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Start-ups target Web services niche

Actional and AmberPoint are touting new products that manage Web services applications, as larger players look to enter the nascent market.

Start-ups Actional and AmberPoint are touting new products that manage Web services applications, as larger players look to enter the nascent market.

Web services management products give businesses tools for spotting problems and ensuring the performance of applications that follow a set of industry standards called Web services. Several smaller companies have already established themselves in this niche.

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But companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates International, which already have a substantial customer base for management products, are looking to expand into Web services.

Actional on Monday announced that a new version of its suite of management applications will be available in November. Actional 5.0 will include SoapStation Edge, an XML (Extensible Markup Language) firewall that can securely filter and route network traffic based on the contents of XML messages.

Actional 5.0 offers a portal that can generate and present statistics on a Web services application's performance. The company said it also comes with "self healing" capabilities that are designed to ensure adequate application performance by automating tasks such as balancing the processing load between servers.

Actional competitor AmberPoint also on Monday introduced its latest product, Exception Manager. The new software monitors business transactions over Web services networks to spot system errors or data inconsistencies. The application allows administrators to set up rules for handling the problems to speed up the troubleshooting process, according to AmberPoint executives.

Actional and AmberPoint are among a growing number of companies targeting Web services management. CA earlier this year said it will ship an add-on product for its Unicenter systems management software that's designed to monitor the performance of Web services applications. CA said its Web Services Distributed Management application will be available by the end of the year. The product will include some software CA gained when it acquired Web services management start-up Adjoin earlier this year.

HP, too, recently purchased a Web services management start-up to help accelerate its entry into the market. In September, HP said it would acquire Talking Blocks and use its software as the foundation for its Web services product line, which is expected for commercial release later this year.