XML Gateways are a core component of SOA deployments. SOA testers, developers, architect are intimately familiar with XML Gateways as a central component for enabling XML Security, Integration, Identity and Management.
Recently, Cisco published End-of-Life (EOL) and End-of-Sale (EOS) notices to its customer base for the Cisco ACE XML Gateway.
Forum Systems pioneered the XML Gateway Appliance space in 2001 with the launch of its product Forum Sentry. A number of vendors followed this path by morphing their existing technologies to the XML Gateway Appliance space. Reactivity, the company Cisco acquired for a $135M in 2007 was one such company that changed direction to enter this space.
In 2003, Network Computing published a bake-off between vendors in XML Gateway space. Reactivity (acquired by Cisco), DataPower (acquired by IBM) and a number of other vendors including Forum Systems, Westbridge, Verisgn were also a part of the assessment. Looking back at this vendor assessment, one can see a clear trend: companies that changed their directions to come after the pioneer (Forum Systems) eventually gave up on the space.
Although the strategy of a company changing direction to follow a viable market seems like a good idea at that time, it has profound implications in the future. When a product is not built ground-up to address a specific market, architectural comprises ensue that result in the demise of such products in the future. The key factor in picking any technology solution is to identify the leaders and the followers.
New vendors continue to follow the leader in the XML Gateway space, by changing their ESB products to look like XML Gateways, however, they lack the innovation and intellectual property established by the leader. See fore example, Forum System Issued Patent 7,516,333 for XML Security Gateway.
As corporations replace their XML Gateway from Cisco ACE or any other non-patented product, they should consider the following points:
- Select a patented product or face replacement issues as the patents are enforced.
- Pick an XML Gateway and not a product that is like an ESB/Application server.
- Demand an Independent Security Assessment on the ENTIRE XML Gateway.
- Validate feature/function availability and innovation leadership.
- Demand flexible replacement costs and options.