SOA governance: We have a problem

Users seem to know they have an SOA governance problem, but they remain unsure as to how to fix it, according to Software AG's Miko Matsumura.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) project leaders are taking the first step toward better governance as they recognize they have a problem.

People are addicted to messed up IT.
Miko Matsumura
vice president and deputy CTOSoftware AG

Borrowing a metaphor from addiction recovery programs, that is how Miko Matsumura, vice president and deputy CTO for Software AG, characterizes the current state of SOA governance. His conclusions are based on a survey of Software AG customers, "Best Practices for SOA Governance Survey," released today.

"People are addicted to messed up IT," Matsumura said in discussing the survey results. But the good news is they have passed the first step to recovery, recognizing they have a problem.

"The survey seems to pretty clearly indicate that the majority, in fact the overwhelming majority, of people have made the first step toward recovery," Matsumura said. "There is a very predominate theme in the survey that indicates that everybody seems to recognize that good governance is needed."

The next step is to realize that the problem is something you cannot solve on your own. The chocolate addict, for example, may recognize that just throwing candy bars out the window is not enough. That and past attempts to curb the bad habit aren't working.

Similarly, Matsumura said, "The majority in the survey recognize that their own efforts in SOA governance were either non-existent or immature."

For those addicted to messed up Web services, Matsumura suggests that they have to recognize that trying to maintain a registry using Microsoft Excel is not enough. The need for more sophisticated tools is leading the vendors in the SOA space to rush to offer more governance products, he said.

He said a lot of vendors in the SOA space are increasing their emphasis on governance because their customers are "crying uncle."

"We've reached an inflection point in the market where enough people are not trying to fake their way through SOA governance," Matsumura said. "They're coming to the sobering realization that they've got to do it and they've got to do it properly."

But based on the survey results, the next step, which covers what needs to be done with what tools, is not clear yet to many in the IT world, he pointed out.

"What you're seeing is an interesting gap between recognition, and understanding of what they need to do, and what is actually being done," Matsumura said.

That next step, which appears to be happening now, is about figuring out how to take the available registry/repository products and other governance tools, going beyond the theories of best practices and actually making SOA governance work.

The survey of 178 Software AG customers conducted in April and May points out that as with any other recovery program, that next step has support but also faces obstacles, as it noted:

  • Key inhibitors included lack of skills, complexity and business support/ROI model
  • Core resources – IT support, budget, tools, standards – appear to be in place
  • Actual and anticipated budget outlays are relatively modest
  • Lack of direct CIO involvement in steering committees is a glaring oversight
  • Users have made little headway in accounting for SOA costs

Neither Matsumura nor the survey offer answers as to how all these issues will be resolved into practical best practices for SOA governance.

For more information
SOA policy: Enterprise logic vs. application logic

Gartner: SOA governance remains crucial

As the survey authors wrote: "Due to the early stage nature of the governance market, many unanswered questions exist as widely adopted and disseminated best practices are only beginning to emerge."

As the old cliché goes: The next step is a doozy.

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