Attempting to plug a critical hole exposed by the development of Web services, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard have joined forces to create a management platform for Web services environments.
The initiative addresses a key operational issue that other vendors, including Microsoft, Computer Associates and a handful of startups, are rushing to fill.
Labeled SPINE (Service Provider Infrastructure Network Environment), the Sun ONE (Open Network Environment) -enabled prototype automates the event and transaction monitoring, performance and usage measurement services of HP OpenView across networks, applications and services.
"[SPINE] deals with the real issue of, 'If this service is up, I need to know if it's alive and healthy', " said Bill Roth, group product manager at Sun ONE. Roth said California-based Sun will unveil similar partnerships with other vendors during its Solaris 9 launch in May.
Under the HP deal, customers will be able to manage and integrate applications and Web services tied to the HP OpenView console through smart plug-ins, said officials of HP.
The remarkable lack of attention given to Web services management has been worrisome, said Valerie O'Connell, an analyst at Aberdeen Group.
"If you think about applications dynamically configuring in deference to context, how are you going to make certain that any transaction occurs, and with good performance?" O'Connell asked. "Manageability has to be built in to Web services."
Software giant Computer Associates is expected to upgrade its CleverPath portal in the coming months to provide a console to manage Web services deployment. CA said its support of Visual Studio .Net was the first step in helping the company offer a full set of management tools to span J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and Microsoft .Net environments.
Microsoft's Application Center tool provides services management as well, allowing users to manage and monitor clusters of servers that provide Web services as if they were a single server, said Bob Pulliam, technical product manager of the management business group at Microsoft.
Launched last June, IBM's Tivoli Web Services Manager offers customers management and policy-based security for applications that run on Web services. The product monitors transaction performance and availability in real time.
Meanwhile, a California-based startup will introduce Version 2.0 of its Web Services Management System at JavaOne, adding both the capability for leveraging code from a variety of sources and a set of configuration interfaces.
Talking Blocks, an emerging Web services pureplay based in San Francisco, is also due to release a new version of its Web services management platform in the second quarter.