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Pragmatic SOA Governance

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In an article on SOA Governance, Ross Mason, CTO and Co-Founder, MuleSource, says that in today's world, the traditional top-down philosophy for SOA is outmoded and outdated and urges for a more practical real-world approach to governance and SOA in general.

Mason explains that traditionally companies have an "SOA competency center", which is 

a centralized office responsible for evangelizing, coordinating, enforcing, and measuring SOA efforts across the enterprise. This team would ideally create and execute a coordinated enterprise-wide SOA plan, cataloging services and enforcing/measuring reuse through software tools such as an SOA registry/repository.

He notes that this approach has proven ineffective and quotes a study at the Burton Group suggesting only 20 percent of organizations are seeing the anticipated benefits from enterprise SOA initiatives. He asks the question “So why do organizations continue struggling so mightily to succeed with SOA?” despite the investment in governance tools and technologies that have been around for years. He attributes the failure to the significant behavioral change required by the people in order to use these tools. Instead, he recommends (quoting Martin Fowler) that tools adapt to the people and existing processes and then goes on to cite examples of how that might be accomplished. 

  • An SOA governance tool should be integrated with a version control system […]
  • The tool should […] automatically publishing services to the registry/repository as a part of the release cycle 
  • If the tool is then also integrated with the bug tracking system, critical bugs can be bubbled-up […]
  • [An] enterprise architect's lengthy requirements document can and should be implemented as automated policies. [leading to increased adherence to requirements and] reducing development times without significantly changing the development process.

In a related blog post he also gives concrete examples how one might do this using MuleSource products, and emphasizes that SOA governance needs to be re-thought especially in the context of 

[…] evolution of SOA and the arrival (and proliferation) of more pragmatic approaches (e.g. REST, SaaS, Web 2.0, enterprise mashups, etc.) [… and at the end of the day] good SOA governance tools should […] make Operations staff's lives easier [not harder].

Be sure to check out the original article as well as the blog post.

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