Progress Takes Actional


Progress Software has agreed to acquire Web services management
vendor Actional Corporation for $32 million in cash and stock.


Actional makes software that manages the flow of applications distributed in
a service-oriented architecture (SOA) .


Progress plans to pair Actional’s Looking Glass software engine with the
enterprise service bus (ESB) software from its Sonic Software company.
Sonic’s ESB exchanges services in an SOA.


Sonic makes a raft of other software infrastructure products, including an
SOA suite, XML server and a database service. But the Bedford, Mass.,
company was lacking a comprehensive way to manage Web services in SOAs.

Actional was the answer, said Sonic President Greg O’Connor on a conference
call today.


“People have been building SOA-based products but running into problems
deploying them,” O’Connor said. “[They] need the visibility to see where
problems are, drill in and fix the problems.”


Without prompting, Looking Glass detects and monitors business transactions
as they flow across a variety of application servers, databases and network
appliances that support an SOA. The software maps and monitors each step,
corralling usage and performance metrics to ensure smooth operation and
maintenance.


Actional also makes SOAPstation, software that provides policy-based
security and access control and service level agreement (SLA) management and
enforcement. The software minimizes the impact of system changes.


O’Connor said the Actional and Sonic products can be used independently of
one another or combined to support the entire SOA lifecycle.


ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said the acquisition makes sense for both
companies.


For one, Progress is a safe haven for Actional, which was struggling to grow
revenues and customer base as a standalone vendor in a market that includes
IBM, CA, HP and other independent vendors like Amberpoint and SOA Software.


“From the point of view of Progress/Sonic, adding the SOA management
capabilities rounds out the Sonic ESB product into a suite that more
completely addresses the infrastructure requirements of SOA,” Bloomberg
said.


Sonic does seems well positioned to compete with larger vendors.


In addition to the Sonic and Actional lines, Progress provides an event
stream processing (ESP) platform for improving business processes in an SOA.


Moreover, the company will be able to help customers incorporate mainframe
applications within their SOA environments when it closes its bid for
NEON Systems.


The bid is the latest example of a company filling out its portfolio with
infrastructure software that can manage the mass of applications generated
in a distributed computing environment.


Earlier this year, Mercury Interactive moved to acquire
Systinet to marshal its own SOA management efforts.

Systinet makes registry and governance software to help corporate employees locate Web services and comply with federal information regulations.


With Systinet and now Actional being tucked into other companies, the SOA
management space is a little tighter. Bloomberg expects consolidation to
continue in 2006, as larger companies find it easier to buy SOA governance
than build it.

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