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Actional Hugs SOA for Broader Focus

Actional is shifting its strategy to include service-oriented architecture (SOA) in the latest point upgrade to its software platform.

Actional 5.1, announced Monday, now supports databases, Web pages, middleware and legacy systems not based on XML or SOAP.

The Mountain View, Calif., company will still make software that shepherds Web services or application-to-application communication, said CTO Dan Foody. But embracing the term "SOA" was only logical after customers demanded a broader range of software for integrating their applications, the engineer said.

The move from exclusive Web services support to the broader SOA method for distributed computing is a common theme in the software industry. IBM , BEA Systems and Computer Associates, as well as smaller vendors, such as Cape Clear and Infravio, have introduced SOA products in the last few months as the market increasingly recognizes the need for more inclusive platforms.

Accordingly, Foody told internetnews.com that its products, such as the Looking Glass suite, lend visibility among Web services and service-level agreements and perform root-cause analysis of problems, all of which customers love.

"But one of the things that they've come back to us and said is, 'Our problem is that our environment isn't just Web services. We've got Web servers on the front, database servers on the back, legacy systems... We really like these Looking Glass features, but we want them over a broader scope,'" Foody said.

Such customer feedback prompted Foody and his team to make the sweeping upgrades to their software platform in version 5.1. The new release extends management capabilities beyond SOAP and XML-based Web services to include other services in a typical SOA. For example, Looking Glass now manages databases, Web pages, middleware and legacy systems that are not based on XML or SOAP.

New 5.1 tools include Actional Active Agents for Java Database Connectivity , Java Server Pages and Servlets, and Active Server Pages , all of which will be supported by SLA monitoring and enforcement, automatic correlation and root-cause analysis.

The core Actional platform employs role-based administration, which allows users to view or change only the information and configurations for which they are authorized. Self-service administration, introduced in 5.1, allows shared installations of Actional products to appear as if each user has their own copy of the software.

The vendor is also offering a software development kit to help customers manage legacy and non-SOAP services within an SOA.

Actional 5.1 is now available. Customers can buy Actional software components, such as SOAPstation, and pay $5000 per CPU when they go into production. Or they may purchase the entire management stack (including Looking Glass and CentralControl), which start between $50,000 and $100,000, depending on the degree of need.