Experiencing SOA Expressway – a software appliance from Intel
You never know when you will run into a (pleasant) surprise when you work with a great partner. In my role with SAP’s Co-innovation Lab (COIL), I worked very closely with Intel in many fronts and I thought I know the company well, but I was still a bit surprised when they first told me they had a product called SOA Expressway – a software appliance designed to simplify, accelerate, and secure the Enterprise SOA architecture. Though I worked in the SOA area for quite a few years already, I simply didn’t think about something like that coming from Intel.
Actually, SOA Expressway is not really something new. The core of the appliance is at least a decade old and is mainly based on Intel’s acquisition of Sarvega in 2005. According to Intel, the appliance covers not only SOA runtime management, it can also be used as a security gateway, a Web 2.0 security proxy, a simple ESB ramp-on, and a SaaS governance solution. The best way to get a quick overview of the product is to listen to Blake Dournaee, the appliance’s product manager here or to download their data sheet here.
I think it’s fair to say that SAP has taken SOA very seriously and has baked it into all the latest releases of our solutions. In application level, thousands of enterprise Web services are released as part of our Business Suite; in the infrastructural level, NetWeaver offers many tools for composing and managing Web services. On top of that, SAP’s Enterprise Architecture Framework offers a well-defined process to help our customers adopt SOA.
However, we understand that there may be many reasons that a customer may still need to use tools from other vendors to manage their SOA assets, and as a matter of fact COIL has worked with quite a few of our partners in the SOA runtime management space and published SOA Management – Solutions from SAP Co-Innovation Lab on how to integrate a partner solution with an SAP landscape and how such solution performs.
COIL and Intel did a good exercise together to figure out what’s the best way for a SAP customer to use the Intel appliance for managing SAP enterprise Web services, and to validate how the appliance may impact the perform of a SAP application when it’s used to manage Web service policies. Intel sent us a 64-bit version of the SOA Expressway 2.3 for RedHat Enterprise Linux AS5, preinstalled in a server with Dual Intel X5570 Xeon Processors, 16 GB RAM, 64 GB solid-state disk drive, we put it into a SAP landscape consisting of an application running on NetWeaver Portal, Composition Environment, and an emulated ECC backend which provides a set of enterprise Web services. We used the appliance to do a few things:
- Load balance traffic to the SAP backend
- SSL termination to the backend
- Enforce policies for the SAP enterprise web services
It only took us a few hours to integrate the Intel appliance into the SAP landscape. Once the landscape is functioning as expected, we put some measurable load on the SAP application use HP Load Runner to gauge the performance impact by comparing the results with and without the SOA Express appliance in place.
The white paper we just published tells you all the details of the landscape, the test scenarios, and the test results. What I can share you here is that no performance degradation with the Intel SOA Expressway appliance was detected in our response-time tests, and from a 6-plus-hour stress test no detectable latency was added by the appliance while performing policy enforcement for a group of SAP enterprise services.