Analyst: Start SOA governance now, even if its just on Excel

'Just because you aren't aware of services doesn't mean you shouldn't govern them'

It's 11:00 -- do you know where your services are? Today's enterprise has a hodgepodge of services coming from all different directions -- from enterprise packaged applications, Web 2.0 and cloud applications, and devices of every size and sort.

'Just because you aren't aware of services doesn't mean you shouldn't govern them'

If these services exist or are being brought into the enterprise, they need to all be governed -- no exceptions. That's the takeaway from a very compelling talk I heard by Gartner's SOA guru, Frank Kenney, delivered at Tibco's TUCON conference, being held this week in San Francisco.

Frank declared that SOA already completed its dip into Gartner's proverbial "Trough of Disillusionment," and has now begun climbing the "Slope of Enlightenment," which is considered the serious, post-hype stage in which companies actually finally start seeing value from their investments.

There's a roadblock, though, to SOA's advancement at this stage. 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 emphasized repeatedly through the presentation. Get started and get started now.

The tools and solutions for SOA governance are getting better and better, Kenney said. But the reality is that Microsoft offers the most widely used SOA governance registry tool -- the Excel spreadsheet, he said. But, Kenney added, that's not such a bad thing. "You don't have to buy anything right away," he explained -- Excel may be the best first step toward providing the visibility needed to communicate the availability of services to the rest of enterprise.

Of course, Excel doesn't provide the more advanced capabilities needed to effectively govern SOA projects, such as security, scalability, and audit-ability. The tools are readily available, and Kenney noted that the "majority of vendors will help you meet 80% of your SOA needs today."

The challenge, however, is a lack of federation standards that hamper the ability of various parts of the organization to achieve common views on governance. SOA governance tools help with service governance, but business process management (BPM) tools are integration platforms are better suited for process governance. "Whether its around UDDI or something else, we need to address federated governance," he said. Without it, "we'll go back to old ETL [extract, transform, load] and FTP. The problem is that these things won't scale."

The problem is growing, since the number of services within enterprise walls is multiplying beyond comprehension. We're entering an age when business end-users are being actively courted by IT vendors with tools to create their own services. "If you think the only services you should govern are the ones you developed, you are wrong.... Just because you aren't aware of services doesn't mean you shouldn't govern them," Kenney said.


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