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SOA Software adds pure-play string to its bow

Strengthens armoury

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On Monday 8 May, SOA Software (formerly Digital Evolution) announced its fourth acquisition in the last 20 months.

Blue Titan, which, like its new parent, is based in Los Angeles, is the latest and follows the earlier acquisitions of:

  • Flamenco Networks, whose technology is the basis of SOA Software's XML VPN product
  • Thought Digital, for its event-based reliable messaging technology
  • Merill Lynch's X4ML mainframe web services platform, which is now sold as the Service Oriented Legacy Architecture (SOLA) product.

This is a smart move by SOA Software, as part of the company's strategy to position itself as a leading pure-play service infrastructure vendor. Blue Titan, with its Network Director product, provides transport-independent messaging and mediation capabilities which complement SOA Software's service management, security and governance offerings (Service Manager and Registry).

This acqusition is about more than technology though. Blue Titan also brings some major blue-chip customers with significant SOA initiatives, including British American Tobacco, citigroup and Pfizer, where SOA Software will undoubtedly be looking to upsell given that the two companies had not worked together in joint accounts. It also brings a number of important partnerships, particularly IBM's WebSphere group - SOA Software already had relationships with Global Services and Tivoli - and SAP.

During discussions with SOA Software executive VP Roberto Medrano and VP of product marketing Ian Goldsmith about the acquisition, they explained that the company will continue to sell Network Director separately with a merged product at least a year away.

This does not come as much of a surprise, given the lack of any pre-existing partnership or joint customer deployments, and the need to focus their efforts on winning business. While I believe it is possible for the company to explain the benefits of its portfolio of offerings, the lack of a merged product will lead to some concerns from prospects, particularly the lack of a common management console and a unified policy management framework.

The acquisition of Blue Titan sees SOA Software squaring up to Progress Software, which, through the acquisitions of Actional for web services management and NEON Systems for legacy integration, offers a comparable set of capabilities based around Sonic's ESB. Both companies are positioning their offerings as alternatives to the service infrastructure offerings of the infrastructure heavyweights - BEA, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle - on the basis that they help customers avoid platform lock-in.

SOA Software will undoubtedly use the transport independence of Blue Titan's Network Director to attempt to differentiate itself from Progress with a similar premise - avoidance of ESB lock-in - as the vision the company outlined in discussions indicates: "Create the leading platform-independent SOA infrastructure solutions company."

With the aforementioned heavyweights investing heavily in their service infrastructure offerings, the SOA pure-plays have a tough fight on their hands — Systinet (acquired by Mercury Interactive) and Infravio, for example, have divested themselves of components of a broader service infrastructure offering to focus on their registry/repository technologies and SOA governance. With this acquisition, SOA Software has certainly strengthed its armoury.

As enterprises embark on their SOA initiatives, they would do well to include a pure-play or two on their list, if nothing else to keep the big players honest, and SOA Software has just increased its chances of inclusion.

Copyright © 2006 Macehiter Ward-Dutton

This article was originally published at IT-Analysis.com.

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