If SOA is all the rage at the moment, then SOA Governance is the most frequently used term related to it as far as I can see.
All the vendors, and many analysts, are talking about SOA Governance as the big issue, and tools are rapidly appearing to help with this governance issue.
I am wondering, however, if there may be an ulterior motive here. In business parlance, governance is an important word – it is definitely seen as more business than technical. So, is the word being hi-jacked by vendors keen to try to find yet another way to hook into the business world in order to secure the budget commitment to make product purchases? What is really meant by governance?
Governance seems to be all about defining expectations, controlling and granting powers, and measuring results. Funny that it is the root of the word Government, and a cynic might argue that these are three things that most Governments do NOT do well, but there you go. Anyway, in SOA tools terms this follows on to a number of different areas – project management tools / SLAs, security and management. Notice that these are implications at the tools level; some of the biggest aspects of governance are actually at the management process/procedure policy level.
If you now look at vendors claiming to play in the governance space, offerings typically fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Technical management tools – administration, systems monitoring, statistics
- Business management tools – SLAs, BAM, KPI management, dashboards
- Security tools – user authentication, authorization
- Project management tools – requirements management, policy enforcement
- Planning/education/training services to build the relevant knowledgebase and skills
In my view, the outcome of all of this is that it does not help to keep preaching about SOA governance, unless you offer answers to all these areas. I would find it much more helpful for vendors to say that they sell management tools, or business monitoring, or professional services, or project management assistance. The problem today is vendors are so desperate to hook into the business community that everything is lumped together as governance.
Is it any wonder users are confused about what they are being offered, and how it fits to what they want?