Arms Race Continues in SOA

HP and IBM load up on new features while refining their focuses -- each aiming to cash in on the appeal for software-oriented architecture.


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Within the space of five days, computer giants Hewlett-Packard (HP) and IBM each announced upgrades to their service-oriented architecture (SOA) product lines.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) today unveiled version 3.0 of its Systinet SOA governance solution, while IBM (NYSE: IBM) on Thursday announced a slew of software and services based around business processes.

The announcements come at a time when businesses, squeezed by chaos in the financial sector and an economic slowdown, are scrambling to do things faster, better and cheaper. An increasing number of vendors and their customers see SOA (define) as the solution.

"We've seen an acceleration with both our customer base and prospects we're working with where IT says they understand the benefits of SOA and want to get there faster," Kelly Emo, HP SOA software product manager, told InternetNews.com.

Angel Diaz, IBM's director of WebSphere business process management and connectivity, said likewise.

"Time to value is critical to customers when aligning what's needed from the business perspective to IT," Diaz told InternetNews.com.

The two companies' approaches differ: IBM offers a broad portfolio of products built around process, while HP's offering is focused solely on governance -- the "act of managing the interaction between providing and consuming a service throughout its lifecycle," Emo said. Governance ensures that when developers build a service, they adhere to business and IT objectives and that the consumers of that service can trust and use it in their composite applications.

"We don't provide the stack or middleware -- we provide the governance," Emo added. "We can deal with services whether they run on .NET, IBM WebSphere, Oracle AppServer or Oracle WebLogic."

Meanwhile, IBM's tools enable users to create a workspace with role-based access for security. IBM calls this a "business space," and role-based access provides security and ensures that users get exactly what they need for their work.

"Process is the ultimate context; if you can articulate what it is you need to do to achieve business results, you can provide that control to business folks," Diaz said. "We focus on continuous business process optimization to help business people do what they need to achieve a particular objective."

The workspace is powered by WebSphere business process management, and it is accessible through a browser on the desktop, laptop, handhelds like the BlackBerry or instant messaging. "The idea is whatever you're doing, you have access to understanding and also controlling the nature of your business," Diaz said.

IBM's new launch also included a business process management suite supported across all its products. This consists of WebSphere dynamic process edition and the FileNet active content edition, both SOA-based.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com. To read the full article, click here.

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