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Infravio, HP Expand Web Services Platforms

Web services management software vendor Infravio is planning to announce Tuesday that it has ported its Ensemble Web Services Management Suite to Hewlett-Packard's NonStop platform, a move that would allow NonStop users to manage application integration within and outside a firewall.

HP NonStop servers were introduced by Tandem Computing in 1975 as fault-tolerant, redundant computer clusters designed to minimize system downtime; they are now part of HP's high-end enterprise server lineup.

According to Wil Marshman, product manager for Web services products for HP's NonStop Enterprise Division, 80 percent of the world's ATMs and stock exchanges run on the systems.

The announcement comes as Sabre Holdings , the travel commerce, technology and information provider, said it would use Infravio's Web services program for consumers, service providers and internal operations.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Infravio's product provides management and governance tools that help companies set up and monitor factors such as authentication, quality and levels of service, flexible routing and version control.

The company also provides Infravio Distributed Broker, software that sits between provider and consumer, providing real-time information about business activity.

The services-oriented approach of publishing applications as Web services creates the need for governance, said Infravio's vice president of marketing Patrick Vallaeys. "You have to recreate the whole relationship between service provider and consumer, so that I know who you are, what you will be using my service for, what kind of load you will generating, and who I should contact if I have a problem or want to change something," he said.

Ensemble Distributed Broker already runs on most J2EE platforms, including BEA WebLogic Server, IBM WebSphere and Jboss; the company said it will soon be available on Microsoft's .Net platform.

The port to NonStop would also extend Ensemble's ability to provide cross-platform application integration. HP provided some financing for the development, and the NonStop sales team will co-market the application, which is available for a one-time license starting at $75,000, company officials said.

"Our customers can't afford to take their systems down, even for a couple of hours to make changes or bring in a new version of a Web service," HP's Marshman said. According to Marshman, the most useful of Infravio's management functions are their ability to keep applications running while changes are made, as well as reusability. Ensemble includes tools that encourage reuse of services, which is a desirable cost-saving strategy.

Of the 4,000 or so NonStop customers, 30 to 40 percent are actively implementing Web services, while many more are testing the waters, Marshman said.

Infravio's management tools encourage the adoption of Web services, he added, because they let "people know they have a pathway, even if they're starting small. Even if they're just trying something out, they need to know they can take it to the next level."

Sabre Holdings said it would use Infravio Ensemble 4.0 in its Web services program for consumers, service providers and internal operations. Southlake, Tex.-based Sabre Holdings, which operates Travelocity, Sabre Travel Network, and Sabre Airline Solutions, is building a corporate portal with tools for shopping, registering and implementing Web services, with the first phase, an online services directory, expected to go live this month. Sabre plans to double the number of services available in 2004.

Vallaeys said that because Sabre charges for its services, it would make use of Ensemble's tools for authentication, control and service level monitoring. "We define terms such as security, authentication method, delay, the possible data transformation we need to do and alerts," he said. "All these become terms of the contract. We establish the rules in the software and enforce them at runtime through the Broker."

Web services management is a hot market segment with a lot of products coming to market, according to Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at Web Services-focused research firm ZapThink. "Customers are now serious about using these products." Bloomberg said about nine or ten small vendors have product offerings in the field.

ZapThink projects that their share of the market will top out at $310 million in 2006. By then, the total Web services management software market will reach $15 billion, but the lion's share is expected to consist of established software vendors that are adding this capability to their enterprise suites.

"Right now there are big companies going with the smaller vendors, because they can't get [management tools] from the big vendors yet," Bloomberg said. "Over time, some customers may switch, or some of these smaller players may get acquired. Probably a few will become big fish, and will eat their next door neighbor instead of being eaten."