SOA Governance Requires More than a Service Registry

The first thing most people in IT leadership think of at the mention of SOA governance is the service registry because software vendors have so successfully promoted the view of automating SOA governance through their respective products. Effective SOA governance requires more than just a service registry and, in fact, is much more dependent on people and processes rather than technology solutions.

SOA governance and consequently, the service registry, are merely enablers for SOA adoption. It is therefore logical to consider the drivers for SOA adoption and how they are realized through governance and the service registry.

The foremost drivers for SOA are integration and reuse. The latter when measured, is an indication of success of the initiative. Common challenges to reuse are fulfillment of business functionality, service level guarantees for hosted services, service ownership, incentives for reuse, and available service information. A multi-level and strong governance framework is needed to address these challenges with the service registry servicing mostly the information needs of the framework.

This article identifies the core elements of SOA governance and discusses how and where a registry may be used in the service life-cycle.

SOA and IT governance – The strategic nature of many SOA programs implies the need for strong governance. SOA governance is in fact an extension of IT governance:

Enterprise IT principles and governance decisions drive SOA principles and decisions as SOA is but one of the many solution architecture paradigms used to produce an enterprise’s architecture deliverables. The governance framework is, therefore, mostly an extension of the responsibilities of existing stakeholders with the exception of a dedicated SOA centre of excellence created for large SOA initiatives.

Core elements of SOA governance – Almost all SOA governance aspects may be articulated into the three core elements (This categorization gives a bird’s eye view of decisions to be taken and managed in SOA adoption.):

Software vendor literature emphasize technology solution capabilities and seldom address the people and process aspects of governance. This gap has a profound impact in achieving reuse, which, then, negatively effects ROI measurements for SOA adoption.

Multi-level SOA governance – SOA governance has multiple implementation levels; each mandating involvement from distinct groups of stakeholders. The table below summarizes the typical levels and the related governance activities that are performed: