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February 10, 2010updated 19 Aug 2016 10:05am

War of words in the SOA management space

You may not think that there would be a lot to get worked up about in the relative niche of services oriented architecture (SOA) management and governance. You'd be wrong. Oracle's acquisition this week of SOA management player AmberPoint has put

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You may not think that there would be a lot to get worked up about in the relative niche of services oriented architecture (SOA) management and governance. You’d be wrong. Oracle’s acquisition this week of SOA management player AmberPoint has put the proverbial cat amongst the web services pigeons.

Witness A for the defence is Oracle’s Thomas Kurian, EVP of product development, who explained the acquisition of AmberPoint thus: “AmberPoint and Oracle share a vision of providing customers with comprehensive SOA management capabilities that support modern IT environments and are also complete, open, and integrated.”

“We expect the addition of AmberPoint’s products to Oracle Fusion Middleware SOA Suite will provide stronger end-to-end governance,” Kurian said, “that allows customers to manage the entire lifecycle of SOA-based solutions, providing visibility and management across heterogeneous environments.”

But for the prosecution came comment from AmberPoint rival SOA Software – or at least I’ve always considered the firm a competitor. And if it wasn’t a competitor, you have to ask why it would be so keen to make a comment on Oracle’s acquisition.

Anyway, the firm sent me the following prepared comment: “AmberPoint was not a direct competitor for SOA Software. SOA Software is a leading provider of unified SOA and Cloud Services Governance products that enable organizations to successfully plan, build and run cloud and enterprise services.”

It added: “AmberPoint only competed with the Service Manager product, and did not provide any form of unified governance automation solution. AmberPoint did announce in December their new AmberPoint Governance System but this was a free give-away, and was never intended to be a legitimate competitor.”

Although later in the comment, it does list as one of the good things to flow from the deal that, “In summary, this acquisition will have a positive impact for SOA Software. It will help bolster our position as we continue to deliver value to our customers; our partners will be key for us; the product roadmap between Oracle and AmberPoint will take time to mature; their people will be distracted; and it takes a niche competitor out of our space.”

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SOA Software was not the only one with something to say about the acquisition of AmberPoint. Witness B for the prosecution came Progress Software’s Dan Foody, VP of product management, Enterprise Business Solutions, who had this to say: “This acquisition clearly validates that Business Transaction Management (BTM) is a critical requirement for any organisation. Oracle bought AmberPoint to fill a BTM hole in their portfolio but unfortunately, AmberPoint’s core strength is SOA Governance, not BTM.”

Fair’s fair?

To be fair, Oracle didn’t say AmberPoint’s core strength is BTM. It said it does SOA management. But it did say that, “AmberPoint’s solutions help organizations diagnose and resolve issues in application performance and business transactions… AmberPoint’s SOA management products further extend Oracle Fusion Middleware’s… SOA capabilities including Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle SOA Governance and Oracle Enterprise Manager accelerating the resolution of application performance and business transactions issues before the business is impacted.”

But Foody was unconvinced. “Unfortunately, since AmberPoint’s BTM solution is weak, Oracle still have a significant gap,” he said. “Clearly AP [AmberPoint] can’t be their complete solution, so Oracle will likely acquire someone else in the BTM space. So, the open question is why would someone want to use AP for BTM if Oracle are likely to acquire another company in this area?”

“Another challenge is that Oracle has proven that they are only focused on their own stack, whereas most customers have business transactions that span different applications and middleware – usually from multiple vendors. It’s unlikely that Oracle are going to change their stripes, so I’d be concerned if I were a customer that has any non-Oracle platforms in my business transactions.”

SOA Software went further still, arguing that AmberPoint was struggling, and far too niche: “Limited Market for AmberPoint: We believe that AmberPoint had significant difficulty moving forward in the market after their OEM relationships were terminated, and because of their reliance on service management or run time governance only,” the firm said in a statement. “SOA Software and AmberPoint started competing in the web services management area several years ago, and while AmberPoint remained solely in that market, SOA Software expanded its product portfolio, providing a Unified SOA Governance Automation solution, and a comprehensive suite of mainframe SOA products.”

Whether or not that is the case, I do feel I have to suggest that if you want to win points for having a broad solution, you probably don’t want to be comparing yourself to Oracle. Who looks too niche: SOA Software with its range of SOA management and governance technologies, or Oracle, with a vast portfolio of database, middleware and applications technologies?

Ps. If you’re interested in business transaction management (BTM), you may also want to take a look at OpTier and Precise. Another company that I’ve not actually met or looked at in the BTM space (as opposed to OpTier and Precise) is Correlsense.

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