Management vendor AmberPoint Inc. has strayed from its core business of enterprise Web services management and built a developer's version of its AmberPoint Express product that will be integrated into Microsoft's upcoming Visual Studio 2005 .NET development environment.
The new product will enable developers to monitor Web services application performance in a test environment, theoretically reducing time to market by eliminating potential bottlenecks and latency issues before a service is introduced into production.
AmberPoint Express is available to Visual Studio 2005 beta customers and will be included in the commercial releases of Visual Studio Team Architect and Visual Studio Team Developer.
"With the visual development of Web services, services can get complex as they span many application components and message exchange patterns," said James Kobielus, senior analyst with Burton Group. "Thoey can wreak havoc on performance, the more hops a service takes. It would be great to be able to assess these problems during testing."
AmberPoint Express features a set of Web services scenarios that developers can apply to the service they are building, enabling them to test message throughput, latency, response time, problem invocation and other reliability issues.
The developer's version of AmberPoint Express required a re-engineering of its enterprise product to suit the Visual Studio environment, said Ed Horst, vice president of marketing for AmberPoint, Oakland, Calif. He added that wide exposure to the .NET community could open new business opportunities for its enterprise Web services management products.
"AmberPoint really stepped up. What they are shipping is a significant engineering effort," said Rick LaPlante, general manager of Microsoft's enterprise tools division. "They have had to localize the product for wherever Visual Studio goes. They've had to integrate it with ASP.NET to make it work with our testing suites. It's a significant commitment."
It's one the development community is sure to appreciate as well.
"While developers are building Web services in Visual Studio 2005 to be executed in .NET, they can at the same time test the performance characteristics of a service before they are deployed in production," Burton Group's Kobielus said. "They can then tweak their design if there are problems."
Currently, several niche vendors like Keynote Systems Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., Scapa Technologies of Scotland and New York, and Spirent Communications of Calabasas, Calif., offer application testing software that creates synthetic messages that enable developers to diagnose performance problems. Microsoft is the first to include this capability out of the box with a development environment.
"All of these tools intercept, inspect and filter XML and SOAP messages," Kobielus said. "AmberPoint has expanded its product to encompass in-flight and test messages. It's critical to be able to assess whether a service is becoming unwieldy up front before you deploy it."