Actional, Westbridge Merge in SOA Union


Actional said it has merged with Westbridge Technology in a marriage of two small companies that specialize in managing Web services .


Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed. However, company officials called the
agreement between the Mountain View, Calif., based firms a merger of
equals, with Westbridge CEO Tom Ryan taking the helm as CEO for the
conjoined entity that will retain the name Actional.


Actional President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Bergandi will
leave to
pursue other interests, company officials said. The combined company will have 75 employees and operate out of the new Westbridge office. The company has also soaked up $12.9 million in new funding from August
Capital,
Granite Ventures and NeoCarta, among others.


New Actional CEO Tom Ryan discussed the competitive landscape in light of the merger.


“I think if you’re talking about the privately-held management and
security
vendors — Amberpoint, Reactivity, Systinet and others, I think it
changes
the dynamics a little bit,” Ryan told internetnews.com. “This is
truly a merger of two successful companies that both had a lot of
momentum
and wind at their back. That, compounded with the additional new
funding
puts us in a strong position. Within the scope of the privately-held
companies, we feel we’re in a dominant position.”

The companies have been quietly working out the deal for the last
several
months, finding ways to integrate Actional’s Web services management
software and Westbridge’s XML security software.


Actional CTO Dan Foody said the code bases were so similar that the
engineers from both organizations were able to create a new flagship
service-oriented architecture (SOA) suite, called SOA
Command
and Control.


The new flagship offering features key elements from both companies,
including Actional’s Looking Glass Server, SOAPstation Service Broker,
Looking Glass Console and Westbridge’s XML Firewall, Foody told
internetnews.com.


The package is a complete suite for customers looking to accept and
trade
applications that conduct transactions such as purchase orders,
providing
users a total view of the transaction from start to finish in a secure
environment.


The market for so-called SOA enablement, which includes all of the
pieces of
a distributed computing environment with reusable components, has been
evolving in the last couple of years as Web services and SOA adoption
has
increased. IDC anticipates the market for Web services infrastructure
will
top $3.2 billion by 2008.


The evolution in the market includes several
acquisitions as players try to position for the sector. Last week, Computer
Associates bought security software provider Netegrity. Last month, Digital Evolution bought Flamenco Networks, which makes specialized network infrastructure for enterprises that want to install service-oriented architectures based on the SOAP messaging protocol.


ZapThink senior analyst Jason Bloomberg said the Actional-Westbridge merger changes the competitive landscape for SOA enablement providers.


“This acquisition definitely makes sense for both parties, as their
technologies are reasonably complementary, and the combined offering is
comprehensive and powerful,” Bloomberg told internetnews.com.
“They
will definitely continue to give Digital Evolution and AmberPoint in
particular a run for their money.”


“But make no mistake — everybody was expecting continued consolidation
in
this space, so Actional’s competitors will not be caught by surprise,”
he
said.


One of the major concerns about a merger or acquisition is that a
product
will be discontinued. Foody said Actional knows that customers may only
need
certain components for their platforms and is prepared to offer
customers
either the original Actional components, or the Westbridge security
software
if customers do not wish to purchase both.


The engineer also knows that SOA composites, or “fabrics” are unlikely
to
feature products from one vendor. Actional is designed to fit into a
heterogeneous environment.


“The more heterogeneous it becomes, the more important it is for an
organization to have control over that diverse environment,” Foody told
internetnews.com. “With the SOA Command and Control suite, we’ve
made
explicit decisions around being able to make sure it can tie into a
wide
variety of SOA fabric components.”


In addition to the new funding, products and employees, the two
companies
bring together some of the most lucrative partners specialists of their
ilk
can find in the business, including Microsoft , BEA
Systems , IBM , HP
and
Tibco .


While smaller companies like Actional and Westbridge are grabbing the
headlines amid a flurry of consolidation, Microsoft, IBM and BEA have been
equally aggressive driving home their SOA and Web services management
platforms.

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