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Tools promise to manage Web services complexity

As Web services proliferate, so will the scope of managing all interactions from back-end hardware and software systems through to end-user applications and portals, according to Dan Foody, CTO at Actional Corp. Thus, he maintains, a management overview is needed.

''When people design a system, they really only see their portion of the overall environment,'' he said. ''They don't see how that relates to something else that relates to something else.''

Foody said organizations often have teams with different views and skill sets working on parts of what becomes a larger Web services infrastructure. For example, a team of Java programmers can develop a powerful financial analysis application that can then become a Web service that is available to end users through a portal built by another team using Microsoft .NET.

But while each team is familiar with their portion, IT has to have an overview of the entire Web services infrastructure for all the parts to work together.

To provide that end-to-end view, Actional this week brought out the general availability of management tools specifically designed for .NET and Windows. The Actional tools, including Actional SOAPstation, Actional Looking Glass Server and Actional Active Agents, are designed to work with Microsoft Operation Manager (MOM), Foody said.

Actional engineers worked with their Microsoft counterparts to fully integrate the new tools with Microsoft's MOM tools for management, monitoring and alerting, reporting and trend analysis, to provide the big picture of Web services interaction, he said.

''With Looking Glass, our Active Agent technology and our SOAPstation technology, we're able to give people global visibility into what's happening end-to-end throughout the system,'' Foody said.

The combination of the Microsoft and Actional technologies will allow IT departments to assure reliability when an end user goes to the portal to work with something like the financial analysis Web service, he said.

''Microsoft MOM gives you great visibility into what's happening on an individual system all the way from the hardware through the operating system through the application,'' Foody explained. ''That gives you a detailed view of what's happening on one system. Where something like Looking Glass ties in together, we now understand how that application interrelates with other applications, so that you can see how problems might ripple throughout the system. If you can detect a problem in one place, you can figure out what all the cause and effects may be, you can figure out what caused that problem to appear in one spot, but you can also figure out who may be affected by that problem upstream.

''So when you combine together a technology that gives you a detailed view of an individual system with a technology like ours that gives you a deep understanding of how these systems are inter-related,'' continued Foody, ''you get broad-scale visibility into everything that's going on in the network. You have a much greater ability to predict and deal with failures and to also correct those failures before they become noticeable to users.''

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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