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IBM Global Services expands SOA Management Practice

IBM picks Actional and DataPower Technology as new partners in the "ecosystem," and adds capabilities around governance and consumption of Web services.

IBM Global Services is bringing two new partners into the fold of its SOA Management Practice -- Actional and DataPower Technology -- along with some additional capabilities around governance and consumption of Web services, as it continues construction of an ecosystem to address the SOA landscape.

"The IBM software group has a partner program enabled on WebSphere; we're looking at a small select subset of that to support and build capabilities around," said Michael Liebow, vice president of SOA and Web services, IBM Global Services. "This is an ecosystem. In the age of SOA, you're dealing with a level of componentization and specialization. We want to integrate the best components that make sense. We will be selective about who we take forward relative to the investment of our time and resources. These are relatively young vendors filling a space in the market, and are complementary to IBM software."

Actional Corp., Mountain View, Calif., a provider of SOA management products, and DataPower Technology Inc., Cambridge, Mass., a provider of application-oriented network devices, join existing IBM partners SOA Software and AmberPoint.

We understand the need to make management not such an afterthought in an SOA implementation
Michael Liebow
Vice President of SOA and Web services IBM Global Services

While Liebow said there is some overlap in what these partners offer in the SOA management space, as well as with IBM's Tivoli products, there are nuances. "From a practice standpoint, we've picked a few vendors that are differentiated and do provide value. To some degree they compete, but there are some differences. We don't think two vendors can cover the landscape; this is a quickly evolving market."

According to David Gehringer, vice president of product marketing at Actional, "What IBM found intriguing about our software is we're extremely focused on runtime and enterprise-class deployments. In addition, he said, Actional "provides management capability outside of pure SOA. A lot of [IBM's] customers have big mainframe legacy applications; they have RMI [remote method invocation] and JDBC [Java Database Connectivity] protocols. Our management capability allows us to provide value outside of XML and the SOAP stack."

Eugene Kuznetsov, DataPower founder, chairman and chief technology officer, also stressed that a service-oriented architecture is not just about Web services. "We're doing connections to legacy systems with our integration product. SOA is not just for Web services; it also has to do with processing other types of messaging. There is a lot of interest in bringing the architecture part of SOA and applying it to legacy systems. IBM has the largest legacy installed based."

As part of the partnership agreement, IGS will be reselling Actional and DataPower products, and in DataPower's case, providing support -- a boon for a young company, Kuznetsov acknowledged. Kuznetsov said IGS has been providing on-site support of its products for some time, but is just now making it publicly known. "When customers buy our products they can use the existing IGS support organization -- that's huge." He said it gives potential customers more assurance when they're "putting billions of dollars worth of transactions through [a DataPower] device."

Liebow said the IGS SOA Management Practice will continue to build out its ecosystem, and is "looking at some vendors in terms of security and repository that would complement these [partners]."

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In addition to the new partners, the expanded SOA Management Practice will complement the recently announced IBM Global Services SOA Governance capability. The practice will focus on issues such as, "How do you build a service model for SOA? How do you put in executive oversight? These are all capabilities required to fully execute on the management aspect," Liebow said. "It's a combination of process, technology and people that creates the services model. You have to have an alignment between business and IT. These are serious considerations required before implementation."

The SOA Management Practice is also adding a focus on the consumption of Web services. SOA management assets, a combination of software code, best practices and intellectual property, will be delivered through the Common Services Delivery Platform, which is based on the WebSphere-based SOA Foundation.

Liebow said in the year or so since the launch of the SOA Management Practice, there have been some lessons learned: "We understand the need to make management not such an afterthought in an SOA implementation. We're advocating to clients to think in advance of deployment. [They also need to] think about the governance aspect, not just the management piece. People can think too fine-grained about management. We have to think holistically about what and how we're managing."

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