How is SOA 'governance' different from SOA 'management'?

SOA not only requires management, but also leadership. That's where governance comes in.

Albert Mavashev, writing in SOA World, asks a very interesting question: Why all the buzz about SOA 'governance,' when simple tried-and-true 'management' would do?

"It is interesting to see a new term like 'governance' replacing a good old term like 'management.' In fact, what is the difference between SOA governance and SOA management? I don’t see any difference. So we have a new slew of concepts and terms, which really add very little over and above the good old terminology."

SOA not only requires management, but also leadership

Albert's observation makes plenty of sense, especially in a market where we're prone to dress up traditional concepts with fancier-sounding buzzwords to foist the latest products on enterprise buyers. Governance is management, plain and simple.

However, governance does have meaning above and beyond plain old management in the way it is applied to service-oriented architecture.

For further guidance, I turn to governance guru Miko Matsumura (who also keynoted at SOA World), who posted some key points about what SOA governance is all about: "the creation, communication, enforcement, maintenance and adaptation of policies across the SOA lifecycle of design time, run time and change time."

Miko says governance matters a lot because "SOA has too many moving parts. This means that without mechanisms of control and enforcement, business policies can be breached (resulting in individuals acting in ways that hurt the organization) and technical policies can be breached (resulting in nonfunctioning, inefficient or noncompliant technical services)."

In essence, you don't want to simply try to manage SOA. SOA is about eliciting support, cooperation, and most importantly, a sense of ownership from many parts of the enterprise.

Albert also made the observation that SOA governance itself may be too focused on Web services. "What about more advanced SOA deployments with ESB, brokers, and non-Web service based environments? That is a much bigger problem to deal with and more complex indeed."

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