The SOA Management market has largely consolidated, as the vendors who first built out Web Services Management products that they later renamed SOA Management have found that the core challenges of SOA management are traditional IT management problems: network, systems, and applications management.

Thinking Outside the SOA Box Document ID: ZAPFLASH-20061115 

By Jason Bloomberg

I've disagreed with the analysts at ZapThink on occasion but in this case Jason Bloomberg is spot on. Having configured and extensively tested SOA Management suites since their inception, the difference between these "new" management suites and traditional management suites shows itself only at the very highest layers of the stack.

The whole goal of SOA initiatives is to deploy services that get mashed up into multiple applications, after all, and application management is a well-understood paradigm. I've said many times that traditional APM solutions are not capable of managing service-oriented applications, because the applications are built differently. Agent-based management is no longer applicable because the apps aren't comprised of EJBs and Java code anymore; they're now comprised of distributed services. Apps can't be monitored or managed based on a URI, because the URI is only the tip of the iceberg - it's the XML inside that matters.

But the same issues - service level agreements, application and service performance and availability, and scalability - are still very applicable in the SOA world. Perhaps even more so given the nature of XML and its impact on compute resources.

Scaling an application is no longer as simple as bringing up another instance of an application server and load balancing requests across the two. Scaling an application now requires scaling one or more underlying services, which can mean - if you aren't careful - adding multiple instances of multiple application servers. Each one requiring additional compute resources and possibly more hardware and software licenses. A costly endeavor to be sure. But this isn't a new concept at all, as the process of scaling a single application in a container of many applications can be applied to a service-oriented scaling situation - it's just more granular. The game hasn't changed, just some of the rules.

Just as application management of traditional systems evolved to an understanding that you can't just manage the app, you need to monitor and manage the underlying infrastructure, so too is SOA Management moving in that direction. Suites from Actional, SOA Software, and AmberPoint are applying the lessons learned from traditional APM suites and making them work for SOA-based applications. There are a whole lot of dependencies for a single application that have to be correlated in order to really understand and manage the SOA environment, and that's something that is well-understood by traditional APM solutions.

Imbibing: coffee