Yet another Terry Matthews company I recently visited is Solace Systems who provides products for service providers and large enterprise customers. The company is in the value-added services routing system business and in case you are wondering what this means it is simply adding intelligence to service provider networks so that application services can be provisioned and managed just like today’s network services. The goal is to allow service providers to get into the business of supplying a number of advanced services and not just dumb pipes.
So if you are looking for a more lucid explanation imagine the logic in an IBM Websphere or BEA WebLogic application being provided by you, the service provider.
The obvious question is whether the enterprise of today is ready to outsource application layer routing. Solace Systems executives tell me the service provider has followed the enterprise down the road to providing IP networks and then the path of providing VPN services. They think the intelligent XML-aware network is the next area of growth for service providers.
With the company’s solution you can provide trade settlement, inter-banking services, personalized IPTV, regulatory compliance, real-time tracking, real-time configurable content alerting and more. The point is you can eliminate expensive servers and middleware and instead collapse the above applications in a single purpose-built box. The company tells me their systems have orders of magnitude more throughput and less latency than the middleware approach.
Once the system is up and running a typical user could go to an interface and select certain purchase orders they would want routed to them or they could alternatively subscribe to certain kinds of news.
A growth area for the company is likely real-time messaging where latency management is becoming a huge issue. Obviously the financial services market is ripe for such services.
The system also contains a transformation engine that can convert from a format like XML to SAP or Oracle. Typically organizations have giant meshes of infrastructure which pass data back and forth to various applications keeping them all current. Solace System’s solutions act as an enterprise information bus of sorts allowing the enterprise to more easily create and distribute applications where speed and interoperability are key.
So what do I think about the space Solace Systems plays in? I believe it is an area where the solution is something the market needs. The biggest barriers to adoption outside of financial markets might just be inertia. Also, it is tough to know when the application layer routing market will gain serious legs. The concept makes sense but it will be interesting to see how successful service providers will be at selling these sorts of services. In a way Solace Systems is in the right place at the right time as service providers are looking for new revenue opportunities and enterprises have become very comfortable with outsourcing. Hopefully at some point soon I can speak with some of the company’s customers to get a better idea of how the take up has been.