Through the looking glass
Bolstered by SOAPstation, Actional’s platform helps build, secure, and manage a Web services network
I provisioned my Web services with SOAPstation as the new intermediary access point. The proxy server tools apply rules-based transformations to my SOAP streams both pre- and post-processing, so I built up complex, condition-based routing and performed tasks like raw XML message reformatting on the fly -- useful for bringing noncompliant messages into the fold.
SOAPStation’s interceptors hook customized processing into the message stream, and SOAPstation monitored the SOAP requests and responses for defined triggers and policies, such as fault conditions, time-based criteria, or custom-defined variables. Thanks to the interceptors, I could quickly manipulate my SOAP message in response to the triggers.
The easy-to-use wizard interface simplified rule customization and management, including defining policy conditions and building associations to necessary external specialized processors, such as an XSL transformation file.
I built security models for authenticating and authorizing access to my services with SOAPstation’s control features, a process simplified by the wizard-driven tools. Defining user- and role-based access was a cinch; SOAPstation supports LDAP and single sign-on mechanisms that would also be useful for mapping business partner and consumer-side access. SOAPstation’s mediation prowess can even transform disparate security protocols between a service’s requestor and provider, ensuring run-time compatibility among the security credentials passed across transactions.
SOAPstation’s flexible reporting facilities display both business usage and operation detail: I seamlessly documented QoS over time, a necessary step for establishing a base for SLAs.
I ran several impact assessments to test Looking Glass’s alerting and dependency features, bogging down the servers with internal, cycle-eating activity and increasing network traffic request patterns. In all cases, the multithreaded SOAPstation refused to flinch, maintaining accurate insight and alerts on network health.
Mapping Services Networks
SOAPstation’s power gives the Actional platform a strong foundation. Using Looking Glass Console, I culled data from across all Actional-managed Web services access points, whether monitored by SOAPstation or Active Agents, and could uniformly apply policies for security and routing.
The console’s interface is straightforward enough that business analysts -- rather than more costly programmers -- can use Looking Glass to realign objectives and re-route services for maximum business flexibility.
I remained impressed by Looking Glass’s well-delineated depiction of my services network and its communications, as well as the clear drill-down through a service’s ongoing operating metrics to see and act on throughput statistics, errors, and cumulative response latency.
All told, the Actional Web services platform of Looking Glass, SOAPstation, and Active Agents will ultimately reduce the effort and cost of ensuring application availability and security and simplify change management in a .Net services environment. Support for BEA WebLogic 8.1 was announced this month and support for IBM WebSphere is slated for year’s end, which means Looking Glass will soon shine even brighter.