Yes, we still need design-time governance in the cloud

Service consumers still need to govern from the earliest stages of service lifecycles

Todd Biske, enterprise architect extraordinaire and author of SOA Governance: The Key to Successful SOA Adoption in Your Organization, recently weighed in on Dave Linthicum's remarks that cloud computing will soon kill design-time governance. Todd says there is an important role for design-time governance in the cloud.

Service consumers still need to govern from the earliest stages of service lifecycles

As Dave explains it, with cloud computing, it’s essential to have runtime service governance in place, in order to enforce service policies during execution. This is becoming a huge need as more organizations tap into cloud formations. “Today SOA is a huge reality as companies ramp up to leverage cloud computing or have an SOA that uses cloud-based services,” he says. “Thus, the focus on runtime service execution provides much more value.”

Todd says au contraire, while runtime governance is very important to cloud computing, it's critical to be able to manage services across their entire lifecycles, from the earliest phases of the service contract. Todd says the issue may be Dave’s definition of design-time governance, which is one many in the industry apply -- the "notion that design-time governance is only concerned with service design and development." Todd notes that governance should actually be thought of in three timeframes; "pre-project, project, and runtime."  As he explains it:

"There’s a lot more that goes on before runtime than design, and these activities still need to be governed. It is true that if you’re leveraging an external provider, you don’t have any need to govern the development practices. You do, however, still need to govern the processes that led to the decision of what provider to use; The processes that define the service contract between you and the provider, both the functional interface and the non-functional aspects; and the processes executed when you add additional consumers at your organization of externally provided services."

I'll add to the discussion that many organizations -- and departments within organizations -- are becoming both providers and consumers of services. Some organizations or vendors will still publish more than they consume, others will consume more than they publish. But the lines are getting blurrier all the time.