Actional boosts Web services broker

Actional Corp. on Tuesday will announce an update of its SOAPstation Web services broker, featuring broader support for XML documents and improved management capabilities.

DSOAPstation is a Web services broker that acts as a proxy to broker interactions between applications providing Web services and the systems that build on them. It enables life cycle management, fine-grained access control, configurable logging, alerting, auditing, and service provisioning.

"(Actional is) solving the general problem of how to manage a distributed network of Web services-enabled systems. As you can imagine, this is a difficult and challenging problem for IT managers and developers," said analyst Ronald Schmelzer, of Zapthink, in Waltham, Mass.

Shipping on July 31, SOAPstation 4.1 provides support for managing XML services, such as documents, developed prior to the introduction of Web services standards including SOAP and WSDL. Thusly, user sites can extend their application architecture to embrace legacy XML services, which can be transformed into standard Web services.

"The early adopters of services-oriented architectures were using XML services as a way to do integration prior to Web services," said Ken Rutsky, vice president of product marketing at Actional.

Version 4.1 also features tools for more tightly integrating Web services management into the application development process, according to Actional. The tools automate the movement of management policy between development, test, and production servers and automatically update environmental variables that can change across staging environments.

"Most of our customers typically move from three environments: from a development environment to a test environment then live to a production environment," Rutsky said. The new functionality means policies do not have to be recreated for each environment, Rutsky said.

Additionally, SOAPstation 4.1 management policy files now can be checked in and managed by source code control systems alongside the application logic defining service behavior, said Actional, of Mountain View, Calif.

Scalability and fault-tolerance for mission-critical applications also has been improved. Version 4.1 can be deployed in a clustered configuration for high-volume transactional environments such as banking, financial services, and retail. Multiple instances of SOAPstation can be deployed to boost scalability, volume management, and redundancy, according to Actional.

SOAPstation clusters can be managed more simply through SOAPstation 4.1's ability to automatically propagate updates across members of a cluster.

A systems integrator planning to use SOAPstation 4.1 in a text and speech message translation application touted its XML capabilities.

"The key advantage is management of XML services. The other advantage is it allows us to support transaction-intensive applications by clustering all of the features for support in one interface," said Robert Levin, CEO of Transclick, in New York.

Pricing for SOAPstation 4.1 starts at US$50,000 per CPU.

SOAPstation is a component of Actional's multi-tiered Web services management platform, which also features the Looking Glass Server for centralized service network management and the Looking Glass Console management console.

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