Poll: companies waiting for 'tipping point' for SOA governance?

Does SOA success begat governance, or governance begat SOA success?

Bob Rhubart published the results of an informal poll that shows that most IT managers and technologists know that governance is important to SOA, but don't really know when it should kick in.

Which comes first -- SOA success or SOA governance?

Governance is not here yet. Only 15% actually had a governance program up and running. Sixty-four percent were still in the "planning/research" stage.

Three percent, in fact, declared that their SOA was flourishing without SOA. Fifty-seven percent said governance was critical, and SOA will fail without it.

The other 40% said that governance is "somewhat" important to SOA, which is what had Bob wondering. Where's the "tipping point" that makes it "important"? He wonders if governance only makes a difference -- and is worth the trouble -- when SOA efforts hit a certain number of services, or a certain number of service consumers. "Or are they waiting until the need becomes obvious? When they reach that point, will they regret waiting?"

Bob also makes the observation that when asked about leading SOA challenges, introducing governance ranks lower on the list than other factors such as organizational barriers and insufficient skills. (Selected only by 13%.)

"That's not to imply that getting people to go along with SOA governance is a walk on the beach. But in the experience of survey respondents, it appears to be significantly less of an issue than cultural, educational, and organizational challenges. If the introduction of SOA governance is the path (or at least a path) of least resistance in SOA adoption, doesn't it make sense to start there, rather than approaching governance s an afterthought?"

Bob's observations are in sync with various surveys I have been involved with in recent years, which 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.

Of course, as Bob points out, governance should start right from the get-go to assure that success in the first place.