Web services to spawn their own mgmt. tools

A recent study by Gartner shows that Web services may increase the need for management, but the tools won't be delivered by the usual suspects.

In this week's report, "Web Services Operations Management: A New Level of NSM," Gartner details how the traditional network and system management vendors - such as BMC Software Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. - may not be on the leading edge of Web services management. The reason is that "traditional management systems are still required to assist IS organizations with the requisite operational and administrative processes," of which Web services will only play a part.

While Web services' dynamic nature will make management a higher priority than some client/server technologies, the focus on managing solely the Web service layer will invite some pioneers into the management market. Gartner says Web services brokers and network vendors will provide most of the early management tools as the need grows and the market matures.

Provider platform vendors will also play a role in this emerging market. Depending on what the platform providers include in their tools, other vendors will scurry to develop anything that may have been left out. And because the market is relatively small, the traditional network and systems management leaders will invest only gradually.

Gartner predicts that new vendors will emerge to offer best-of-breed tools for Web service-specific problems. Performance and availability, configuration, accounting and asset management tools will lead off product releases. Established vendors will develop add-on tools and extensions to treat Web services as simply another managed object. Those products will evolve from current application server management tools, Gartner says.

Big management vendors will also look to acquire the technology from the aforementioned best-of-breed niche players that emerge. The installed bases of companies such as IBM and HP will help those companies dominate the market.

The software to manage Web services will also vary. It will come in active and passive varieties, Gartner says. Acceleration tools could potentially be incorporated into management products to optimize performance and response times. Testing software will also get more attention because of the potential of immediate consequences from poorly performing XML-based applications.

The five areas Gartner says Web services management tools must address are the traditional "FCAPS" areas: fault, configuration, accounting (or asset), performance and security management. While there isn't yet a complete tool from one vendor, Gartner says 75% of enterprise companies implementing Web services will be deploying more than one management tool.

Apparently, testing tools will lead the way. Gartner identifies emerging vendors - such as Parasoft Corp. and its SOAPtest product and Empirix Inc. and its FirstAct tools - as Web services operations management pioneers.

Companies such as Red Gate Software and Altova Inc. may make news with their Advanced .Net Testing System and Web server proxy tools, respectively, Gartner says. Chutney Technologies Inc., DataPower Technology Inc. and Tarari Inc. (a spin-off from Intel Corp.'s Network Processing Group) also made the list of emerging Web services management vendors.

Among the network management giants, Gartner says only HP has a Web services product available now. HP's smart plug-in for Sun (SunONE Web services SOAP engine) works other HP tools to identify Web services errors and measure Web services response times.

Lastly, the Gartner report discusses standards around managing Web services. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) formed a technical committee and is looking to develop a standard for the management of distributed systems infrastructures. The effort is using already proven Web services technologies such as XML and SOAP, but Gartner points out that new management standards tend to lose momentum within the industry.

"As evidence of this fact, the primary management protocol used today, SNMP, was found in 1987. Even though many of the members of this committee were successful in the development of the common information model (CIM) as part of an earlier Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) effort, to date, only a few vendors have chosen to support this new management infrastructure," the report states.

Vendors such as IBM, Microsoft Corp., BMC, webMethods Inc. and Talking Blocks Inc. are participating in the OASIS committee.

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