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Sonic Sounds Off with SOA Upgrade

Sonic Software has added a collaboration server and database service to the new version of its service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform, built on top of the company's enterprise service bus (ESB) technology.

Sonic CTO Gordon Van Huizen said the company created the new products to round out the company's SOA Infrastructure 6.1, a suite that helps companies integrate disparate pieces of software and reuse assets to cut development costs. The suite leverages the Sonic's ESB, which lets administrators integrate applications.

The Collaboration Server is a business-to-business component that allows an administrator to manage partner interactions in an SOA, using B2B protocols and Web services standards, Van Huizen said. The product lets enterprises meet partner requirements without disrupting their operations.

In that capacity, the Collaboration Service performs a bit like a commerce server. Van Huizen said the distinction is that the internal view of the enterprise is aligned with Sonic's SOA model. Most commerce servers from integration vendors are their own isolated environments that require a lot of integration.

To make the Collaboration Service compliant with industry standards, Sonic also supports the two primary B2B protocols, ebXML and RosettaNet, with support for BPEL and Web services specifications to come.

Van Huizen said the Bedford, Mass., company created Database Service in order to help customers integrate relational data sources into an SOA, making it easier for them to reuse existing data resources.

"What we found is that a significant number of customers were bringing relational data into their SOAs," Van Huizen said. "With most products on the market, that's a difficult thing to do." He noted that a customer usually has to map from the relational query model into a message- or event-driven service.

The Database Service provides the tooling and runtime service to make integrating the database easier. The product features a development mapping tool that allows users to map from XML message schema into SQL queries and then map SQL results back into XML messages that would be pushed back out to the ESB.

The service uses drivers from DataDirect Technologies to provide connectivity with Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase Adaptive Server, Informix Dynamic Server and IBM DB2 UDB. DataDirect was acquired by Sonic parent Progress Software last year.

The new products join Sonics's Orchestration Server, XML Server and Workbench, all underpinned by Sonic's ESB in the company's infrastructure line.

As a maker of Java-based infrastructure software, Sonic sees its main competitors as IBM , BEA Systems , as well as pure-play integration vendors like webMethods and Tibco.

Although Sonic has 175 customers using its ESB and SOA stacks, the company doesn't have the financial or personnel clout of the large vendors. Van Huizen said Sonic's goal is to promote as much interoperability as possible as the self-described "Switzerland" of the sector, winning customers who don't want to go whole hog for IBM's or BEA's platforms.

The CTO said Sonic's primary challenge going forward mirrors that of the other infrastructure vendors: integrating disparate types of applications into their SOA models.