Mercury catapults role of governance with Systinet acquisition

Various organizations within a supply chain or even larger business ecology may be able to federate their application, service, and process policies to assemble a dynamic B2B/supply chain extended enterprise.
Written by Dana Gardner, Contributor

With the just-announced pending purchase of Systinet, Mercury has begun joining traditional application development and deployment governance with the higher-abstraction SOA policy-based governance. This should lead to a powerful central-yet-flexible source for managing policy and governance information across an entire enterprise, something that has been sorely missing.

By injecting the highly regarded Systinet UDDI (and much more) registry into BTO, Mercury has an opportunity to fulfill a long-awaited mission for distributed computing: a common methodology and associated engine component in which to store and manage policy for applications, services, and processes. Together. In one place. It's huge.

In one deft move, Mercury has the opportunity to pull together two arenas (app dev and SOA) that were related yet distant, and create a much better common pivot-point for associating the world of legacy applications lifecycle with the burgeoning world of services.

And, if the Systient registry and embraced standards gain a wider de-facto standardization role, then various organizations within a supply chain or even larger business ecology could meaningfully federate their application, service, and process policies to assemble a true B2B/supply chain extended enterprise. Read: productivity bonanza.

It reminds me on one hand of when Rock music met Jazz to create Fusion (my 1970s right brain), while it smacks of providing the same kind of catalyst for business process management that LDAP provided to allow for federated ID management (my 1990s left brain). Look at the acquisition's potential either way, and it's sweet music of a bright new category, with sterling roots, that will serve as a highly practical and coalescing force for a new order of enterprise and B2B productivity, as well as for accelerated SOA adoption.

What do we really have here? Imagine an API-accessible yet secure repository that takes over for application lifecycle management and code/components management, unifies them, and then also offers from the same source a common policy engine for services interoperability and extensibility, one that enforces provisioning rules while providing a canvas on which to paint and operate new process schematics. Very cool.

There may even be a way of fusing even more IT universes in here, by, say, linking in and/or storing corporate, IT, or portfolio governance rules and meta data into the common architecture and -- more importantly -- comprehensive management methodology. Executives could then gain real-time and holistic views into what was really going on in the most critical, or arcane, of their businesses processes. Metrics and analytics could kick in to provide a virtual total governance dashboard. Far out.

The execution of making Systinet within Mercury viewed as a potential standard will need to be carefully executed. The benefits of an enterprise being able to use new tools (yet to come?) to target the registry (which itself swallows up more policy-laden meta data about more applications, services, and processes) as a focal point for total business orchestration is significant. We can call it TBTO (Total Business Technology Optimization).

But for me the cosmic bang comes when groups of engaged enterprises, each with their own uber registry for policy and governance, start to carve out a portion of that meta data to securely and deliberately share across a business ecology. A two-way street of policy and process provisioning then becomes possible -- despite the burgeoning complexity of SOA and semantic meta information sharing -- to automate and enliven how companies can inter-relate, possibly on the fly.

The potential of this acquisition is not just for two leading vendors in their fields -- Systinet and Mercury -- to come together in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but for the larger value of the creation of a new kind of governance enablement, as well as to propel SOA into wider and easier adoption.

I expect that this move by Mercury, which swiftly elevates its value as a supplier from back-office BTO to executive suite TBTO, will force other vendors to move on evaluating their fit with policy cum process cum services registries, such as Infravio's. I had a recent chat in my podcast series, BriefingsDirect, on this very subject with Infravio's Miko Matsumura. Listen here.

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