The Smart SOA continuum
IBM has created an approach to implementing SOA over time. This Smart SOA approach is based on understanding that implementing SOA takes time. It allows businesses to start small and grow their SOA in the future.
Many customer SOA implementations demonstrate that SOA Governance is a critical success factor in achieving service reuse and agility. This article describes how governance can be accomplished in three stages that align with the Smart SOA stages.
These are the central tenets of the Smart SOA principles:
The Smart SOA approach is a set of guiding principles based on thousands of real-life deployments and experiences with SOA. It is not a product customers can buy, nor does it require abandoning existing, dependable investments. It is a way of leveraging the value of SOA deployments, regardless of whether a basic approach, an advanced approach, or an approach somewhere in between makes the most sense for a given business situation.
Levels of governance also build from basic to advanced
Just as the Smart SOA guiding principles progress from basic to intermediate and advanced stages, SOA governance needs to take a parallel approach of allowing customers to start with a basic level of governance to support the basic level of a Smart SOA project, and to add governance capabilities as needed to match the level of Smart SOA maturity over time.
Two fundamental aspects of effective SOA governance are required at every stage. The first involves the processes established by an organization to determine who is empowered to make certain decisions. The second includes the mechanisms and policies that are used by the organization to measure and control the way those decisions are implemented. IBM’s approach to the governance of Smart SOA projects addresses both requirements.
Basic stage: Assess and establish initial SOA environment
When getting started with SOA, most businesses already have a number of both Web and non-Web services in production and being run. As a first step, companies need to find out what the current services environment looks like. This will be the starting point for moving to SOA. However, moving to SOA requires not just technical changes, but also organizational changes and training.
The focus areas for this stage are:
Intermediate stage: Support key business opportunities
Once the SOA environment has been created at a foundational level, it is time to start getting increased reuse and agility value from SOA. At this intermediate stage of governance, it is important to be able to answer several key questions, such as who decides on the prioritization of services, who owns the services, and how are they funded.
The products and services developed in the first stage are still available, and additional functionality can be implemented in those products. The intent of Smart SOA and governance principles is that each phase builds upon the prior phase.
The focus areas at this stage encompass creating an end-to-end governance process, and creating the organizational and cultural change needed for long-term success of SOA.
Advanced stage: Enhance cross-organizational adoption
Finally, once a company has moved to the advanced level of a Smart SOA implementation, governance needs to expand to provide a more cross-organizational view. The initial SOA efforts tend to be focused within a vertical group such as one division of a company. As the usage of SOA expands, it becomes a more horizontal effort across the entire company. This puts additional pressure on governance to be more automated, and to allow changes and communication to happen more quickly.
The focus at this stage is on improving the overall governance environment, including making sure SOA governance is aligned with both corporate and IT governance. It means being able to create a measurement and reporting environment that works horizontally across the company. This environment must be able to handle problems as quickly and as automatically as possible.
The focus areas for this stage are:
Across all stages: End-to-end quality management
Services need to be high quality from day one when implementing SOA. Quality management is important from the start of an SOA implementation. Increasing levels of quality management will be needed at each stage of the Smart SOA continuum.
No matter where you are in your Smart SOA journey, there is a level of SOA governance that is designed to fit your requirements to achieve the SOA promise of value of service reuse and agility.