Actional, Systinet forge Web services partnership

Actional Corp. and Systinet Corp., two Web services software companies that on the surface may appear to be competitors, will announce a partnership on Tuesday.

Through the arrangement, Actional will resell Systinet's WASP (Web Applications and Services Platform) UDDI Web services directory software as a component of Actional's Looking Glass Web services management platform. Reselling is to begin immediately.

Additionally, Systinet will embed Actional Active Agents technology into Systinet's WASP Server software for executing Web services. Active Agents will provide management, monitoring, and policy enforcement capabilities, said Greg Bjork, senior vice president of services and business development at Systinet. This integration is expected to happen in the short term, although no specific date has been set.

"What will happen is when a customer develops Web services using Systinet technology and they deploy those Web services onto the WASP platform, they will be automatically capable of tying into our overall Web services platform," said Actional's James Phillips, chief strategist and senior vice president of products and marketing.

While Actional, of Mountain View, Calif., and Systinet, of Cambridge, Mass., both offer Web services-specific technologies, officials at the companies stress their products are complementary, not competitive.

"If you take the union of our two product lines and you put it together, you end up with a solution for end-to-end Web services deployment and management, with zero overlap," Phillips said.

Through Systinet's UDDI technology, Looking Glass will be able to proactively discover Web services. Additionally, the UDDI product will strengthen the routing capabilities of the Actional SOAPstation, which manages the flow of Web services traffic within a network.

The UDDI arrangement provides Actional customers with a directory solution, Phillips said. "What we're doing, primarily, is providing for customers who want a private (in-house) UDDI facility," as opposed to using the publicly available UDDI directories on the Internet, he said.

The two companies are not competitors, said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink in Waltham, Mass. "Actional is essentially focused on the Web services (management) space and Systinet is focusing on the infrastructure tools and infrastructure more than management," Bloomberg said.

Users with the Systinet-Actional partnership can link Looking Glass and SOAPstation and add the UDDI offering when they are ready, Bloomberg said.

"One of the key advantages to this partnership for customers is that (users) can get a Web services management solution that gets them started. They don't have to have a lot of Web services to get Web services management," Bloomberg said.

Actional and Systinet face an obstacle in that they are smaller companies that will have to persuade customers to buy from each of them rather than go to much larger, more established companies such as IBM or Hewlett-Packard, said Bloomberg.

However, the Actional-Systinet partnership "offers a more seamless approach to building an SOA (services-oriented architecture)," Bloomberg said.

Actional Active Agents are priced at US$10,000 per server while Looking Glass costs US$75,000. WASP Server is free for a single CPU and $2,000 per CPU after that. Systinet WASP UDDI costs US$10,000 per CPU.

Actional, according to Phillips, has a lead in SLA technology for Web services, which is being focused on by IBM Corp.

While IBM has revealed it is working on middleware to enable SLAs to ensure performance of Web services, Phillips said Actional already provides SLA capabilities.

Actional enables monitoring of SLAs and can reroute traffic to a back-up service provider, typically an in-house server, to ensure SLA compliance, Phillips said.

IBM is working on its Web Services Management Middleware, which would enable SLAs on the IBM WebSphere platform. It is expected to be productized within six to 12 months, according to an IBM representative.

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