Layer 7 plans move into "ESB Lite" market

The security gateway vendor is expanding into software, but can it avoid treading on its partners' toes?

October 12, 2007

2 Min Read
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SOA security gateway vendor Layer 7 Technologies has outlined a strategy to move into the ESB (enterprise service bus) space, through what it calls an "ESB lite." It isn't launching specific ESB products now, but says that its existing hardware and software can replace much ESB functionality and that it plans to add more in the future. It is also targeting Web services management, which it calls runtime governance.

There is already a wide overlap between different types of SOA products, so Layer 7's claim is accurate. Standalone XML security gateways are also becoming the first casualty of the ongoing SOA market consolidation, as they have relatively little unique functionality: Their core function is as an XML firewall, a market in which they face increasing competition from networking players like Cisco, Juniper and F5 and which traditional firewall vendors are also to join. But the vendors are determined to avoid the product category's fate, and their diversification strategy looks like it could be successful.

In Layer 7's case, this means following in the footsteps of Reactivity and DataPower, which had expanded into Web services management before they were acquired by IBM and Cisco respectively. Web services management in turn offers features like XML routing and protocol mediation that allow some customers to get by without an ESB at all, especially if they're more focused on point-to-point Web services (as used in rich Internet applications) than SOA.

But Layer 7 isn't pursuing exactly the same strategy as Vordel, which announced a move into SOA governance last week. A lot of Layer 7's customers get to it through is partnerships with major ESB vendors like BEA and TIBCO, and it won't want to alienate these by moving too far up the stack into service orchestration and composite application development. This could soon make its biggest competitor AmberPoint, the Web services management vendor that sells through many of the same partners, while Vordel will compete more with standalone management players like Actional and SOA Software.

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