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SOA & WOA: Article

Design Time SOA Governance Needs Some Work

The proper approach to SOA

You need SOA governance, design time, and runtime. However, SOA governance does not come out of a box. Simply put, it's really a matter of people and processes put in place to ensure that the services are designed, deployed, and operated as effectively as possible. However, people and SOA vendors seem to be dropping the ball around design time, in terms of both people and tools. It's more about missing approaches and missing features, and once again there needs to be some education out there as to how organizations need to approach SOA.

First of all, those who define SOA governance as a set of technologies are missing the boat on this concept. The humans need to be factored into the equation. Second, when you do focus on the tools, many things that are required for good SOA governance design are missing, and there are no signs that things will get better.

First, let's deal with the humans.

The fact of the matter is that SOA governance, and governance in general, is really a people and process thing, with technology only coming into play to automate the processes and support the people. If you don't establish that, you're going to fail at SOA governance and thus fail at SOA, no matter how much technology you "invest" in.

Thus, people rely more on tools and technology than education when it comes to SOA governance, when it really needs to be the other way around. Indeed, I promote the 80/20 rule when considering SOA governance. Eighty percent of the time, effort and money should be spent on learning how to create and operate an effective SOA governance strategy, in terms of people and processes. Then you can spend the remaining 20 percent learning about the tools. Most drive toward the tools first, then to the approach as defined by the tools. In doing that, you assume your tools are correct in their approach and function, which is typically not the case, and my next point.

Now, let's deal with the technology.

The issue with design-time SOA governance technology (not runtime) is how deeply the technology goes to serving the true notion of "design" as outlined above. The fact is that most don't go that deep, and many who design a SOA are left wanting more robust features and functions, including true modeling and simulation capabilities based on SOA design and development best practices. They don't consider SOA holistically, but instead focus on the design and management of new and existing services. That's a very small part of SOA, when you get right down to it.

Another issue with design-time SOA governance technology, and as with most SOA technology, is the lack of a standard approach to design-time SOA governance. While there are a few standards emerging, most SOA governance technology providers have gone off in their own proprietary directions, using their own approaches, and no two are alike. Thus, not only are you picking a tool, but you're picking a design approach that may or may not be right for you. The tools should never dictate the approach; they should support best and proven practices, as well as drive design that holistically supports more strategic modeling and simulation features, and supports what SOA is...an architecture.

The whole notion of design-time SOA governance could be getting us off track when it comes to the proper approach to SOA. This is really the fault of the humans who focus way too much on the technology and not the processes or approaches, and the fault of the SOA design-time vendors who need to do a great deal more work on their offering, else the SOA architects will just jump directly into SOA runtime governance, which, as it seems, many are already doing today if you look at the penetration of the technology into the market. I suspect the design-time SOA governance vendors will be fixing a lot of things this year and next.

More Stories By David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting, and was just named the #1 cloud influencer via a recent major report by Apollo Research. He is a cloud computing thought leader, executive, consultant, author, and speaker. He has been a CTO five times for both public and private companies, and a CEO two times in the last 25 years.

Few individuals are true giants of cloud computing, but David's achievements, reputation, and stellar leadership has earned him a lofty position within the industry. It's not just that he is a top thought leader in the cloud computing universe, but he is often the visionary that the wider media invites to offer its readers, listeners and viewers a peek inside the technology that is reshaping businesses every day.

With more than 13 books on computing, more than 5,000 published articles, more than 500 conference presentations and numerous appearances on radio and TV programs, he has spent the last 20 years leading, showing, and teaching businesses how to use resources more productively and innovate constantly. He has expanded the vision of both startups and established corporations as to what is possible and achievable.

David is a Gigaom research analyst and writes prolifically for InfoWorld as a cloud computing blogger. He also is a contributor to “IEEE Cloud Computing,” Tech Target’s SearchCloud and SearchAWS, as well as is quoted in major business publications including Forbes, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and the LA Times. David has appeared on NPR several times as a computing industry commentator, and does a weekly podcast on cloud computing.

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