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Forrester calls us SOA and Web Services Management. I like Forrester, they ranked us quite well.
I was re-listening to a David Linthicum EBizQ SOA Visionary podcast of an interview with Actional's very own Julianna Cammarano. Julianna makes a point - people don't think they need SOA Management until they're in production. This is unfortunately a very true customer sentiment that, I must admit, frustrates me to no end.
I think this perception of not needing SOA Management until services are "being used for real" is due to the poor choice of descriptor - Management.
Is Actional a management solution?
Don't answer! First think. Is a Cisco router a management solution?
Why not? It just manages network traffic.
Well, if your router fails, you'll know immediately that it's not management. In my own personal definition, management is something that if it goes away, there isn't an impact unless there is some other precipitating crisis. (By the way, that definition ironically works for both software and executive management.)
SOA What? First off, Actional is, in part, a management solution. That's part of the deal.
Where does the non-management-management stuff come into play?
Well, at a basic level, many customers use their "management" solution for versioning services. It would kinda stink to have that fail mid-upgrade. In this simple use case, the management layer is used for routing and transformation. This is "in the line of fire" stuff that the application depends upon for successful operations.
At a more advanced level, customers are using Actional for tracking their business as it relates to their use of SOA. Doing advanced SOA security, prioritization, message routing, and real-time data mining of their business processes based upon business policies. Let me say that again - business policies upon which the business depends for successful and compliant operations are implemented in the Actional layer. Failure of those processes can lead to bad-decisions, fines or jail time, and possibly even insolvency.
And, for those who are paying attention this far in the post... look at the words I just used. Security. Prioritization. Routing. It's no wonder the comparison with Cisco is close to mind as I think about what the Actional stuff really should be called.
A good take home here is obvious. If you're in the line-of-fire, you've gotta be enterprise class, and that means:
When you evaluate solutions, make sure those criteria are top of mind. And, vendors who try to get you to buy without testing should put you on your guard.
As for the semantics... Are we management, or are we something else? An old truism comes to mind.
I don't care what you call me, as long as you don't call me late for dinner.
Professionally, it's the same. I don't care what you call Actional, as long as you keep ranking us number one.
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