Software's Top 10 2005 Trends: #5 Message Aware Networking
Message Aware Networking sits in the midst of a kind of “no man’s land” in between networking and software. It looks a lot like networking because it requires high speed dedicated devices to process large numbers of messages, but it also looks a lot like software because it requires intelligent middleware to make content and context sensitive decisions.
With the number of messages proliferating rapidly thanks to the rapid adoption of loosely coupled applications that utilize XML-based messaging standards, the need for message aware networking products is growing rapidly. This need will only grow faster as companies begin to deploy composite applications and inter-enterprise applications.
Several start-ups have taken the lead in defining this space including Datapower, Sarvega, and Reactivity. While I am admittedly heavily biased, I’d have to say that Datapower is the clear leader for now thanks to its head start and deep technology base, but there will likely be many twists and turns in this space in the next few years.
Right now the hottest part of the Message Aware Networking space is the “security gateway” space in which edge devices basically scan incoming XML messages to make sure that they are kosher from a variety of perspectives. As the volume of messages increases, other aspects such as performance, routing, and management features will become increasingly important as well.
If it is true that the message is becoming the software, then over time message aware networking equipment will perhaps become as important if not more important than application servers. The high stakes involved raises the question as to which of the big elephants will make the first move to stake their claim to the space. Given that the space doesn’t fall cleanly into either the networking camp or the software camp there’s an opportunity for either side to make a move. On the networking side, you have Cisco and Juniper being the most likely candidates while on the software side you have IBM and Microsoft. The interesting thing to consider is that IBM and Microsoft have both had very cordial relationships with Cisco to date, but if either of these companies were to make an aggressive move into message aware networking (which I believe they must do) one would suspect that their relationships with Cisco could quickly turn a bit chilly.
Whatever the case, 2005 should see increasing adoption and acceptance of message aware networking as well as at least some preliminary moves by the elephants, who can’t afford to sit idly by and watch this potentially huge space get claimed by someone else.
For a complete list of Software's Top 10 2005 trends click here.
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