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SOAgartnerextreme SOA governanceextreme governance 7 Dec 2007 11:41 AM
Extreme Governance? by kvandersluis

There was a lot of talk about governance this week at Gartner's Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit in Las Vegas. What is SOA governance? Simply put, SOA governance defines the policies, procedures and rules of how an organization implements and manages its SOA. Just like we have a development process guiding how we develop core software (XAware uses Agile/Scrum), SOA governance defines the process for SOA development initiatives across the enterprise. Issues to be managed include who can define services, who implements services, permissions for who can access them, on what platform they run, and who pays for development and maintenance.

At the show, I talked with many enterprise users to get reactions to the governance talks. The message from Gartner is clear - Paulo Malinverno stated in one presentation that an SOA with no governance is doomed to failure. But most of the companies I talked to, in trying to implement SOA, are either not implementing governance, or are still struggling with how to do it. I am convinced many others have governance, but are calling it by a different name. The common strategy seems to have a single point of authority, such as an enterprise architecture group, which defines the policies and ensures compliance.

In a conversation with Gartner analyst Roy Shulte, I asked his thoughts on SOA governance. In his view, governance is merely "the workflow in IT". Again, this sounds like nothing more than a process to manage services and other components in the SOA.

Just Enough Governance

Paolo and others caution against too much governance, which might smother and cripple a fledgling SOA initiative. In this respect, I look at agile development processes as the model for appropriate levels of controls. Scrum and XP both value working software over documentation and heavy-handed processes. In fact, I like the term "extreme governance" as a moniker for SOA governance in an agile environment. For developers, the connotation is light-weight, as-needed controls. For the executive who skims over details, the company's "extreme governance" process should win bragging rights in the fight to maintain firm control over the IT rebels. We'll fill him in on the play on words later.

For my part, I would simply recommend to users to stay pragmatic. Services are becoming easy to build, so the number within the enterprise will naturally grow rapidly. The key is understanding that some of the services should become "investment engines" that deserve more oversight to extract meaningful, enterprise-wide value. Services on the edge of an enterprise require more control than services deployed for departmental use. Services with broad use potential within the enterprise should be institutionalized and deployed on enterprise-scale, operationally sound infrastructure. To me, staying pragmatic and applying controls in the proper contexts is the definition of "extreme governance".

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