Actional Revamps Web Services Management Tool

SOAPstation can manage XML services created and deployed before Web services standards were developed

Web services may still be in their infancy, but there’s already a market for tools that help manage them. To address this emerging market, Actional Corp., a provider of Web services management software, last week announced an upgrade for its SOAPstation Web services broker.

Actional says that it has revamped SOAPstation to better handle legacy XML services, along with Web services that are based on the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). SOAPstation is a proxy broker that sits between Web services applications and back-end systems.

SOAPstation is a part of Actional's Web services management platform, which includes Looking Glass Server, an enterprise service network management engine, Systinet WASP-UDDI server, and Looking Glass Console, a centralized administrative tool.

Thanks to its new support for legacy XML transformations, SOAPstation can now manage XML services that were created and deployed prior to the development of Web services standards such as SOAP and the Web Services Description Language (WSDL).

SOAPstation monitors XML message flow and event streams for metrics such as response times and transaction rates. It facilitates granular access control and supports logging, alerting, and auditing.

SOAPstation isn’t just a monitoring tool. It also provides vital transformation services so it can reformat non-SOAP XML into SOAP-compliant messages. While many companies are only beginning to embrace XML and Web services, IT organizations in specific industries, such as the insurance and financial services verticals, began deploying services based on XML before the advent of SOAP, WSDL, and other standards.

According to Ken Rutsky, vice president of product marketing, many of SOAPstation’s existing customers have been attracted by its XML translation and transformation capabilities. “We’ve got one customer who’s doing document translation via Web services and then using our management services in order to scale that to millions of users and hundreds of thousands of consuming applications,” Rutksy confirmed, during an interview in April. “We’ve got another customer—an extremely high transaction financial services environment—and they’re making a lot of those translation services available into their application offerings as Web services.”

Even though Web services are still evolving, Rutsky says SOAPstation is a solution that can “insulate” customers from upheaval as existing standards change and new standards are introduced: “It sits in the network so that it can actually get in and take active control of the messages to insulate service providers from change.”

As of April, Rutsky says, Actional had about 15 SOAPstation customers, some of them large Fortune 1000 organizations. “Another customer is a large telecommunications company that’s deploying Web services across the infrastructure,” he explains. “We’re working with their billing organization and they’re basically using SOAPstation as a management infrastructure.”

Actional has also improved scalability and fault tolerance in SOAPstation 4.1. The revamped Web services broker can be now be deployed in clustered configurations to support high-volume transactional environments. In addition, organizations can now deploy multiple instances of SOAPstation to boost scalability and availability.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.