Amberpoint: An Eye Inside
Customers of AmberPoint—which, like Actional, dabbled in other software before focusing on the burgeoning Web services market—say the Oakland, Calif., firm's monitoring and management tools give them a more comprehensive look into their company's operations than ever before.
Joe Cochran, software development manager for Aimbridge, an Englewood, Colo.-based marketer of auto loan and insurance products, wanted the ability to peer into his new Web services in 2003, when his firm extended applications to credit union partners.
While evaluating products, Cochran zeroed in on AmberPoint's Service Level Management tool, a piece of the SOA Management System. He says the graphical user interface was easy to navigate and the portal could be customized to focus on particular elements of the services, such as quality assurance.
On top of that, AmberPoint's alerting feature was a bonus, he says: For instance, if a service goes down for more than five seconds, the program automatically notifies the administrator via e-mail. "In the old system, we didn't find those problems," he says. "The users would have to tell us, because they were the only ones who could see it."
While Aimbridge hasn't done a formal return on investment analysis, Cochran says automating the management functions allowed the firm to cut back one staffer, saving up to $100,000 a year.
For Carmen Suarez, systems support manager for Miami-Dade County (Fla.), AmberPoint was a sight for sore eyes. In spring of 2004, the county began a self-service initiative by pushing county services such as tax assessments and payments onto the Internet to give residents easier access. But during the initial stages, Suarez says she was unable to troubleshoot any problems, like slowdowns in data flows between her mainframe and the distributed platform.
"I thought, 'I'm running blind,'" she says. "I had no way to measure performance, monitor [service-level agreements] and see how these integrations were tying together." AmberPoint's tools allowed Suarez to view Web services traffic from end to end, giving her the visibility she lacked before plugging in the software.
AmberPoint provided another set of eyes for Steve Mahoney, head of knowledge integration and application program interface for Reuters, the business and financial publisher.
When the global publisher began building Reuters Knowledge, a buy-side analysis program for portfolio managers and analysts, in 2002, Mahoney was charged with pulling together disparate applications in data centers from London to St. Louis. Then Reuters bought Multex, an investment information provider, in 2003, and Mahoney had to mix in Multex's proprietary Web services technology.
The following year, he and his team opted to standardize their framework and use a third-party software tool to monitor performance. "What I liked about AmberPoint is the ability to trace through the Web services environment what call went wrong, where, in what application level, so you could go into the individual server and fix it," Mahoney says.
He adds that the company plans to use AmberPoint's management suite in its newest evolution, Reuters Knowledge for Wealth Managers, due out in 2007.
AmberPoint's first 20 or so employees came from Forte Software, an application server software maker acquired in 1999 by Sun Microsystems, according to Ed Horst, vice president of marketing.
Today, the company's self-styled specialty is "SOA visibility, management and security solutions"—not just Web services—meaning it's aiming for a broader market segment than just those businesses sharing Web-based applications.