Wishing for DataPower

What is the best way to appreciate the value of DataPower network appliances? Working on a SOA integration project where one is not available.
I’ve had an integration project recently: service-enablement of mainframe using WebSphere ESB. Services to be exposed using SOAP/HTTP(S) and WebSphere MQ. Other software we used: WSRR for governance and ITCAM for monitoring. What we did not use: DataPower. Our requirements included securing services in a situation where access must be provided to a diverse base of service consumers, both internal and external.
How DataPower appliance would’ve been handy! It is extremely fast XML appliance especially well prepared to deal with diverse security requirements.

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Cloudburst: My refrigerator runs WebSphere

IBM has pre-announced WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition and WebSphere Cloudburst appliance. I understand both will be officially made available during SOA Impact this week. WAS HE is application server in a VM image. Cloudburst is even better – it lets you have your application server in an appliance. Remember “my coffee maker runs Java?” Well, now your refrigerator runs WebSphere! WAS ND is pre-installed and you have an option to turn on Feature Packs with a simple checkbox. While at this time there are only 2 publicly available Feature Packs for WAS 7 (SCA and Web 2.0), another one is on its way (XML, which will include XML Schema 2.0, XPath 2.0 and XQuery 1.0). Profile creation is also included – just choose which profile you want. This way, after a few minutes of initial configuration you have a working installation of WAS ready to run.

This is a very interesting move by IBM, building on success of their DataPower line of appliances, which expanded from original 3 models to current 5 with recent addition of B2B gateway (XB60) and low-latency messaging appliance (XM70). Now, this new form factor comes to the application server world. Both WAS HE and Cloudburst will help dramatically reduce environment creation overhead. Now server environment can be stood up in a very short time.

While WAS HE and Cloudburst may be used together, this is not the only way. One could say that they represent opposite ends of the software “hardness” specter. Cloudburst is clearly out there on the “hard” side. But WAS HE is just a VM image, which may be brought online when needed. When no longer necessary, it can be shut down and left to wither on a backup shelf. This gives organizations ability to manage server capacity easier.

Cloudburst, advertised as a “private cloud” solution, can be deployed in more “mundane” implementations having nothing to do with clouds at all.

It would be interesting to see if this move leads to more appliance offerings. I’m thinking next in line will be widely used software running on WAS – Portal and Process Server.

UPDATE 5/6/2009: Feature Pack for XML is now available as an open beta here.