The basic goal of an SOA is to make resources available on a network in such a way that the resources are accessible by client applications without the applications having to resort to low-level (language- or platform-specific) APIs. The resources often have processing capabilities and are therefore referred to as services. In that sense, accessing a service looks a lot like making a very elaborate remote procedure call.
Enterprisewide, broadly available, and easily extensible services - the Holy Grail of SOA - is the goal to which Software AG's crossvision suite aspires. The suite is a collection of services, tools, and components held lightly together by CentraSite, a sort of combination application server, management system, and repository.
The crossvision suite is an ESB suite, and its XML language is BPEL (Business Process Execution Language). As do some ESBs previously reviewed, crossvision can talk to JMS, but it can also receive documents from other sources (HTTP, e-mail, even a file).
The suite is "complete" in that you don't have to have your own Web server or database. CentraSite provides the persistence back end, and Apache/Tomcat is built in -at least, I didn't have to install them separately. The Service Orchestrator IDE also has simulation capabilities, so you can test a service before deploying it.
Crossvision's Information Integrator provides the means for gathering data from disparate sources and organizing that data in such a way that its consumers can translate the data into contexts appropriate for their needs. In other words, Information Integrator helps consumers go beyond simply rearranging data, Information Integrator helps them draw inferences from it.
The duty of the Legacy Integrator can be largely deduced from its name. It makes the data (e.g., VSAM) and applications (e.g., those written in PL/1 and COBOL) of yesterday available to the applications of today. It also provides wrappers that allow those legacy applications to access modern resources such as Web services.
With Business Process Manager, you can describe the data involved, resources required, role-responsibilities granted, and other characteristics that define a business task. What makes the Business Process Manager actually useful is that it participates in the execution of the tasks so defined -- for example, it will see to it that information is routed to the appropriate recipient.
Components include Information Integrator, Legacy Integrator, Business Process Manager, Service Orchestrator, and Orchestrator Studio. For my review, I focused on the parts of crossvision that a creator of new services will interact with the most: CentraSite 2.1, Service Orchestrator 3.1, and Service Orchestrator Studio 126.96.36.199.