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What is SOA Governance and Why Business Requires It

SOA Governance helps organizations meet their SOA goals and visions by establishing decisions rights, measurement, policy and control mechanisms around the services lifecycle of the SOA applications and their component services.

A typical SOA governance need might be an organization’s need to store services in a way to makes it easy to share them to promote reuse. The organization also needs to know how and where the services are being used so that they can understand the implications of any change to an existing service. A Registry and Repository permits information (metadata) about each service to be stored for shared access. It can both promote the use of the services assets by making them easy to find and easy to share and also control access to any particular service or to changes in that service.

Governance is also required so that services will be written not for a single user designing code for a single project, but with a view toward broad reuse across the organizational infrastructure. This requires a place where an enterprise-wide point of view can be encouraged and implemented. It prevents (as we will note in several of our examples) needless duplication of effort and wasted resources, as well as designing multiple systems that do “almost the same thing” and then create inconsistent output on an ongoing basis, only to cause expensive manual manipulation in the real world..

SOA Governance and ESBs (Enterprise Service Buses) require investment – less for software and more for time and skills to study the business and provide the right rules, rights, and policies to these useful tools. These investments are appropriately shared among multiple business groups (or paid by the organization as an investment in future business systems). It is this investment which can be difficult to get business groups to individually consider and jointly fund, so that such investments are often delayed until after one or more successful SOA projects are implemented without SOA Governance.

Without SOA Governance, there’s a real chance that an organization could achieve SOA within projects in individual business units but fail to achieve any of the synergies of SOA available across the organization when multiple SOA projects are successfully implemented. That’s because there is no central point of view looking to coordinate projects, avoid duplicate effort, and encourage reuse of services and consistency in implementing processes. And it’s there that the real values in cost reduction and business opportunities often lie.

How to Implement and Manage SOA Governance: Governance Measurements, Metrics, and Controls

An ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) is a flexible connectivity infrastructure for integrating applications and services. It is not part of SOA Governance itself, but like SOA Governance it is often the sign of a maturing, well thought out SOA system. Again, it’s designed to make sure that services don’t live in isolation, requiring that similar services be duplicated in other silos. Like SOA Governance, it facilitates sharing and routes messages between services, converts transport protocols, transforms message formats, and handles business events from disparate sources.

Registries allow the organization to track all of its service assets (through the search of their metadata), knowing who is using them and for what. It also encourages the reuse of services by making them easy to discover. Some think that a registry is the equivalent of SOA Governance; it’s not – it’s just a part of the picture.

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October 18, 2006

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