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IBM: Practice Makes Perfect for the SOA Initiated

IBM's Global Services division has created a practice to help customers with Web services management tools scale to larger service-oriented architectures (SOA).

SOAs are the latest and hottest trend in distributed computing, enabling asynchronous communication among Web services and allowing software assets to be reused to minimize manual coding. As a crucial part of an SOA, Web services facilitate application-to-application communication, serving as a catalyst for transactions over the Web.

Driven by customer demand, the SOA practice will help customers build and manage SOAs, with IBM's services team also offering to help implement management tools from the company's Tivoli software line.

IBM's Tivoli tools manage authentication and authorization; faults and errors; application performance; performance of transactions in an SOA; and integration. They also help catalog Web services with information and include development tools for Web service management agent and client.

Management software from Web services outfit Digital Evolution will also be included in the practice, according to a statement. More third-party software providers are expected to join the practice shortly.

ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said IGS has over 35,000 architects on staff who are now trained in SOA, perhaps the largest network of SOA architects in the world.

"We also feel this news is significant because it is an indication that 2005 will be the year that large enterprises scale their SOA initiatives up -- if not generally to enterprise-wide implementations yet, then at least to substantial cross-departmental projects," Bloomberg told internetnews.com. "So we're no longer talking about SOA adoption; we're talking about scaling SOA now."

IBM has been touting the value of SOAs as a part of its e-business on-demand strategy for several months and has created a foundation software product in its WebSphere line to support its strategy. IBM later opened SOA Design Centers.

Among the larger companies, IBM's closest competition seems to be BEA Systems, which earlier this week launched SOA software and services bundle for such vertical markets as retail and financial services.

Earlier, the San Jose, Calif., concern introduced SOA software for mobile computing devices. Smaller vendors such as Actional, AmberPoint, Infravio and Systinet also focus on SOAs.