Some Web services management vendors have taken great pains to distance themselves from traditional enterprise application integration. Not Infravio Inc. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company wears its EAI credentials like a badge of honor.
Next week, Infravio plans to release an updated version of its Ensemble Web services management platform that places a strong emphasis on integration between consumers and providers of Web services.
James Kobielus, a senior analyst with Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, described Infravio's approach as that of a "lightweight integration broker" with an orientation toward "any-to-any" application integration based on message transformation and routing.
"Basically, I think their strengths are in Web services development, publishing, version management and the like," Kobielus said.
A UDDI-like registry
Ensemble 4.0 offers monitoring and management capabilities, but its most important new feature is a repository of Web services delivery preferences, said Jeff Tonkel, president and chief executive of Infravio.
He said his company's new Delivery Contract repository houses a service-consuming application's preferences for things such as security, messaging and data transformation. In turn, a provider of a Web service can register its service, so that consuming applications can find it. And an administrator can use the repository like a traffic cop for access management, because in a "real" enterprise, consumers and providers "just don't willy-nilly use each other," Tonkel said.
"We call all of that a contract, where there's actually a contract established between a known consumer and a known provider," Tonkel said. "And there are [a] set of terms for that contract that are agreed to and approved by that pair, and that's all done in a development environment."
If such a repository sounds a lot like the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) registry, that's because it is -- with a twist.
Patrick Vallaeys, Infravio's vice president of marketing, said the company's Delivery Contract is a "much richer repository" than UDDI because that registry is a one-way street. UDDI provides information about a service to the consuming application, but the provider doesn't get any information about the consumer, he said.
Vallaeys said Ensemble's Delivery Contract component -- using WSDL as the interface --can let a provider of a Web service know, for example, a consumer's contact information, its message log preferences and when it needs to disconnect from the service for routine system maintenance.
"We also provide a UDDI-compliant view of that metadata, so that if you want to activate to a UDDI browser, you can actually go there and get the basic information that the UDDI registry provides," Vallaeys said.
Web services reuse promoted
Because these preferences can be stored in the Delivery Contract, it promotes Web services reuse, a key goal for organizations adopting Web services.
"What we found early on from our customers is that they were creating three versions of the same service, and that's really not what you want to have happen," Tonkel said. He called it "ludicrous" to duplicate work to provide different consumers with the same service.
So what makes Ensemble more than just EAI?
"First of all, we are not [an enterprise service] bus or a hub," Tonkel said. "You use us to provide a logical view to what is on top of the Web services environment. We're the logical overlay on top that provides EAI-like functions."
Ensemble 4.0 is currently being beta-tested by two of Infravio's customers. It will be generally available later this quarter. Tonkel said that the platform typically starts at $75,000 and includes one to two weeks of "lightweight" consulting. Longer-term consulting and professional services are also available, he said.
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