AmberPoint, Microsoft partner on Web services

AmberPoint on Tuesday unveiled an abbreviated version of its Web services management software, AmberPoint Express, that will be distributed with the planned "Whidbey" version of the Microsoft's Visual Studio developer tool in 2004.

AmberPoint's product, which will be announced at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2003 (PDC) in Los Angeles this week, will be released to conference attendees for integration with the existing Visual Studio 2003 product.

The combination of Visual Studio Web services development capabilities and AmberPoint's management system is intended to enable development of Web services for business-critical use, according to AmberPoint.

"[AmberPoint Express is] a completely optimized user experience version for the developer so it provides performance monitoring, logging of Web service traffic, and the testing of that Web service as it's getting ready for production," said Ed Horst, AmberPoint vice president of marketing. AmberPoint Express also provides fault diagnosis, he said.

The product features capabilities that developers are frequently expected to provide but for which they are not given the tools, Horst said.

Microsoft applauded the integration.

"The AmberPoint tool clearly gives us not only a tool for designing and developing Web services but also for managing and operating [Web services]," said Prashan Sridharan, lead product manager for Visual Studio at Microsoft. Sridharan declined to comment on recent speculation that Microsoft was in the market to acquire a Web services management software vendor such as AmberPoint.

One analyst had a mixed opinion of the AmberPoint-Microsoft arrangement.

"By bundling the basic Web services management toolkit into Visual Studio .Net, Microsoft puts tools in the hands of developers," said Ted Schadler, principal analyst for software at Forrester Research Inc.

"On the downside, developers need the support of their operations staff in order to take advantage of the kinds of shared infrastructure services that AmberPoint's product delivers. And that means that ultimately the developer will have to work with the security and datacenter operations staff to implement an enterprise-scale solution," Schadler said in an e-mail response to questions.

AmberPoint does not expect to charge for AmberPoint Express but hopes to leverage it to woo customers to its higher level products such as AmberPoint Service Level Manager, Exception Manager, or Management Foundation, which offer features such as business content processing and service-level management.

AmberPoint at some point also plans to release a version of AmberPoint Express for Java developers.

AmberPoint, in a move similar to Actional's announcement on Monday, plans to announce on Tuesday enhanced integration between the Microsoft Operations Manager systems management software (MOM) and AmberPoint Web services management software. This is being done with an extension to AmberPoint's offerings called AmberPoint Management Pack for MOM 2000. Users of the Microsoft MOM 2000 system can have greater control over the operational health of Web services applications and optimize the business value of loosely coupled systems, according to AmberPoint.

Actional Corp. on Monday announced similar integration between its Looking Glass Web services management software and MOM.

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