Enterprise Software

Actional Diagnostics: A better view into services integrity

Progress Software's Actional Diagnostics is a standalone quality and validation desktop product that allows developers to build and test XML-based services. It also includes a new feature called Application X-Ray, which lets developers see what happens inside their service.

 

This is a guest post from Dana Gardner of TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet. You can follow Dana on his ZDNet blog BriefingsDirect, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Progress Software has leveraged technology from recently acquired Mindreef's SOAPscope to help detect and mend service integrity issues early in the software development cycle.

The Bedford, Mass. company last week announced the development of Progress Actional Diagnostics. This standalone quality and validation desktop product allows developers to build and test XML-based services, including SOAP, REST, and POX. Once services are identified for use, developers can inspect, invoke, test, and create simulations for prototyping and problem solving. [Disclosure: Progress is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Progress also last week held its annual analyst conference in Boston, and it was clear from the presentations that the plucky company is expanding its role and its value to the business solutions level.

As a major OEM provider to other software makers, the Progress brand has often played second fiddle to other brands in the Progress stable (some from acquisitions), such as Sonic, Actional, Apama, DataDirect, IONA, and FUSE. But the company is working to make Progress more identifiable, especially at a business level.

Progress, TIBCO and Sofware AG are the remaining second-tier software infrastructure providers, following a decade-long acquisitions spree and consolidation period.

As such Progress, with annual revenues in the $500 million range, is also setting itself up to move from SOA and SaaS support to take those capabilities and solutions (and OEM model) to the cloud model. Among a slew of glowing customer testimonials at the conference last week, EMC showed how a significant portion of its burgeoning cloud offerings that are powered by Progress infrastructure products.

I think we can expect more love between EMC and Progress, as well as more Progress solutions (in modular, best of breed or larger holistic deployments) finding a place under the hood of more cloud offerings. That will be double apparant as the larger players like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft create their own clouds. We're heading into some serius channel conflicts as these clouds compete with a rapidly fracturing market.

I was also impressed with the OSGi support that Progress is bringing to market, something that should appeal to many developers and architects alike.

Back on the product news, Actional Diagnostics includes a new feature called Application X-Ray, which allows developers to see what happens inside their service. For example, they can see how downstream services are being used, what messages are sent on queues, details of Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) invocations, database queries, and other relevant interdependencies along their transaction path.

This helps them identify why tests have failed or why services are not performing as designed, so that a service can be reengineered as needed before it moves to production.

In addition, load checking lets users test the performance and scalability of services before they are delivered to a performance testing team. Developers can check dozens of simultaneous threads or users per service, monitor CPU utilization and how much Java VM is being used. These are the kinds of integrity backstops that will be in high demand in the cloud and for PaaS buildouts.

Actional Diagnostics is currently in beta testing with customers and will soon be available as a free download. Developers interested in being sent an alert when the software download is available can register at: http://www.progress.com/web/global/alert-actional-diagnostics/index.ssp.

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