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Why have so many hybrid vehicles been registered in the state of California in the last 12 months? Is it the more than $1500 in federal tax credits given to hybrid owners, or the luxury of cruising down the high-occupancy vehicle lanes solo during commute hours? Or is it that Californians are becoming more environmentally aware? Whatever the true reason, the reality is that policies were put into place to encourage desirable behavior—the purchase of low-consumption vehicles. This is an example of governance: when policies are put into place to encourage desirable outcomes.

Some people use SOA governance to mean service lifecycle governance—that is, governing the lifecycle of services from creation through deployment. Others take it to mean applying runtime policies to services. But is there more to SOA governance than this? Shouldn’t governance with SOA ultimately be about delivering on your business and SOA objectives? Finally, without a common understanding of what governance means, are organizations that adopt SOA simply setting themselves up for failure?

This article outlines a framework for governance as it specifically relates to SOA, and introduces our Six Steps to Successful SOA Governance model. Armed with this model, architects and IT managers with SOA responsibility will have the knowledge and framework they need to help ensure SOA success.


Peter Weill of MIT defines IT governance as "specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT.” In other words, IT managers must use decisions, processes, and policies to encourage the behavior that contributes to success—in this case, successful SOA adoption (see Figure 1). This definition of governance implies that you have to have some concrete expectations up front. In order to deliver on these expectations, and as part of your SOA strategy, you need a plan that we refer to as the SOA Roadmap. The SOA Roadmap is simply an outline of the capabilities and policies that need to be put into place over a period of time (such as 2–5 years) to help ensure that you deliver on your business and SOA strategy. By incrementally building the required capabilities over a period of time, you can increase your SOA maturity, thereby enabling you to deliver more projects in a more efficient and change-resilient way.


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