By now most big enterprise customers have had their SOA "aha!" experience. They get it, they want it, and they're on the prowl for a complete technology portfolio that will give it to them.
It should be no surprise, then, that Web services and SOA pure-plays have become hot property. The latest to be snapped up is Web services networking company Blue Titan, whose purchase by SOA Software was announced Monday. For those keeping count, that's four major SOA acquisitions in the past seven months, with IBM buying DataPower, Mercury snatching up Systinet, and Progress Software grabbing Actional.
Why did Blue Titan decide to sell? Former CTO Frank Martinez, now executive vice president at SOA Software, cited a crucial reason: market evolution.
"There's a definite increase in demand for a broader set of capabilities [for] service-oriented infrastructure," he said. "We're seeing an avalanche of multipart RFPs."
Blue Titan and SOA together can respond to those RFPs in ways they couldn't as stand-alone entities.
With Blue Titan, SOA Software can now offer SOA security, governance, management, and the mediation provided by Blue Titan Network Director, which smoothens runtime interactions among heterogeneous services. SOA Software's professional services division, still a major source of revenue for the company, will no doubt welcome the addition.
"What we've tried to do very aggressively is build a very large product stack," said Paul Gigg, SOA Software's president and CEO. "Corporations are going to require this as they become more sophisticated [and] start very large-scale deployments."
SOA Software does not intend to go head-to-head with major stack vendors BEA, IBM, or Oracle. Instead, it will partner with ESB (enterprise service bus) or messaging infrastructure providers, delivering solutions the big guys lack, according to SOA Executive Vice President Roberto Medrano.
Anne Thomas Manes, a vice president at the Burton Group, said she thinks the acquisition puts SOA Software in a stronger position, since the company's previous mediation solution was "not really competitive" with those from AmberPoint and Actional.
Blue Titan's Network Director, by contrast, is "top notch" in its ability to intermediate between systems of varying sophistication. For example, Manes said, Blue Titan supports bleeding-edge Web services standards such as WS-Policy and WS-ReliableMessaging, but also communicates between systems that don't use those nascent standards.
"You can have a system that doesn't speak WS-ReliableMessaging talking to one that does, and it will intermediate" between the two, Manes said.
Those kinds of runtime connections are crucial to SOA success. But so are smart, experienced consultants and system integrators, she added.
More acquisitions or partnerships involving SOA and Web services pure-plays are inevitable, as companies try to assemble a matched set of SOA technology solutions. However, knowing what to do with the tower of products once you've built it is another matter.