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Is Technology Important for SOA Governance?

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Michael Stamback, who just started a new blog on SOA Governance, asked this question a couple of weeks ago.

According to Michael, a director of Product Marketing at Oracle,

governance is about affecting behavior in order to establish a sense of control over the environment...governance is a process that enforces standards, guidelines, and controls with the purpose of ensuring your SOA stays aligned with the business goals and objectives.  

This definition is well aligned with Todd Biske's definition.

Michael recommends

Everyone involved in the process must be aware of the business goals and objectives. 

Fostering the right culture in support of the governance process greatly increases your chance for success. 

Saba Pathyn noted in his blog last month that:

there is no way to instant “soafication” and it is a strategy that has to be put in place brick by brick where collaborations between various stakeholders and the infrastructure is of paramount importance. Doing SOA right simply boils down to effective governance mechanism in place.

Michael's colleagues argues that technology, such as a Registry and Repository, is equally important:

Providing visibility into assets and their dependencies while automating their progression through the different stages of the lifecycle is critical for obtaining the goal of business agility. 

Without visibility, there is no reuse, and automation of the lifecycle can greatly reduce the need for time intensive, manual compliance reviews, as these can be auto validated in order to progress SOA projects faster. 

They also added:

Governance doesn't stop after version 1 of an application or service is deployed.  Your SOA needs to ensure everything operates within the policies defined by the business requirements, so technology that automates this enforcement at runtime is essential. 

Additionally, your SOA is going to evolve, so you need the ability monitor the behavior of the elements of your SOA to not only ensure everything operates as intended, but also identify areas of improvement. 

Governance is certainly one of the most difficult part of SOA regardless of which technology you use, yet it can greatly impact the degree of success of your SOA initiative. What is your experience? Did the introduction technology helped your SOA Governance effort? or are the cultural and organizational issues simply too overwhelming?

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