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Horizontal and Vertical SOA Governance

by Jean-Jacques Dubray on Jan 22, 2009 |

Rick Sweeney, an Enterprise Architecture consultant, shared his views on getting started with SOA Governance.

He explains that:

The problem is how do you transform a culturally entrenched legacy process of governance based in traditional “stove-pipe” application design to a process that achieves the benefits of SOA?

The answer is “horizontal” and “vertical” governance approach.

As a matter of fact, he defines governance's mission as:

“To never let how we process business dictate how we conduct business.”

In his views, the former is the responsibility of the Service Provider Domain and the latter is responsibility of the Service Consumer Domain. This means that

The vertical (service provider) governance is focused on building services that accurately and efficiently maintain the “logical to physical” relationship between each constructed service and the physical legacy applications and data stores supporting the service.


The horizontal (service consumer) governance is focused on how those services are delivered to the consumer in an efficient and engaging manner that results in a positive experience for the consumer. They are responsible for governing the delivery of services consistent with the corporate mission, strategy and business plans.

Rick also sees the need for a third component: the Enterprise SOA Governance group. Its role is to:

They ensure that the needs of both service providers and service consumers are met. They are also responsible for validating that all enterprise level requirements like Security and Service Level Agreements are met.

Horizontal governance should be responsible for the presentation layer, the delivery channel layer and the business process layer, while Vertical Governance should focus on the business service layer, the integration layer and the legacy infrastructure layer.

For Rick,

The most critical value of this split between horizontal and vertical governance is that it creates a barrier to force the governance participants away from traditional “stove pipe” thinking.

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