mass., handling a small number of large messages is very different from handling a large number of small messages, and Reactivity's multi-mode feature, which can operate on either a per-service or per-message basis, addresses this disparity.

"Their system can now respond to different security and processing requirements on a message-by-message basis, rather than on a whole-box configuration basis, which is sure to make network administrators much happier," Schmelzer said.

In March, Reactivity unveiled version 4.2 of its XML operating system (XOS) software, adding new security and performance enhancements. Using policy pipelining technology, XOS 4.2 speeds up SAML validation by eliminating redundant operations during similar Web services transactions.

"There are a lot of repetitive tasks in security policy enforcement, and doing them simultaneously, rather than sequentially, will help improve performance quite a bit," Schmelzer said.

Performance and security are two areas where Web services have typically been weak. At the recent Gartner Application Integration and Web Services Summit, research vice president Ray Wagner recommended that organizations address these inherent weaknesses by using XML appliances to take security- and performance-related concerns out of their applications and move them into a separate, specialized layer.

"Security and performance are really multi-faceted problems that must be solved in a more cohesive way," Schmelzer said. "Reactivity has realized this and put together a product that can handle a large degree of variability in the way that Web Services are deployed in the organization."

Other vendors in the security and performance appliance space include Datapower Technology Inc., Forum Systems Inc., Layer 7 Technologies Inc., Sarvega Inc. and SOA Software Inc.

Analysts expect further consolidation in this space as Cisco prepares to enter the market this year. The networking giant is working on project Aeon, which will yield accelerators, security and integration appliances for XML applications.

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