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BEA buys Flashline repository for AquaLogic SOA suite

SOA governance lies at the heart of BEA Systems' acquisition of metadata repository vendor Flashline, which will be re-branded as the BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Repository.

BEA Systems Inc. today announced it has purchased metadata repository vendor Flashline Inc. with the intention of adding it to BEA's AquaLogic family of SOA-enablement tools.

SOA is not an island.
Charles Stack
President and CEOFlashline Inc.

The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but BEA intends to brand the Flashline product as the BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Repository, providing a central service-oriented architecture governance point for the rest of the AquaLogic product line, including its enterprise service bus (ESB), data services platform (DSP) and business process management suite.

Governance has become a hot topic in SOA circles during the current calendar year as users have discovered they need to apply a greater degree of control over the Web services they build. Paul Patrick, vice president and chief architect for AquaLogic, said the Flashline repository will house the data and enforcement policies key to SOA governance.

"Other pieces inside the AquaLogic platform, like ESB and DSP, are good for governance enforcement, but not governance management," he said.

Prior to the acquisition, BEA already sold the AquaLogic Service Registry, a re-branded version of the Systinet Corp. registry. Systinet was purchased by Mercury Interactive Corp. earlier this year and then Mercury was acquired by Hewlett Packard Co. in July. BEA executive vice president and chief technology officer Rob Levy said the company intends to sell both the re-branded service registry and new enterprise repository as parallel, complementary products.

Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director for Burton Group Inc. said Flashline "nicely complements BEA's AquaLogic line of products" and added that repositories will play a key role in governance.

Charles Stack, president and CEO of Flashline, said SOA governance needs to be far reaching, touching all points of a company's technical infrastructure. "SOA is not an island," he said.

Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, noted the Systinet product BEA has been using tracks service metadata, but "now Flashline addresses part of the overall metadata management problem by tracking, governing and managing liquid assets in a common repository. This is not specifically service-oriented, but rather across projects people build and deploy with BEA technology."

While Flashline integrates with any UDDI-compliant registry, Schmelzer noted that BEA might want to upgrade from being a reseller on the registry side in the future.

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"While there are positives in this announcement with BEA filling obvious gaps in their portfolio, the acquisition still leaves open gaps they will have to address in future additions to their solution line with regards to the SOA part of the metadata management picture," he said.

IBM has chosen to build its own registry/repository as part of its overall SOA governance strategy. The Systinet registry will be at the center of HP's SOA governance play. It leaves specialty registry/repository vendors like Infravio Inc. and LogicLibrary Inc. as free agents as larger vendors stake out their SOA governance strategies.

"First and foremost it means that the SOA Stack vendors are waking up the the need for Governance capabilities as a fundamental way to differentiate their offerings," said Miko Matsumura, vice president for technology standards at Infravio.

Stack said all Flashline employees would be transferring over to BEA and Levy added that more information on the roadmap for the Flashline repository and the rest of the AquaLogic platform should be made public during the BEAWorld conference in September.

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