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Univé Deploys AmberPoint SOA Management Tool

Univé untangles SOA interdependencies with a new breed of specialized management tools.

The promise of service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the ability to infinitely recombine software functions (services) to produce new business applications faster than the traditional software programming process. In the background, the services form intricate and extensive interdependencies in order to complete tasks. Given such a dynamic system, IT professionals are discovering that managing interdependencies is mandatory for success.

Amsterdam-based UVIT (US$2.83 billion in assets) faced this reality in late 2005 as its Univé division neared the rollout of a multiyear SOA conversion. "The dependencies were beginning to look like a big plate of spaghetti," says Erwin Kersten, SOA infrastructure architect for Univé. "We needed a management tool that provided us with organized visualizations of those dependencies and the quality of their interactions."

By mid-2006 Kersten had identified two viable solutions, Progress Software's (Bedford, Mass.) Actional and the SOA Management System from AmberPoint (Oakland, Calif.). "The market wasn't very large at the time," notes Kersten. "We wanted a tool that wouldn't interfere with our currently available SOA services or disrupt our established development processes. We selected AmberPoint because it was noninvasive."

While AmberPoint didn't require any hardware investments, Univé elected to deploy it on a Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows/Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) server. "Our SOA production environment is fully virtualized with VMWare [Palo Alto, Calif.], but it's our policy for management tools to reside on a physical server," explains Kersten, who adds that Univé has four data centers distributed throughout the Netherlands; the SOA deployment resides at its Zwolle headquarters. The company's LAN/WAN network runs a mixture of HP (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Dell (Round Rock, Texas) servers as well as a Unisys (Blue Bell, Pa.) mainframe.

According to Kersten, as soon as Univé installed AmberPoint in late 2006, the tool began collecting dependency information. "The product itself was easy to install," he says. But, "Because AmberPoint is a management tool, you're never really finished implementing it. In fact, the tool is most valuable when it is used and expanded every day."

AmberPoint immediately helped improve system stability, Kersten adds. "We initially deployed SOA at two data centers, a primary and a failover," he says. "Before AmberPoint, we had limited insight into how often failovers occurred. AmberPoint showed us which services were failing over so we could develop remedies."

The system also provides insight into millions of software interactions -- Univé's current SOA environment includes 96 .NET Web services. Hunting for a single bottleneck would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack, Kersten says. "With AmberPoint it takes us only a few minutes," he comments.

In addition, the tool has improved resource allocation. AmberPoint details SOA services and server utilization, according to Kersten. "AmberPoint provides us with usage and growth benchmarks, allowing us to anticipate hardware performance and capacity requirements," he explains.

On the back end, AmberPoint is being integrated with Univé's central enterprise management tool, Microsoft's Systems Center Operations Manager. This will permit Univé to drive out bottlenecks across all four data centers and throughout all systems -- not just SOA services, says Kersten. "Overall, AmberPoint is playing a critical role for us," he adds.

Univé (a division of Amsterdam-based UVIT; US$2.83 billion in total assets)

Lines of business:
Life and non-life

AmberPoint (Oakland, Calif.) SOA Management System

Manage millions of SOA interdependencies to promote success of enterprisewide initiative

Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio

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