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IBM Puts Weight Behind Web Services Security

New appliances from IBM's Datapower unit could make it easier to secure Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) environments

IBM today launched three new appliances that might just help enterprises jump over the biggest hurdle in deploying Web services: security.

Datapower, the security gateway vendor IBM acquired in October, unveiled three new products for Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) environments: WebSphere DataPower XS40 XML Security Gateway, which performs message-level Web services security functions; the WebSphere DataPower XI50 Integration Device, which provides APIs to speed SOA deployment; and the WebSphere DataPower XA35 XML Accelerator, which handles XML processing to lighten the server's workload.

The appliances could help enterprises in their struggle to deploy SOA, which offers the potential to link applications across organizations but has been slowed by a lack of adequate security controls and too many administrative demands, observers say.

"The SOA environment can be quite complex, so configuring applications can be difficult and time consuming,” notes Ronald Schmelzer, a senior analyst with market research firm ZapThink.

Traditionally, application logic has been stored in central locations, such as servers and database management systems. “Increasingly, companies are building SOA applications with appliances -- small devices that can be easily slipped into their networks,” says Eugene Kuznetsov, director of product management for IBM's SOA appliances. Appliances can take care of specific functions, such as performing security checks or accelerating XML transactions, to simplify and speed SOA deployment, he observes. IBM also claims that SOA apps run 10 times faster when deployed on special-purpose hardware.

IBM is far from being the only player in the emerging market for SOA security appliances. Level 7 Technologies, Reactivity, Cisco Systems, F5 Networks, and SonicWall are among a group of vendors with products on the market or on the drawing board.

Datapower's IBM XS40 XML Security Gateway, which carries the IBM logo, examines messages from various sources -- including Web transactions, RFID systems, and wireless devices -- and then validates, encrypts, signs, and authenticates transactions via industry standards like XML and WS-Security. The appliance offers firewall-like functionality and provides access controls that help enterprises restrict access to sensitive information. It costs $35,000 and up, depending on configuration.

— Paul Korzeniowski, contributing writer, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this story

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
  • F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV)
  • DataPower Technology Inc.
  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
  • Reactivity Inc.
  • SonicWall Inc. (Nasdaq: SNWL)
  • ZapThink LLC
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