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ebizQ's Business Agility Watch


Getting the Most Out of SOA With SOA Governance: Software AG Explains

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Listen to my podcast with Jignesh Shah, Vice President of Business Infrastructure Products and Solutions at Software AG. Jignesh guides the direction of Software AG's SOA products and in this podcast he explains the growing importance of SOA Governance to SOA success.

Listen to or download the 10:13 minute podcast below:

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PS: Now, Gartner just reported SOA governance rose 17.5% last year. How do you account for such robust growth in what was generally pretty much a down economy?

JS: It certainly is a very interesting sign, Peter, to see SOA governance grow double digits in a year when at the beginning of the year it's -- SOA in general was declared dead and we were hit by a global financial crisis, a pandemic and so on and so forth. Really, what this boils down to is the fact that 2009 really was a year when SOA went mainstream and it gathered stream. This is the year when enterprises finally rolled up their sleeves and got down to doing SOA and doing SOA well.

And as and when this happens in every customer account that we work with, we see that that is the point when enterprises realize why SOA governance is so important, why SOA governance is the key to realizing the benefits from SOA. So what happened really in summary is that in 2009 enterprises got serious about SOA and as a result they got serious about SOA governance and that is what has led to this very positive, very encouraging uptake in the adoption of SOA governance both as a discipline and the tooling around supporting the discipline.

PS: Now you kind of touched on this in your previous answer but would say that the growth in SOA governance proves that SOA is alive and well or would you say they're basically two different measurements?

JS: Well certainly, SOA governance or the growth in SOA governance rather is predicated on the growth in SOA. Its obvious that companies will not invest in SOA governance if they're not interested in SOA and if they're not interested in investing and benefiting from SOA. So certainly, I think the correlation is very strong that if companies are willing to invest in SOA governance that they are very interested in getting the most out of SOA to begin with.

PS: Now basically, why is governance so important to SOA?

JS: That's a good question and that is something that is often lost in all the theoretical and architectural debate around what is governance, how do you do it well, how do you type the architecture and so on. So let's take step back and think about SOA and think about why is SOA different from all the other approaches that IT has used in the past to build applications and deliver IT capable to the business. The one fundamental difference is that there's the first time where on a large scale IT is trying to create shared resources, shared in a way that they cross application boundaries, they cross organizational boundaries, they cross budget lines, they cross lines of accountability and responsibility.

And it is this crossing of lines, this sort of breaking down of system silos, organizational silos, accountability silos that create this very critical need for governing SOA. So you go back to the world of applications that we're all so used to. Well applications, have one dedicated project team and they need governance but that governance is sort of within the realm of that project or that application and is accomplished through the normal mechanisms of project funding, project reviews, architectural reviews, and so on for that application. But SOA kind of explodes these concerns to the enterprise wide scale, or to the multi-departments scale, or the multi-business unit scale.

And now suddenly a lot of people are interested in how a center service is funded, or how a certain service is changed and evolved, and what type of SLAs are needed for that one service. And so the decision making process and the number of stakeholders involved in making that decision it's a lot more complexed and the scale is much bigger.

This is why we need SOA governance. It's because of the scale and complexity of making decisions around which services to build, how to build them, how to fund them, how to evolve and operate them. In the SOA world, these concerns span multiple stakeholders, multiple lines of responsibilities and so on and that's why governance is so important to making SOA work.

PS: Well that makes sense. Now where would you say -- at what point in the SOA cycle should a company bring in governance?

JS: That's a good point and that has been debated over the past many years. And some folks and some people have posited that it depends on the number of services you have and others have argued that it doesn't matter how many number of services you have. I look at this a little differently and say you should start thinking about governance the day you have more than one stakeholder involved in making decisions about which services to build, how to maintain, how to operate, how to evolve them. There are largely speaking two dimensions of SOA adoption. One is sort of the scope of SOA in terms of sharing services and resources and that [indiscernible] goes from projects, to across projects, to across departments units, and the enterprise, and sometimes beyond the enterprise.

So that's sort of the scope of SOA adoption and then the volume, if you will, that is where you think about the number of services that you have to worry about that you have to maintain, and operate, and evolve. As soon as you start seeing your scope go beyond projects and applications, it is very likely that you had to put in some form of governance. And as a number of services grows, the complexity, the level of complexity will also grow. So those are typically the two indicators that we ask our customers to look at is who is involved in making decisions and what is the volume or what is the scale of your SOA adoption. These two things should really drive the level of governance you have and that is the other point that I would like make is that there is no one right level of governance.

Depending on where you are on this scale and scope axis, you will need different levels of governance. You don't want to have too much governance in the beginning that might stifle the momentum behind your SOA. You don't want to have too little at any stage because you're increasing the risk of the shared resources or building the wrong resources so that the right level of governance is very important depending on where you are in the scale and scope of your SOA adoption.

PS: Gartner has reported that Software AG was the worldwide market leader at SOA governance for the past two years. Now why is Software AG putting such an emphasis on SOA governance?

JS: Software AG has been very aggressive in both promoting and supporting SOA as an approach combined with BPM as an approach to delivering business capabilities. And these two are really tied at the hip in many ways. BPM and SOA are two sides of the same coin, at least from a process automation point of view. And we saw this really early on, this dynamic around decision making around SOA was very complexed and required a great deal of transparency, required a great of accountability. And we knew that for our customers to succeed with SOA and BPM they would have to overcome these hurdles, build the right processes, build the right level of accountability and transparency.

And because of the scale at which SOA and BPM are adopted, having the right level of tooling was also going to be important. This wasn't something that you could do just with an Excel spreadsheet and so on. A lot of people start there and that's fine but eventually you need to get into tooling that helps you scale your SOA governance processes and practices. So this is the reason we very early adopted SOA governance as a core tenant within our own products. It's something that we bake into our own products and it's something that we also focused on as a discipline and help build experience and methodology around. So the reason we had put so much emphasis on this market is we think that SOA governance is a key ingredient to our customer's success with SOA and BPM and hence to our success with SOA and BPM.

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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