SOA Governance: Balancing Process and Agility

By now everybody has heard over and over how governance is critical to the success of any SOA Implementation. Companies implementing SOA must provide the proper level of governance required to achieve reuse and flexibility without negatively impacting their team's ability to innovate and be agile.

By Mike Kavis
Tue, September 23, 2008

CIO — I have seen many companies fall into two different traps when attempting to implement SOA governance. The first trap is not having a robust enough governance model. The second trap is having so much process that it takes forever to get things done. The trick is balancing process and agility.

Not enough process creates chaos

There are a number of reasons why companies do not have a robust enough governance model. Here are a few reasons that I have seen:

Without an effective governance model, your dreams of SOA nirvana can turn into nightmares of down systems, high development costs, unmanageable production environments and unhappy customers. To get the reuse, flexibility, agility, and ease of integration that SOA promises, design time governance must ensure that services are built in a consistent manner that provides business value, meets certain performance and security requirements, is platform neutral, and does not break anything that already is deployed.

Runtime governance is crucial because of the distributed and abstract nature of SOA. A single business service may be made up of a number of components within numerous layers of the architecture. When that service fails, you better have the proper processes and tools in place to quickly identify the issues and to recover before your customers notice first.

Then there is the complexity of managing service versioning, proactively monitoring performance and security, ensuring compliance and enforcing regulatory controls, and much more.

Implementing SOA without a solid governance model is the equivalent to having an airport without a control tower. Sure, there are some very good planes and talented pilots, but without the proper planning and timely information the end results would be disastrous. So make sure you build a control tower and hire some air traffic controllers!

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