SOA Talk

Feb 11 2008   9:45AM GMT

Is there a better way to say SOA governance?

StorageSwiss George Crump Profile: StorageSwiss

At SearchSOA.com we spend a fair amount of time writing about the importance of governance and how you aren’t likely to succeed with service orientation unless you put a solid governance model around those efforts.

Yet let’s be honest, the term “SOA governance” sucks. It reeks of someone else telling you what to do, hectoring you over every little detail of a project. It sounds about as desirable as a colonoscopy with an IMAX camera.

It’s a particularly sticky term here in the U.S.A. We don’t like a lot of governance. In fact, we get uppity when we think we’ve been placed under the yoke of too much governance. We’ll dump your tea in the harbor when that happens. In fact, you can be sure many project teams have formed some unprintable thoughts about governance without representation.

That said, can we admit that stovepipe application development leads to needless duplication of effort and that it actually prevents businesses from pursuing new opportunities? Being a cowboy sure sounds like fun, but if that’s what you want, then go buy a horse. If you want to work for a company with stockholders/investors and a comprehensive benefits package, then maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider how what you do affects the bottom line.

At the end of the day, that’s the crux of SOA governance – let’s put a little organization around all these disjointed IT efforts in order to make them more profitable. I suspect everyone whose hackles rise at the sound of the word “governance” would agree with that statement. No one wants to be the square peg begging for a hammering. Beyond that, who doesn’t want their work to be considered valuable?

The rub comes in how to sum up all of the things that exist under the heading of SOA governance in a term that doesn’t cause automatic resentment. As ZapThink’s David Linthicum noted recently, SOA governance encompasses a lot of import facets in application development and management. We need to call it something. I’ve heard “productivity” and “business value” tossed around as replacement terms, but those still sound a bit too buzzwordy.

As a believer in the wisdom of humans, though, I figure someone out there has come up with a term preferable to SOA governance. Feel free to inundate us with suggestions. We’ll pool them together and then put together a poll to see which one our readers prefer. Who knows, maybe we’ll come up with something that sounds more like something you want to do and less like something someone else is forcing you to do (or trying to sell you).

5  Comments on this Post

 
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  • StorageSwiss
    While the term "goverance" may connotate big brother, the ultimate goal is for the business to have a clear view of the IT effort. They want to make sure they are getting value for the money spent. I propose "SOA Visability" or any other term that implies "pulling back the curtain to see what's going on."
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  • StorageSwiss
    The isssue isn't the term. The last thing the industry needs is a new term. The real problem stems from two issues: 1) "Run-time" SOA management vendors co-opting the use of the term and nobody having the stones to call them on the fact that management and governance are two very different albeit complementary sets of capabilities. End-to-end run-time governance is an artificial and convenient reference for people trying to sell you a management solution. It's like saying that your business is open 24/7, 365 days a year (between the hours of 8 and 11AM). It may be true, but it's irrelevant. 2) So-called pundits like Mr. Linthicum and yourself spending near-zero time learning about what the essence of governance is and abusing the usage of the terminology by spouting off about needing some new term. Corp. Governance in general - and IT Governance more specifically (which is a superset of SOA Governance), are well known disciplines. Linthicum abuses the term by liberally interchanging references to a discipline (i.e. SOA Governance) when describing types of technologies (and their capabilities) that support the discipline. This is unacceptable coming from accomplished architect and renowned writer such as Mr. Linthicum. The problem with SOA Governance isn't that we need a new term. What's needed is for so-called experts to stop talking about what we need and start listening to what works and startunderstanding what's already know. ...stop re-discovering Antarctica!!!
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  • StorageSwiss
    The "Big Brother" connotations of SOA Governance have bothered me for a while. At design time, what is needed is a shared understanding of the architecture principles, frameworks, standards and best practices used within your organisation for for providing and consuming Services. How do you ensure that this shared understanding is a) communicated effectively, b) understood and c) implemented by all. This goes way beyond technology solutions and encompasses the overall development culture. Tools can help - but they should be an enabling framework rather than a enforcing roadblock.
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  • StorageSwiss
    Can we come up with a new term for "so-called?" The assertaion that "Corp. Governance in general - and IT Governance more specifically... are well known disciplines." is not true in the majority of companies with which I have consulted. It's as though they are watching the Discovery Channel for the first time.
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  • StorageSwiss
    I understand the reaction people have to the phrase. Still, I've wound my way around and around this thing and keep coming back to it. We have a phrase at Software AG webMethods which is "Liberate and Govern", which are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps "regulate" might be a better word, but if we're planning to ditch "govern" we had better move to something a lot better. Regulate doesnt really get me excited either. The interdependencies in SOA drive complex systems and therefore emergent behavior. Governance as a term fails to capture the essence of the notion of complex behaviors made emergent by the use of simple rules of engagement. I've been favoring the word "Coordination" lately, which evokes a flock of geese or ordered "swarm" behaviors.
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