Which comes first — SOA success or SOA governance?

It’s that old chicken-or-egg question: should governance mechanisms be put into place before service oriented architecture gains steam, or should the investment in time and resources for governance wait until there is something to be governed? Does governance help SOA attain success at an earlier stage, or should SOA prove itself first?
This is a question that has constantly come up over the years, and Progress Software’s Ramesh Loganathan raises the question again in a new post. That is, do we really need to sweat governance issues while we’re trying to get services off the ground?

“I have always held that SOA governance is premature yet. While we are struggling to just get SOA adoption in the right spirit, governance is the least of our problems. If we cannot identify a mechanism to first re-engineer ’service orientation’ into IT solutions and have the IT teams in an organization be ‘SOA aware’ ground up and not just deliver the POCs that the CIO or CTO demands, where is the need for operational processes and governance?”

There are many SOA proponents that say governance needs to be part of the plan from day one, in order to ensure that a service oriented architecture does fall into place as services proliferate — and not devolve into a tangled JBOWS non-architecture. For example, Gartner’s Frank Kenney urges enterprises to get started ASAP, even if all you have is a spreadsheet. SOA won’t get too far up the Slope of Enlightment unless effective governance kicks in. SOA governance isn’t just a nice feature to have — it’s critical. “SOA initiatives without SOA governance will fail,” he emphasizes. Get started and get started now.

However, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts here at the site, there often seems to be a “tipping point” that needs to be reached before full-fledged governance is needed. Various surveys I have been involved with have consistently found that governance efforts tend to kick in when companies reach a critical mass of services. The issue is whether companies can’t see the value in nascent service deployments, and are waiting to see how things go before investing staff time and resources to move to the next level, the governance level.

In fact, a poll conducted by BEA (Oracle) a year ago found that most IT managers and technologists know that governance is important to SOA, but don’t really know when it should kick in. Is it ever too soon to get governance underway?

BY Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and consultant with deep knowledge and insights regarding trends and developments in the technology industry. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

© 2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.



Copyright 2008-2009 Daily IT News | Contact Us