Home > Articles > Web Services > SOA

An Introduction to DataPower SOA Appliances

The authors explain what exactly SOA appliances are, how they are used, and how they are similar and dissimilar to traditional household appliances.
This chapter is from the book

Let’s get one thing straight right from the top—these are not your mother’s appliances!

Let’s use that opening statement as a springboard for our discussion on exactly what SOA appliances are, how they are used, and how they are similar and dissimilar to traditional household appliances. The use of the term appliance to describe this new class of IT products is no accident. It is meant to convey certain parallels to the term that is familiar to us. Think about it—what are the characteristics of your typical household appliances? Visualize the appliances of yesteryear rather than the more complex ones we see on the market today. Certain attributes should come to mind:

  • Purpose-built—Appliances at home are typically for specialized uses—one for washing clothes, one for keeping food cold, and so on.
  • Simple—Most appliances have few knobs and controls. They have simple designs due to the dedicated purpose for which they are designed. They are also reliable, so they don’t need to be serviced or replaced often.

Get the picture? Now let’s move the discussion to a realm where we as IT professionals are more comfortable—for many, that is not the realm of domestic chores!

There is a current trend in IT shops to use specialized appliances wherever possible. This is due to several factors, the primary ones being total cost of ownership (TCO), return on investment (ROI), performance, integration, ease of use, and security. To get started, we introduce you to IBM’s WebSphere DataPower SOA appliances, and then talk about how appliances can help in each of these areas. Of course, we go into much greater detail throughout this book.

Meet the Family!

The primary1 three products in the DataPower family are the DataPower XA35, XS40, and XI50, as shown in Figure 1-1. As you can see, the products are outwardly similar in appearance. Each is a hardened 1U rack-mount device in a tamper-proof case with four RJ-45 Ethernet ports, a DB-9 serial port, and a power switch. We are speaking about the base configuration—there are options available, such as adding a Hardware Security Module, which could alter the outward physical profile. There are also replaceable fan trays, batteries, power supplies, and compact flash cards or hard drives.

Figure 1-1

Figure 1-1 The DataPower product family.

In the following sections, we discuss the feature set for each model and then move on to scenarios in which appliances can be of great value before taking a closer look at what’s under the covers.

DataPower XA35

The DataPower XA35 (on the bottom in Figure 1-1) is the entry level product in the line and most representative of the beginnings of the product and DataPower company. The appliance is green, which represents its primary function: to make XML “go faster.” This is also the impetus behind the designation of the “A” in XA; it stands for acceleration. The XA35 is at its core a highly efficient XML processing engine. It makes use of DataPower’s purpose-built features, such as optimized caches and dedicated SSL hardware to process XML at near wire-speed.

The XA35 is a hardened appliance, but it has limited security processing functionality; for example, it does not have the full XML threat protection or encryption/digital signature capabilities as the other models that we discuss. For these reasons, it generally sits behind the DMZ,2 in the trusted zone to augment the processing of XML files. For example, it may be configured to do validation and transformation of XML before it reaches (or for traffic flowing between) the backend servers. It should be used in-line in the network topology, not as a co-processor hanging off a particular server (although this latter usage is how the appliances were first designed). A popular usage is to receive XML responses from backend servers and transform those into HTML before continuing the response to the client. It has full SSL and SNMP capabilities to fit into the network infrastructure.

DataPower XS40

The DataPower XS40 (in the middle in Figure 1-1) is called the security appliance, and justifiably it is yellow, which represents caution or yield. The “S” in XS stands for security. This model is often found in the DMZ, as its security capabilities are extensive.

The XS40 has all the capabilities of the XA35, plus the following:

  • Encryption/decryption utilizing purpose-built hardware for RSA operations
  • Digital signature creation/verification
  • Fine grained Authentication, Authorization, and Auditing (AAA)
  • Full XML threat protection
  • Tivoli® Access Manager (TAM) integration option
  • Hardware Storage Module (HSM) option
  • Dynamic routing
  • Message filtering
  • Fetching content from remote servers
  • MIME, DIME, and Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM) attachment processing
  • XML Generation 4 (XG4) accelerator module option
  • Web services management
  • Service level monitoring

DataPower XI50

The DataPower XI50 (at the top in Figure 1-1) is truly the star of the show. It is the integration appliance, as represented by the “I” in XI, and it is IBM blue (what else!) in color. Due to its integration capabilities, it is often found in the backend private network, functioning in an ESB capacity but is just as suitable for the DMZ. The majority of this book focuses on the XI50, as it is a superset of the other two models.

The XI50 has all the features of the XS40 (and hence the XA35) plus the following:

  • WebSphere MQ client option
  • WebSphere Java Message Service (JMS) Jetstream protocol connectivity
  • TIBCO Enterprise Message Service (EMS) connectivity
  • IBM IMS Connect client
  • Database option (DB2, Sybase, Oracle, SQL Server)
  • Optimized run-time engine for non-XML transformations

This might seem like a short list compared to all the capabilities that the XS40 heaps on what the XA35 had, but these are some big-ticket items! Throughout this book, you will see just how important these features are and how to leverage them.

Now that we’ve had our brief introduction, let’s talk about where appliances are being used in corporate information technology shops, and what kinds of problems they can help solve.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020