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Another view on the difference between SOA management and SOA governance

What is the difference between SOA management and SOA governance? Noted author and educator Michael P. Papazoglou explains these two terms.'s recently re-posed the common question: "What is the difference between SOA managment and SOA governance?" to noted author and educator Michael (Mike) P. Papazoglou.

These two terms are rather confusing to people and rightly so. SOA management implies technical management while SOA governance implies organizational management of SOA-based applications.

I'll use some definitions to explicate these two terms.

SOA management has its roots in distributed systems and network management, which have evolved from the need to manage successive layers of new technologies and devices as they have been deployed into distributed computing environments. A distributed application-management system controls and monitors an application throughout its life cycle, from installing and configuring to collecting metrics and tuning the application to ensure responsive execution. The system's functionality must cover all operational activities — including starting and stopping processes, and rerouting operations — as well as problem-detection functions, such as application tracing and message editing. Distributed application manageability in this context signifies the ability to exercise administrative and supervisory actions and receive information that is relevant to such actions on a variety of distributed resources.

Services in SOA need to be managed in at least two dimensions: operational and tactical.

With the operational management dimension, a systems administrator starts and stops services and keeps track of how many instances of a service are running, in which containers, and on which remote systems. Operational services management (also referred to as simply Web services management) is defined as the functionality required for discovering the existence, availability, performance, health, patterns of usage, extensibility, as well as the control and configuration, life-cycle support and maintenance of a service or business process within the context of SOAs. This definition implies that services can be managed using Web services technologies (e.g., the Web Services Distributed Management standard or WSDM). In particular, it suggests a manageability model that applies to both Web services and business processes in terms of manageability topics, (identification, configuration, state, metrics, and relationships) and the aspects (properties, operations and events) used to define them.

The tactical (or business management) dimension provides a number of business activity monitoring and analytics capabilities that enable some human agent to watch over business operations,identifying opportunities and diagnosing problems as they occur so as to ensure that the services supporting a given business task are performing in accordance with service level objectives. Tactical services management provides end-to-end visibility and control over all parts of a long-lived, multi-step process that spans multiple applications and human actors in one or more enterprises.

SOA governance has deeply its roots in IT governance. IT governance is a formalization of the structured relationships, procedures and policies that ensure the IT functions in an organization support and are aligned to business functions. IT governance aligns IT activities with the goals of the organization as whole and includes the decision-making rights associated with IT investment, as well as the policies, practices and processes used to measure and control the way IT decisions are prioritized and executed.

A significant challenge to widespread SOA adoption is for SOAs to deliver value. To achieve this, there must be control in areas ranging from how a service is built and the process of service deployment, to granular items such as XSD schemas and WSDL creation. Moreover, the cross-organizational nature of end-to-end business processes that are composed out of variety of service fragments (which may need to be maintained separately by different organizations) makes the management of QoS a factor of paramount importance. QoS must not only be enforced but must also be proven and demonstrated to service consumers to gain their trust and create an effective shared-service environment. To implement an efficient services strategy at the enterprise level, more than just technical know-how is needed. It requires efficient SOA governance.

SOA governance is an extension of IT governance and guiding principles where focus is on the life cycle of services and is designed to enable enterprises to maximize business benefits of SOA such as increased process flexibility, improved responsiveness, and reduced IT maintenance costs. SOA governance refers to the organization, process, policies and metrics that are required to manage an SOA successfully. It is a life-cycle approach that integrates an organization's people, processes, information and assets. SOA governance mitigates many of the business risks inherent in SOA adoption by establishing decision rights, guiding the definition of appropriate services, managing assets and measuring effectiveness. The goal of SOA governance is to align the business strategy and imperatives of an enterprise with its IT initiatives.

More on this topic can be found at "Web Services: Principles and Technology", Prentice-Hall, Sept. 2007. Some of the material in this article is excerpted from this book.

You can also find more at SOA and WS publications.

About the author
Prof. dr. ir. Michael (Mike) P. Papazoglou is chair of Computer Science, Tilburg University, and director of the Tilburg Research Institute on Service Science (TRISS) of the INFOLAB & the European Network of Excellence on Software Systems & Services (S-Cube), Tilburg, The Netherlands.

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