Saturday, July 26, 2003

Blue Titan in WSM Fabric Space

I had heard of Blue Titan from their web advertisements but had lumped them into the 'web service management' space along with AmberPoint and friends. Their more recent product literature describes their offering in the 'web service fabric' space - which really is a distinct category.

According to the Blue Titan literature, the 'fabric' facilitates the following functions:
- Register web services
- Associate policies with services (security, management & monitoring)
- propagate policies to endpoints for enforcement
- Capture endpoint runtime execution information, report data
- Feed statistics from endpoints back into the process, repeat as needed

Now, I haven't used the product - but it looks like it sits on top of Web Logic and leverages an Oracle database. This means that it is more than just 'a set of libraries'. It has a library that a service designer would incorporate into their services and it has servers. It is a full blown closed-loop web service management enforcement product.

So, why would they call it a 'fabric'? My best guess is that unlike other products the service management substrate must be built into the software that you are building. It is not an add-on (servlet filter) or a bump on the network (promiscuous sniffer). By providing a library, they are able not only to listen and monitor, but also to control and resolve. Assuming I got the product concept right - it sounds like a good idea.

This raises an interesting question, "what is a service fabric?" I'll attempt to answer that later, for now I think it is safe to say that a fabric must be integrated into the code / services that the developer is writing. It isn't a passive bump or a container. It is an integrated library. Can the library depend on other well known servers / services (or must it be fully encapsulated)? In my opinion the answer is that it can (and often will) have outside dependencies that will be described via WSDL.

For now, I am going to call the Blue Titan offering a 'fabric based web service management platform'. This will distinguish them from the passive bumps and those that monitor via the run-time container (vm, app server, etc.). It is also clear that 'web service fabric' is too open-ended. The Blue Titan offering has some overlap with the TME GAIA, but I would not consider the two direct competitors.

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