Defining SOA governance

When approaching SOA projects, you'll want technologies in place to effectively move through the process.

IT channel takeaway: Should you be looking into offering SOA solutions and services now or later? One SOA Link member (and vendor) offers his take on the state of the market.

With Frank Grossman, President of SOA vendor MindReef, and SOA Link member.

Question: SOA is being pitched to the IT community as the answer to interoperability, with standards like SOAP, XML, WSDL and, of course, many others. So why is there an interoperability issue with SOA governance? Don't all the other standards already take care of that?

Grossman: Governance is certainly something that's hard to define at times, but it is a workflow that somebody needs to think out in an organization. There's no governance standard, and so, governance needs to be thought out for the organization, and then implemented for that organization, and then hopefully checked by that organization. What you want is a set of technologies that don't necessarily define governance, but that help you make sure that you don't drop the ball as you're moving through the process. In order to make sure that is happening, the different products that are involved in that process need to work closely to make sure there aren't any cracks to fall through. If you have a policy, there are different kinds of checks along the way. There's sign-off, which is one form of governance, and then there's the active part. "Okay, I have this Web service, does it actually comply to the industry standards?" -- because, certainly, you can create Web services that don't.

Question: I have to ask the question: Why launch SOA Link when the Governance Interoperability Framework already exists? Are there specific weaknesses in GIF?

Grossman: There are definitely differences. GIF was originally set against some APIs, and also done as a marketing program, but SOA Link is taken from a very pragmatic point of view. These links that we talk about are the links that customers have between products. So, for instance, MindReef and Infravio have a common customer that we integrate together for, and through that link we can bring that as a best practice out to the rest of the world. Different groups have different initiatives. SOA Link says, "Let's find the customers that are using products together, make sure it's a good solution for them, and then bring it out as a best practice so that the rest of the world can know." [That way], as more and more companies get into service-oriented architecture, there's a path of successes that they can follow.

Question: On a more general level, there are widely differing opinions on the rate of SOA adoption. One group is saying that enterprises are having trouble getting beyond the pilot stage due to a combination of technological and political problems. Others are saying 90 percent in two or three years. What's your take?

Grossman: What we see is that Web services and service-oriented architecture are taking both a bottom-up and a top-down approach inside enterprises. You need a lot of bottom-up because new technology is being adopted. Developers and testers all have to learn how to use that technology. The real success of a service-oriented architecture, though, is putting together a full architecture and an infrastructure to support that architecture. And that takes some top-down work because usually what you're doing is tying multiple lines of business together, their budgets and other pieces. That takes a top-down approach.

The successes we see in getting a full service-oriented architecture deployed are those that have an SOA council or center of excellence that can start tying these [pieces] together. Adoption is happening at both ends. I think the adoption rate at the bottom-up level is much faster than the top-down, because you need to show that the technology is stable enough and that you can use it properly before you can get into creating top-down councils, and understanding things like, "What granularity of service should be create to make our business the most agile?" That's going to be different from company to company.

This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Edge.

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