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Iona enters the SOA registry/repository business

Iona's new registry/repository is the new kid on the SOA block where other vendors offer more mature technology, but the company is staking its claim to a larger vision that goes beyond its own products.

The new Iona Artix Registry/Repository was unveiled today by Iona Technologies Inc., branching out beyond its integration/ESB approach to SOA and forming what the company call a larger vision for service-oriented architecture.

We think SOAs are heterogeneous by nature and most of the vendors in the space of registry/repository and governance are thinking about governance only within their own environments.
Eric Newcomer
Chief Technology OfficerIona Technologies Inc.

What differentiates the new Iona technology from other vendors' registry/repository products is discovery technology that provides "a complete system of record of services in a distributed SOA environment, including the policies, contracts, implementation artifacts and dependencies that control their usage," said Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at Iona, in positioning his product against existing offerings.

"Most of the registry/repositories that are out there today do a very good job of storing and retrieving metadata for people who want to know what's going on in a project and see how many services they have and what kinds of services they have," the CTO explained. "But those products don't go beyond that to interact with the runtime where the services are deployed, ours does. With our registry/repository, you can take some services descriptions from the registry that are stored there, compose them together into a deployment unit, create a policy-based configuration for that deployment unit, and actually go out and deploy those services on an endpoint."

However, analysts say that the main differentiator for the Iona entrant into the registry/repository game is that it is the newest entry in a somewhat crowded field, including the Hewlett-Packard Corp. Systinet Registry, which the Burton Group lists as the leader of the pack.

Placing it among the existing players, Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC., said: "What's most unique about the Iona reg/rep is that it's at version 1.0, while HP Systinet Registry, webMethods Infravio X-Registry and LogicLibrary Logidex are now all quite mature products. Even the IBM WebSphere Service Registry/Repository, a relative latecomer, has been on the market longer."

Asked what differentiates Iona's registry/repository from the existing vendor products in the SOA market, Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst for application infrastructure at Current Analysis, said: "As you might imagine with any 1.0 release, Iona's registry can't boast of a complete feature set compared with solutions from specialized providers like HP's Systinet and SOA Software. For example, Iona is just beginning to work out support for federation, working with other vendors on the Governance Interoperability Framework (GIF) standard."

However, Shimmin does see potential for the new kid of the reg/rep block.

"IONA's repository is forward thinking in its focus on governance with guided provisioning tools and an automated validation service that compares what's running on the network with what's housed in the registry/repository," he said.

As part of its future potential, Newcomer said the new registry/repository will be extended to fit it into heterogeneous environments. He noted that even the initial version can be purchased without Iona's ESB. This is part of what he describes as Iona's lightweight, incremental approach to SOA, in which organizations need only buy the software they need for their implementation rather than a suite.

"We think SOAs are heterogeneous by nature and most of the vendors in the space of registry/repository and governance are thinking about governance only within their own environments," Newcomer said. "They're not thinking about it across the board."

While this first version of the Artix registry/repository was based on what Iona customers requested, Newcomer said, the next step will be to extend it beyond the vendor suite approach.

"Part of our core vision is that companies are going to start to view their IT assets in terms of a collection of reusable services," he said. "Those services are distributed by nature and they need this distributed infrastructure including the new governance tool to get the value out of their existing environments as promised by the SOA infrastructure. Our plan is over time to extend this tool into heterogeneous environments, so we can provide the same capabilities for .NET deployments, Java deployments, not just our own runtime."

For more information
Burton Group sizes up the SOA registry landscape

ZapThink: Registry/repository lies at the heart of SOA

However, the analysts are somewhat skeptical that the new product will go beyond being of value to existing Iona Artix customers, at least in version 1.0.

ZapThink's Bloomberg said, "The Iona entry arguably makes sense for current Artix customers, but there's nothing in their announcement that would tempt anyone else."

However, Shimmin at Current Analysis sees potential to meet Newcomer's heterogeneous SOA vision.

"While Iona's registry/repository may never achieve the same level of functionality as industry leading solutions," he said, "it has been fine tuned to support Iona's unique, decentralized architecture. This is the reason Iona chose to create its own registry rather than OEM or bundle a third party solution. This makes it the best solution for Iona customers, of course. Over time we expect that this approach will differentiate Iona's registry from its competitors, assuming the company chooses to firmly position its offering as a unique product in support of non-Iona deployments."

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