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SOA governance key at Gartner

SOA governance took center stage during Gartner's Web Service Summit in Orlando as analysts pushed it as a critical business differentiator.

Orlando, Fla. – At Gartner Inc.'s Web Services Summit, analysts laid out a clear choice for IT shops: make SOA happen or SOA will happen to you.

In particular, the need for governance was a central theme of the conference, as it was made clear that SOA is here to stay, however unruly it may be.

You only need one service to need governance.  You only need one service to destroy your business.
Daryl Plummer
Managing VP Gartner Inc.

"SOA is not something you chose to do. It will happen to you whether you chose it or not," stated Daryl Plummer, a managing vice president at Gartner, during his Monday keynote. "When you buy your next upgrade you will have SOA in it. It is just a matter of how you chose to use it."

Throughout the first day of the show, Gartner analysts talked up their approach to SOA governance, called SOA Portfolio. They keyed on bringing discipline and tracking to the SOA implementation process, making sure that each project delivers ROI. To make SOA more effective, a system of order is necessary, they said, so that it can align business and technology.

"Portfolio is a set of capabilities that you track," Plummer said. "SOA needs to be tracked."

Gartner advises to start it's governance/management approach with the underlying technical infrastructure of SOA, like middleware and integration protocols. Next in line are the procedures in use, like blueprints, templates and guidelines. The final piece involves composition, which includes business processes and the humans inside a business along with the orchestration of those people and processes.

According to Gartner, the key to a beneficial SOA is the cataloging of assembly efforts and orchestration. It comes down to taking inventory, determining the desired state and then be consistent in tracking of an ever-changing portfolio of services. Simply put by Plummer, "Identify the standards, apply them, then track them."

Any use of a system in a business needs governance, he explained, because there is always a possible of losing it.

"You only need one service to need governance. You only need one service to destroy your business," said Plummer, "You really only need to lose electrical power to lose everything."

According to Gartner, optimal SOA governance promotes communication between IT and business, expresses business goals, promotes re-use and provides accountability.

It wasn't alone at the conference in putting such an onus on governance. According to Ivo Totev, vice president of product marketing for Software AG, "A company that focuses on SOA governance is 20% more likely to have an effectively running business."

"SOA governance is like putting a central dashboard in your business so that you can see everything that is going on," said Totev.

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SOA governance defined

A central registry and repository are critical components of this dashboard. Any service is accounted for, guidelines are put into place and, therefore, the business has an organized system in play.

Plummer made several suggestions as to how to make this happen. One way is to publish the goals of a portfolio in order to strictly define them. Another is to buy above-the-line functionality that can address your future service needs, not just your present needs . Plummer stated, "Services are always evolving. If they stop, they are bad and you shouldn't use them." Buying above-the-line would take that into account and allow for changes that coincide with your evolving systems.

Plummer's final suggestion was to eliminate "suite" thinking altogether. Suites tend to woo a customer into the idea that they are getting a lot, whether or not it is appropriate for the needs of the business. He suggested to focus more on capabilities of a product in relation to specific needs. Titov agreed stating, "No vendor has it all. You want SOA your way, not a vendor's way." Eliminating "suite" thinking, according to Plummer, allows for a more organic business processes that can deliver a better ROI.

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