Perhaps seeking to avoid the end of the year rush, vendors in the SOA space are releasing new and updated products this week.
Today, Iona Technologies Inc. is announcing Artix 4.1, an update to its ESB product that tightly integrates AmberPoint Inc.'s management technology. In Europe today, BEA Systems Inc. is touting new updates including Kodo 4.1, its Java persistence product and Workshop Studio Version 3.2.1.
Iona is announcing "out of-the-box interoperability" with AmberPoint's SOA management and security products, which the company says is a key milestone in the partnership begun this past April.
"This release is about delivering on that strategy, putting together a component-based solution incorporating partner offerings," said Andrew Broadstone, product marketing manager for Iona Technologies. "The big partner we're talking about today is AmberPoint, bringing advanced management to our distributed ESB capability. We're done some engineering to make the relationship between the two products very tight, making it so that AmberPoint can really see into how the Artix ESB endpoints are working."
Tom Rhinelander, analyst with New Rowley Group Inc., said Iona's integration of AmberPoint's technology is part of a trend in SOA where smaller vendors seek alliances to provide customers with best of breed technology. Meanwhile, the large vendors try to be one stop SOA shopping centers.
"What you're seeing is companies have two ways to go in the SOA space," the analyst said. "Either you try to deliver everything, which is the IBM way to do it. Or you can offer various pieces in the SOA stack. In this case, AmberPoint has lots of experience in the management side and Iona is looking to take advantage of AmberPoint for customers who have gotten enough services in place that they need a management tool."
Broadstone said Iona's latest release of Artix is based on demands the company has been hearing from its customers. Rhinelander said that as SOA moves from pilot projects to larger applications, requirements for management tools increases.
"You start off in the project phase," the analyst said of the typical SOA scenario. "You get one or two projects. As they start to get more critical, more relied upon, then you say: 'I've got to spend more effort on managing these things.' That's when you start to look towards the people dedicated to the SOA management space, which is where AmberPoint's expertise is."
Beyond the tight integration with AmberPoint, Artix 4.1 adds support for the latest Web services standards including SOAP 1.2, which augments existing support for SOAP 1.1, Broadstone said. The updated product also includes greater support for BPEL.
"It's a solid point release," Rhinelander said of the added features in Artix. "It's got a 'keeping up with the Joneses' update in terms of standards in the Web services space, the latest SOAP version, extensions to BPEL.
BEA announces updates at show in Europe
At BEA World in Prague today, the company is announcing an update to the Kodo product it acquired just about a year ago from SolarMetrics.
"Its legacy is providing persistence technology for Java developers," said Blake Connell, director of product marketing for WebLogic Server. "It provides the ability to store things in a database from your Java application."
Kodo 4.1 fits into BEA's blended strategy that includes its own products, plus those from partners and the open source community, he said.
"The technology we're using in Kodo 4.1 has been recently released from the Java Community Process around Enterprise Java Beans 3," Connell explained. "As part of EJB 3, there was a new Java persistence API, and that is what's implemented in Kodo 4.1."
Developers using Kodo 4.1 in a project like online shopping do not have to worry about coding in persistence for the data such as credit card information that a customer enters from the Web client side, he said.
The Kodo announcement is a prelude to a larger product upgrade that BEA is planning before year's end, according to Connell.
"We plan to announce a new version of WebLogic Server towards the end of this calendar year that will fully implement all of EJB 3," he said.
BEA is also using its European show this week to showcase an update to BEA Workshop for WebLogic and Workshop Studio. This is likely to be one of the last enhancements to them as separate products, as BEA has a roadmap that will merge them into one product by mid-2007, said Pieter Humphrey, senior product marketing manager for the Workshop Tools division.
Furthering its blended strategy, BEA Workshop for WebLogic Platform 9.2 now features an Eclipse update for IDE Design Views, he said. The product builds upon its existing integration with Eclipse 3.1 and WebTools 1.0 for visual Web service development and enhanced Beehive Page Flow development, he added.
For Workshop Studio, the new 3.2.1 version includes open-source updates of Eclipse 3.2.1, Web Tools 1.5.1 and Spring 1.3.4, Humphrey said.