As SOA adoption solidifies, good governance is recognized as critical next step

Jerry Kelly, CIO and VP of 3Com, a global supplier of converged voice and data networking solutions, believes good governance is the cornerstone of success with service-oriented architecture (SOA). “It's absolutely imperative,” he says, adding that strong governance capability “was a big benefit [apart from] everything else we got with webMethods from Software AG.


Jerry Kelly, CIO and VP of 3Com , a global supplier of converged voice and data networking solutions, believes good governance is the cornerstone of success with service-oriented architecture (SOA).

“It's absolutely imperative,” he says, adding that strong governance capability “was a big benefit [apart from] everything else we got with webMethods from Software AG .”

Gartner concurs. The Stamford, Conn.-based industry analyst firm's first-ever Magic Quadrant ranking for integrated SOA governance published in January had Software AG leading in completeness of vision among the six vendors in the coveted quadrant.

SOA is an application development methodology that leverages lightweight, well-designed “services”—e.g. customer profile, purchase order, ship-to location—registered and maintained in a central repository and available for broad reuse. In the Gartner report, IBM topped the field in terms of ability to execute. Other quadrant qualifiers include AmberPoint, SOA Software, Progress Software, and Hewlett-Packard (HP).

“Governance is about tracking all the rules and monitoring events around them to ensure that service-oriented architecture works the way it's supposed to,” says Daryl Plummer, a Gartner managing VP and a coauthor of the January report.

Plummer stresses that governance is less a suite or platform, but more a set of core disciplines, including:

  • Registry and repository, for registering available services and making them easily accessible for multiple reuse;

  • Monitoring and evaluating performance to ensure services are meeting end-user needs and expectations; and

  • Enforcement, which involves policies surrounding who can use what—and when and how.

While the concept of software services has been around more than two decades, in 2000, Gartner laid out that governance would be a key aspect, as SOA introduces a whole new set of problems in software deployment.

Gartner says SOA didn't gain significance until 2003. “It took a couple years of people working with it to realize just how critical it is. By 2006, it had become a very hot topic with our clients,” says Plummer.

SOA governance is offered by smaller, best-of-breed vendors such as AmberPoint and Iona. Those vendors providing it as part of middleware offerings include IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Software AG; and enterprise management vendors HP and Computer Associates.

Software AG articulates its SOA governance vision in terms of “design time, run time, and change time,” says Miko Matsumura, deputy CTO.

“Many vendors look at governance as a developer's problem; others see it as an IT problem. But it's a business problem,” explains Matsumura. “It's about being agile and able to change quickly to meet business requirements.”

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) governance comprises the processes for overseeing and controlling SOA adoption and implementation in accordance with recognized practices and government regulations. The goal is optimum service quality, consistency, predictability, and performance so that personnel can easily follow prescribed policies, and correct any system problems or policy infractions as they occur.

Software AG, in partnership with Fujitsu , created the CentraSite Community a year ago as a collaborative registry and repository for heterogeneous services from multiple vendors and trading partners. The innovative concept is steadily gaining traction with the addition of new partners, offering one of the most promising developments in strong support of heterogeneous services for knitting together strong collaborative supply chains.

Meanwhile, IBM is adding key governance capabilities through acquisitions, and melding them with the comprehensive IBM WebSphere middleware stack. Bowen says WebSphere saw significantly more customer interest beginning Q4 2007.

“IBM views good governance as comprised of the technical aspect—that is, the enabling tools that allow you to track services and make revisions—and equally important, the cultural aspect, about how IT and business work together,” says Fillmore Bowen, SOA governance marketing manager. “It's about decision-making: Who makes the decisions, and when; and who's responsible for executing them. It's not a three-inch binder sitting on a shelf, but must be part of the infrastructure.”

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