Oh what a difference five years makes. Back in the good old days, 2002-03, IT people at the time (our ancestors) were fascinated with this new approach called "service oriented architecture," which would make integration faster and cheaper and less onerous. Now that many companies have services in production, they need to figure out how they can make the business more supple.
'Business is still frozen in a mess of technology silos'
These and many other issues were explored at Software AG's SOA Governance Summit held this week in New York. I had the chance to stop by, and one current that ran through the event was the thinking that perhaps the industry needs to shift away from the term "SOA governance" -- which evokes images of nasty things like control and restrictions -- and start referring to it as "SOA lifecycle management." Will that stick? SOA lifecycle management could be acronymized as SLIM -- which evokes images of unwieldy, sprawling service creation and management being streamlined into a nice, manageable process.
Forrester analyst Mike Gilpin planted the seeds for the terminology change, a theme echoed by other speakers throughout the day. However, the bottom line, Gilpin observes, is the fact that "business is still frozen in a mess of technology silos."
Miko Matsumura, deputy CTO at Software AG, said the greatest challenge to managing SOA is the tribal-like groupings of businesspeople, architects, developers, all with vested interests in projects, and inclinations to protect -- not break open -- their silos.
Many organizations have their work cut out for them in terms of complexity. Miko cites the example of one manufacturing company that had 34 ERP systems as a result of mergers and acquisitions, as well as complex requirements.
To better address these conflicting agendas, Miko says the industry needs to take a new perspective on SOA and related spheres of influence. Namely, service oriented architecture isn't just the Lego-block approach proposed by IT, it also should encompass the process-oriented architecture that serves the business, as well as the Web oriented architecture that is forming around social networks and cloud computing. "The totality represents SOA today," he said.
Tony Baer also led a rousing panel of experts, including Miko Matsumura, Mike Gilpin, Dr. Rama Kanneganti of HCL, and Jim Bole of Software AG. The recurring them was the urgency of "doing governance from day one," as Jim said.
There is nothing new about governance itself, said Kanneganti, noting that "long before SOA governance there was IT governance." He added that his company has found that "the most successful selling of SOA governance is where there already is governance."
Tony Baer also provides a nicely detailed overview of the summit, noting the fact that the conference took place in the home of financial services -- and "if there was ever a sector that begs governance, this one’s the baby."
Tony related an important part of his panel discussion -- what SOA governance is, and how to sell it to the organization:
When we posed the question of what SOA governance is, the panel concurred that it is a combination of people and processes, with technology as tool to apply the processes that people (in or out of their tribes have worked out). Bole volunteered that business processes might be a better way to sell SOA, and ultimately, SOA governance to the enterprise. We pressed again, asking, at the end of the day, who’s accountable for SOA governance? One of the answers was, maybe, yet maybe, SOA governance could make EAs relevant, finally.