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SOA repositories seen maturing after acquisitions

As HP's $4.5 billion purchase of Mercury Interactive finalizes today, analysts see a new landscape for SOA repositories with growing maturity, but still missing key standards, like WS-Policy.

With the announcement today that Hewlett-Packard Corp.'s $4.5 billion purchase of Mercury Interactive is now final, a new chapter is opening as the SOA repository market moves to a new level of maturity, analysts say. However, standards for interoperability are the missing link and it may be two years before they are ready.

Vendors have been creating proprietary interfaces through partnerships.
Larry Fulton
Senior AnalystForrester Research, Inc.

HP has now acquired not only Mercury's test and management software, but also the Systinet SOA repository that Mercury acquired when it bought Systinet. This gives HP "product coverage across a broad spectrum of IT management disciplines," according to Larry Fulton, senior analyst, Forrester Research, Inc.

Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC, also is impressed by the potential combination of HP and Mercury/Systinet technologies to grow into a mature SOA product offering.

"This deal brings together two clear leaders in the SOA space," Bloomberg said. "As of today, HP is now the proud owner of Systinet 2, which is now more than a registry or even a repository, but really more of a full-lifecycle SOA governance platform. After all, SOA is all about business technology optimization and the combination of the OpenView product line with Mercury BTO heralds a new era of full-lifecycle IT management for organizations as they progress down their SOA roadmaps."

However, HP is not alone among the larger vendors who have strengthened SOA repository offerings following this year's wave of acquisitions, according to SOA Repositories Come Of Age, a Forrester Research report written by Fulton.

The report notes that now both HP and IBM provide "a complete set of IT management and governance capabilities." HP now has the full range of the Mercury/Systinet technology and IBM has melded its WebSphere offerings with its Tivoli management products and the Web services appliance technology, including policy enforcement it acquired with DataPower.

"Both companies have extensive service offerings in the SOA space, as well," Fulton notes in his report.

Now that the dust is settling on the most recent of the acquisitions, including SOA vendor webMethods, Inc. buying governance vendor Infravio, Inc., in September, several things of consequence have happened, according to the analyst. The SOA repository market has somewhat solidified with larger vendors, including IBM and HP having bought the technology they needed to fill out their offerings, which are now maturing. However, the missing link remains standards, which Fulton estimates are two years away from truly helping with interoperability.

The need for interoperability is at the very heart of the SOA approach, but also stems from a long-standing problem IT organizations face, namely the heterogeneous environment in the data center where products from multiple vendor are in use. Fulton said in SOA implementations it is unlikely most IT shops will have the luxury of using products from only one vendor.

Of the current repositories on the market, Fulton said: "The products talk to each other or to UDDI using 'federation.' The UDDI (v3) interface is the relevant standard here, though it probably will not meet everyone's needs. All of the vendors support it, and look to it as addressing the federation question."

However, the missing link at run-time is the WS-Policy standard now in the hands of a working group at the W3C. Until that work is complete, and significant adoption occurs, proprietary interfaces and partnerships are filling the gap, not altogether successfully.

"The products must talk to run-time components and here there are no well-established standards," Fulton said, noting that WS-Policy is not ready for prime time. "So vendors have been creating proprietary interfaces through partnerships."

For more information
webMethods buys Infravio for SOA governance tools

ZapThink: Registry/repository lies at the heart of SOA

There is, for example, SOA Link, a catalog of governance vendors that demonstrate interoperability, which was started by Infravio last spring prior to its acquisition by webMethods. Fulton also points to a Systinet developed integration interface called the Governance Interoperability Framework (GIF). GIF is in the public domain, but is controlled by Systinet, which is now part of HP, Fulton said, "and therefore less likely to garner rave reviews from others."

But while the bad news is that the standards like WS-Policy aren't there yet, the good news is that market pressures will bring standardization into play, Fulton said.

"The lack of standards for integrating repositories with other components will be a problem for the next few years," he predicts. "At some point, it will be in the vendors' best interest to make this happen because customers will be screaming for it. This is because most customers will ultimately have more than one repository in house just because they will be part of multiple vendors' stack."

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