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Policy and contract focused architecture

Perhaps architects are paying too much attention to the services when they work on service-oriented architecture implementation, writes Neil Ward-Dutton. He suggests that they might focus on “contract-and-policy-oriented architecture (CPOA).”

Discussions of SOA have gotten too centered on “S as in service,” Ward-Dutton writes in On SOA governance: for SOA, read CPOA? on the blog for his analyst firm, Macehiter Ward-Dutton.

His discussion of the importance of policies and contracts comes in a glowing review of SOA Governance, a highly praised book by Todd Biske , senior enterprise architect with Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri.

“What Todd’s book reminded me is that if you want to get real value out of service orientation, then it’s the ‘A’rchitecture that really makes things happen,” Ward-Dutton writes. “Todd’s narrative keeps coming back to his definition of Governance, which revolves around People, Policies and Processes. And it also talks a lot about the concept of ‘contracts’ in the context of analyzing how service providers and consumers should work together in order to interact. Without People, Policies and Processes in place to guide your organization down the right path, and without the concept of “Contract” to focus on the responsibilities that need to be described and assigned when service consumers and providers interact, such an architecture effort will likely lead nowhere.”

This leads Ward-Dutton to advocate that architects concentrate on policies and contracts and let services be the outcome of the architecture rather than the be-all-and-end-all of SOA.

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