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Web services management heats up

IBM, Computer Associates and Talking Blocks follow up on a Hewlett-Packard standards effort that tracks the performance of Web services applications.

The development of a Web services management standard continued to move forward, in a technology area fast becoming the next major competitive race among Web services providers.

Computer Associates International, IBM and Web services management start-up Talking Blocks last Thursday submitted a technical specification to the standards group Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) for consideration as an eventual industry standard. The publication of the new specification is slated to be officially announced next week.

The goal of the Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) technical committee at OASIS is to write a technical blueprint for products that track the performance of applications written according to Web services standards. The standard, due in January of next year, will ensure that Web services management wares from different companies will interoperate. The WSDM technical committee is slated to meet in two weeks to discuss the standard.

Like other Web services standards, however, progression of the management specification is complicated by .

Hewlett-Packard, which competes directly with IBM and CA in systems management, submitted its own specification, or framework, for Web services management to OASIS in July. Further complicating matters, HP announced in early September that it planned to acquire Talking Blocks, which had already teamed up with HP foes IBM and CA in standards. HP intends to use the Talking Blocks software as the basis for its Web services management product line.

Talking Blocks former CTO Mark Potts played down any conflict among the software management heavyweights, despite the apparently competing standards submissions for Web services management.

"We have all the parties in place. We expect one standard to come out of it," said Potts in a conference call announcing HP's acquisition of Talking Blocks earlier this month.

Even before finalization of a standard, competition among vendors around Web services management is heating up.

Weeks before HP announced plans to acquire Talking Blocks, CA quietly purchased Adjoin, another Web services management company. Several other start-ups, including Actional, AmberPoint and Confluent have also introduced Web services management products.

Analysts said that investment in the development of Web services management products reflects a growing need among businesses for tools that can spot Web services glitches and ensure that applications run according to predefined performance goals.