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Sarvega brings routing to XML

The start-up wants networks to move information faster.

Start-up Sarvega is trying to bring the Internet networking model to the world of XML and Web services.

The four-year-old company has developed what it calls an "XML router," a device that can look at the contents of a message using the Extensible Markup Language and send it to the appropriate point on a network. Sarvega plans to announce the device, XML Context Router, at the Supercomm networking conference next week.

The XML router is meant to complement the IP routers and switches that carry the streams of data traffic across the Internet. While traditional routers examine networking protocol information, Sarvega's XML Context Router hardware is designed to make routing decisions based on the information being transmitted in an XML-based application. For example, a financial services application could use an XML router to move trading information between different parties based on the type or size of a transaction.

The main benefit of the dedicated device is scale, company executives said. Business applications are increasingly using XML documents and XML-based protocols called Web services to automatically exchange information between applications over the Internet.

But Web services applications that span different companies typically require system administrators to manually set up connections through an Internet firewall. An XML router, by contrast, can automatically route information to another point, allowing a company to eliminate point-to-point connections between business partners' networks, said Christopher Darby, president and CEO of Sarvega.

Once businesses are running several XML-based applications, the need for application-level routing will become increasingly important, Darby said. The XML Context Router device also provides reliable delivery of XML messages.

The device will appeal primarily to networks of trading partners that have invested in Web services standards to exchange information and want the quick performance a hardware device provides, said Tom Rhinelander, an analyst at research company New Rowley Group.

"You can do all of this to some degree by cobbling together existing pieces of software," Rhinelander said. "Whether you go with this kind of hardware really depends on what kind of response you demand from your system."

Sarvega is targeting the XML Context Router device at telecommunications service providers and large corporations that use XML and Web services extensively. Sarvega also sells an XML security gateway aimed at smaller organizations with fewer Web services applications. Sarvega sells XML devices that speed up XML processing as well.

The company is testing XML Context Router with two of its customers and says the product should be available in September. Pricing for an individual device is $45,000; the company is working on a volume discount plan.