What to look for in a SOA app gateway

Agency managers who want to use application gateways to gain better visibility and control over service-oriented architectures should look for technologies that can provide consistent processing across multiple services and flexibility for changing policy requirements, according to a report by a Forrester Research.

SOA is fundamentally about software design practices, and not vendors and products. However, products can extend SOA benefits by making SOA services and SOA-based solutions easier to build, operate and manage, the report states.

The overlapping functionality of SOA specialty products — particularly Enterprise Service Buses, gateways, SOA security software and SOA management offerings — presents difficulties in drawing clear boundaries to indicate where one category stops and the next one starts, the report states.

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A SOA application gateway sits as a control point in the network path between a set of SOA services and the consumers that use the services. Security is a primary function, but a gateway can also enforce business polices and provide technical functions such as routing a service request to a correct version of a service.

"The Forrester Wave: SOA Application Gateways, Q4 2011," written by analysts Randy Heffner, Alex Cullen and Lauren Blackburn, evaluates nine vendors’ SOA application gateways.

“Layer 7 Technologies, Vordel, IBM, and Forum Systems lead the pack with broad and deep support for messaging styles, attack protection, trust enablement, and content transformation,” the report states. These four vendors have been in the gateway market for the longest time. In IBM’s case, the entry into the SOA gateway market was through the acquisition of the DataPower appliance. “All provide multiple hardware and software form factors, except IBM, which offers its gateway only as a hardware appliance,’ the report states.

“Intel provides a functionally strong, developer-focused product. Progress Software and Software AG both provide software-only gateways, each of which has a bundling strategy that provides a head start on broader SOA governance,” according to the report

“Tibco Software and Bee Ware round out the evaluation, and buyers may have focused reasons to buy either of these vendors’ products,” the report says. For example, Bee Ware, a French vendor, has the newest offering. "Although it centers narrowly on core SOA standards, its appliance is architected to simultaneously run SOA gateway, Web application firewall, and Web access management products." So IT administrators looking for a combined offering might be interested in this solution.

Tibco Software’s gateway is integrated into the company’s ActiveMatrix platform, which is a foundation for the Tibco Silver cloud platform. So users of Tibco Software might find this gateway worth considering, according to the report.

After examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, Forrester developed a comprehensive set of 45 criteria to evaluate and compare the vendors. To evaluate the vendors and their products against the set of criteria, Forrester analysts gathered details of product qualifications through a combination of lab evaluations, questionnaires, demonstrations and/or discussions with user references.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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