AmberPoint, expanding its footprint in the Web services and SOA management arena, unveiled a SOA Validation System to test and validate services against a complete set of dependent applications. The SOA Validation System uses message traffic collected from the runtime use of SOA applications to test a service for functionality, performance and the impact of policy or capacity changes.
"A service can be part of many different applications, and it's hard to replicate the entire set of applications in a testing/staging area, especially if your application uses external services," said Ed Horst, vice president of marketing at AmberPoint Inc., Oakland, Calif. "Customers say they test maybe one of those applications and leave the others in a 'hopeful' position. And when it comes to policy changes, they have no idea how to gauge what's going to happen. Since we [the AmberPoint management product] observe in real time the peaks and valleys of usage, you can replay that to do capacity planning."
The SOA Validation System will enable organizations to check for functionality and performance before deployment, as well as do "dry runs" to aid in what-if planning for policy or capacity changes, according to the company. The product will also simulate external services using valid responses captured from the runtime environment.
"With a third-party service, you can't get a copy of the system to install in a testing environment," Horst said. The SOA Validation System "intercepts the request and uses a copy of the traffic to mimic its behavior, so the request/response is captured and reused from a replay standpoint."
Horst said the SOA Validation System is intended to complement traditional testing approaches. "You need both a synthetic generated traffic aspect of testing and the actual use aspect combined; neither has a full view into what's going on."
"There's definitely value in doing many forms of testing, including testing based on live data," said Anne Thomas Manes, president and research director at Burton Group, Midvale, Utah. "Most testing focuses on prior to deployment."
Manes said runtime data can be collected from any of the SOA management technologies, "but as far as I know AmberPoint is the only one to provide a turnkey approach [with the SOA Validation System]. AmberPoint generally leads the pack when it comes to applications for management."
For AmberPoint, expanding from the management arena toward testing is "a natural progression of the kind of data we collect in runtime. It moves us one notch down further in the stack." But, he stressed, AmberPoint isn't moving too far away from its core competence. "We're about the runtime governance space of SOA; others are focused on the development [side] of SOA. And this is area where we're both involved—final development, early deployment."
The SOA Validation System will expand AmberPoint's reach, Horst said. "It will give us reason to talk to other individuals in companies -- the QA and staging guys. It expands our reach to an earlier stage in the life cycle of applications."
Mark Smiley, SOA architect at L-3 Communications Titan Group, Reston,Va., has been using AmberPoint's management product since the first of the year, deploying it in three client projects. Titan Group provides information and communications products and services for the U.S. Department of Defense, intelligence agencies, and other government customers.
"With Web services, you usually build something with the client in mind, but other people can write clients and hit that Web service that you never thought about," Smiley said. "And different people may be planning to use it in different ways. Testing for those different ways of use is difficult. We know what our API is so we can have tests that exercise our API, but different clients may generate different kinds of messages. One partner might be using .NET, others Java. It's good to capture that exact message and play it back."
Up until this point, Smiley said his group has written its own testing tools to simulate multiple users of a Web service. "One thing I'm planning to use it for is to do load testing on a Web service. Another thing, if we find a bug it will be easier to replicate the message that created that bug, which makes it easier to automate the testing process."
Pricing for the AmberPoint SOA Validation System starts at $35,000 per server, and availability is expected in the fourth quarter.