Beware of exaggerated and misleading integration claims to IBM products – the case of SOA Software/Akana and Solace Systems


You’ve probably heard the term “co-opetition” before.  In my mind, when two companies become partners, there is an implicit understanding that both will work together, i.e. join forces, to help each other become successful in the market place – “the sum is greater than its parts”.  However, sometimes, partnered companies have competing products and they will often find fighting each other to place their products at the same customers.  SOA Software, no longer an IBM partner, also competes against IBM with their legacy SOA Governance and more recent API Management products.  SOA Software does not have a hardware appliance (they offer a Virtual Machine image of their software that they themselves call “virtual appliance”), like IBM DataPower, however, they do integrate to it.  I was reading one of their whitepapers the other day titled “SOA and API Convergence – What It Means for IBM Customers”, and it left me with the impression that SOA Software and IBM had actually cooperated to create the integration between DataPower and SOA Software products.

To highlight what I mean, the whitepaper uses sentences such as:
– “SOA Software and IBM WebSphere DataPower offer a unified solution…”
– “IBM WebSphere DataPower offers a first class SOA and API gateway to host services managed and modelled by SOA Software…”
– “DataPower’s […] together with SOA Software, makes convergence on the IBM platform strategic, cost effective, and unified…”
– “…it [SOA Software’s solution] is fully integrated with the DataPower appliance…”
– “SOA Software’s SOA and API management solution partnered with the DataPower gateway appliance…”

Although these statements never explicitly claim any combined effort between IBM and SOA Software, they did leave me with the impression that the synergy between these two products was way more than just a plain integration.  Moreover, in their “Policy Manager for IBM WebSphere DataPower Installation Guide”, there is a table that indicates that their Policy Manager product is “certified” on IBM DataPower XI52.  And reading their website and their datasheet on DataPower left me with the same impression as well.

So, I decided to research this and to my surprise, I learned that IBM had never worked with SOA Software on their integration to DataPower.  All the claims and certifications they list in their literature are a result of their own development effort. In fact, IBM has not partnered with any third-party API Management vendor to officially integrate their solution with IBM DataPower appliances. The SOA Software integration to IBM DataPower is not a supported integration and IBM can change/modify/enhance/enrich the DataPower interface at anytime.  Only IBM’s API Management solution provides a highly optimized, integrated and most importantly a fully-supported solution with DataPower as the API gateway.

From co-opetition, we move to competition, where two companies have products with comparable capabilities that are basically substitutes of each other.  This is the case of Solace Systems. Last month, Solace Systems made an announcement about supporting IBM-based application infrastructures.  In it, Solace claimed “full interoperability and complete integration” with IBM DataPower appliances, WebSphere Application Server, IBM Integration Bus, and IBM MQ, however this is a one-sided claim by Solace since IBM did not participate in this endeavor.  Only IBM’s products provide a highly optimized, integrated and most importantly a fully supported solution.  IBM has never partnered with Solace Systems to officially integrate their solution with IBM products.

Solace also claimed “native integration” with DataPower via REST, one of the protocols DataPower supports.  This is hardly “native integration”; at best, it is just integration.  Any application can integrate to DataPower using REST.  They also claim “complete integration” with IBM Integration Bus and WebSphere Application Server via JMS and JCA in the container layer.  Again, not really “complete integration”, just integration via supported protocols in IIB and WAS.  Any application can integrate to IIB and WAS via JMS and JCA. And their connectivity to the Mainframe is all via IBM products, such as IIB, DataPower, MQ or z/OS Connect.

In addition, Solace announced support to MQ via their new Solace-to-MQ bridge. Solace has not licensed IBM technology, nor worked with IBM in any way in the development of this Solace-to-MQ bridge.  IBM MQ delivers transactionality, security, recoverability, reliability, high availability among other features out of the box.  How many of these do they offer in their recently announced Solace-to-MQ bridge?  Also, using this bridge will add an extra hop to your message path affecting performance.

IBM continues to be #1 in market share in the integration space.  Critical applications worldwide run on IBM connectivity products, such as DataPower, MQ, IIB, and WAS and they continue to be vital to running businesses. IBM continues to invest R&D into their connectivity products and supports more customers to process more messaging workload than any other enterprise messaging solution.

In summary, customers need to be aware that IBM has not worked with these vendors to co-develop any interfaces/integrations to DataPower and hence they are unsupported by IBM.  In general, a customer needs to be careful as to the accuracy of claims made by IBM competitors.  Always read the fine print and when in doubt reach out to IBM.



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  1. Why Solace is not good for an IBM MQ customer | WhyWebSphere Blog

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