SOA Governance Gets Real

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2006-01-30 Print this article Print

Opinion: Biggest gaps identified by SOA users may soon be filled.

Service-oriented architecture development can be successful to a fault if service developers are empowered to create and publish services more quickly than service consumers can identify and compose them into applications. Developments announced today by Systinet hold out the promise that SOA governance is coming into balance with service creation.

I spoke in advance of the companys launch announcement with Systinet VP Jake Sorofman, who warned that "Without governance, SOA has the potential to go sideways: to introduce diseconomies and disrupt business processes. End applications depend on services; when services are changed, theres a cascading effect. Were ensuring that you have complete control from initiation to final retirement, that you can analyze the impact of change," Sorofman said.

The companys newly released Systinet 2 platform combines a suite of governance applications with a metadata registry that Sorofman called "the store of record" for service publication. The 2.0 version of Systinets Policy Manager application, which works with that registry to maintain conformance and consistency standards, will go into beta at this time for general release this quarter, he said.

I also spoke with Kris Zywicki, enterprise architect in IT Governance at Dow Corning, who spoke of what he called "departmental" service development there during the past two years: "three or four groups, whose work was not visible to the rest of the company," he amplified, adding, "Were solving the problem of visibility, preventing duplication of effort, promoting reuse." He stressed the role of SOA in general corporate governance as well as its IT implications: "The process of publishing and discovering Web services that Systinet has put in place will address composite applications and help us deal with compliance and regulatory issues," he said.

Zywicki added that Dow Corning expects to benefit from Systinets role as a neutral party in the platform wars: "Were both .Net and Java—thats one of the reasons why were looking at a neutral platform like Systinet. Its a wonderful fit into our infrastructure," he said. Dow Cornings existing services, he explained, have mostly been developed for what he called "point-to-point" information delivery, rather than application composition: He hopes now to pursue the latter and potentially rewarding kind of project.

Looking at the SOA tools available as of last year, application delivery director Ben Moreland at The Hartford Financial Services Group said that "they look to developers to create the WSDL [Web Services Description Language] that goes into the UDDI [Universal Description, Discovery and Integration] registry, and from my perspective, thats backward. We should have tools that enable the businesspeople to create the service interface, and the developers consume that," said Moreland in a round-table discussion with SOA technology vendors and users convened by eWEEK Labs. Thats among the challenges likely to foster interest in Systinet 2 and to propel continuing evolution of both Systinets and competitors SOA technologies.

Tell me what your developers are tired of consuming at out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in Web services.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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