Novell's Extend, like Iona's XMLBus and BEA's WebLogic, automatically generates Web-based test clients for deployed Web services. All products we tested can build both Web- and Java-based clients, but the others require that this process be performed manually. The Web-based test clients are an excellent resource for quickly testing a Web service for correctness of deployment and functionality--one we used in every case we could to test our echoInt Web service after deployment to ensure the service was functional.
In addition to real-time monitoring of the application server via the management GUI, Extend provides a modularized management system for multiple instances of Extend servers, regardless of where they are physically deployed. Unlike those of its competitors, Extend's console is fully interactive--you can issue commands to the application server via the console--great for CLI (command-line interface) jocks or quick management that does not require a GUI console.
When a Web service is deployed to a cluster it is automatically deployed to all servers within that cluster. This feature, which was not available in most of the other products we tested, is enabled by Extend's use of a database as its repository as opposed to a file-based system. Novell does not currently support a file-based repository, but will offer this capability in a future release. The other products we tested support some type of scripting solution, usually Ant-based, to replicate applications across servers, even in a cluster. Systinet's product can propagate security across servers automatically, but still requires manual replication of applications.
Although we found Extend's support of XML security standards subpar, with no direct support for XML-Sig or XML-Encryption, like all the products in our review Extend does support both client and server certificates using SSL and offers a unique feature: built-in support for several leading SSL-acceleration products, such as those from Rainbow Technologies and nCipher.
Novell's Web services strategy is comprehensive and includes the ability to package Web services run time within a deployable J2EE standard archive for a complete package that can be deployed to BEA's WebLogic, IBM's WebSphere and Apache's Tomcat and, of course, Novell's own application server, Extend 4.0. Although the company would prefer that you deploy to Extend, Novell has taken care to ensure flexibility in its architecture, letting you build a best-of-breed environment for your Web services initiatives. This move puts Novell in line with the pure Web services platforms, which care little about what application server an engine is contained within and focus more on providing a comprehensive Web services suite.
Novell Extend Application Server 4.0 (including Novell Extend Workbench 4.1 and jBroker Web 2.1, $500 per seat. Novell, (888) 321-4272, (781) 464-8000. www.novell.com