Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Sematext Blog , Elizabeth White, Greg Ness, AppDynamics Blog, David H Deans

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, XML

SOA & WOA: Article

Agile SOA Governance in SMEs

While we need governance processes to make SOA work, the purpose of SOA is to help IT deliver value to the enterprise

The increased manageability, reliability, and opportunities for reuse promised by a SOA can only be fulfilled with an effective governance structure in place to coordinate service creation, maintenance, provisioning, and consumption.

However, many small and medium-sized organizations struggle when starting their service catalog due to the seeming contradiction between the strategic benefits of SOA and the often negative impact that governance can have on individual line-of-business project schedules. How do we get our projects done while building a service portfolio? This article proposes governance structures that embrace the tactical, project-centric nature of much of our work while acknowledging the strategic importance of services.

The Need for Governance
By definition, services are intended to be shared resources. Sharing resources among stakeholders without a system to govern their use can and often does lead to conflicts over resource management and utilization. Services need to be governed effectively to keep ROI high (e.g., by preventing the re-creation of the wheel) and meet SLAs (e.g., by ensuring that services are provisioned with appropriate computing resources to fulfill the needs of their consumers). Governance also enables enterprises to discover new service requirements and adapt to change.

The Need to Deliver
While we need governance processes to make SOA work, the purpose of SOA is to help IT deliver value to the enterprise. However, the enterprise generates revenue (or other value) through its lines of business (LOBs). It's fair to say that LOBs are the engines of the enterprise and technology projects are merely one of the means at their disposal to accomplish this end. Given this direct linkage to the enterprise's most visible efforts, the timely completion of LOB technology projects is critical.

Some books and articles on SOA suggest a complete realignment of the business in order to drive the efficiencies promised by service orientation. In this way of thinking, all development projects should be pipelined through a SOA governance process that enforces standards and ensures the quality of the architecture as the portfolio grows and changes.

Unfortunately, this approach often makes the incorrect assumption that there is no architectural governance in place already - whether formal or informal. Any new governance process must find its place within the already crowded landscape of formal and informal means of controlling technology projects in any enterprise, many of which have grown organically over time, compete for control, and perhaps impede project delivery to an extent not warranted by the value they add.

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), this may be especially problematic because they may not have the resources to staff such a process in a way that achieves its intent while enabling LOBs to execute their projects on time. Maybe they can't staff a distinct services team. Maybe they don't have enough architects to review every development activity without bringing development screeching to a halt. As a result, the SOA implementation may be undermined as LOBs lose confidence in the long-term vision of reduced costs and increased productivity. They ask the valid question of whether the current delays are having a bottom-line impact that may not be recovered until after SOA is replaced by the next IT buzzword. They haven't heard about Cloud Computing yet... shhhh.

If we assume that development teams are already delivering value to the LOBs they support then they are designing software that works well for the purposes of the LOB but may not be usable by other LOB development teams because it is tightly coupled, lacks the ability to scale, etc. The fact that this is inefficient at the enterprise level is not readily apparent to the LOB. These development teams are not necessarily looking for opportunities to deliver value to the enterprise - they are focused on their LOB. The perceived value of their work is high. Slowing down delivery of development projects to resolve an enterprise-level inefficiency is unlikely to be popular with the LOBs.

Approaches to resolving this dilemma typically involve driving change from the top and parallelizing all service development into a separate specialized team. This is rational and capitalizes on popular approaches to increasing development throughput (if ignoring Brooks' Law). With the CXOs on board, one would expect the outcome to be a well-resourced services team standing at the ready whenever needed to implement services in support of the main development team's efforts. However, the mission of this team is not to provide the best results for the LOB, but for the enterprise. To achieve this, the services team needs to be strategic in its creation of services. It must take the requirements of a given LOB team and research them to determine if they are already generic enough to work for other teams. It must assess the scalability and manageability issues of the service across consumers. In short, it must be careful. Being careful takes time. In a small enterprise, projects have short delivery timelines - often less than a year, very frequently one business quarter or less. How can the services team serve the mission of being careful while delivering in short timeframes?

Make It Work, Make It Right, Make It Fast
The job of governance is to help identify opportunities for increasing efficiency in the development of software across the enterprise. While the enterprise needs governance to help it realize the full value of a Service Oriented Architecture, we need to ensure that the governance is enabling not limiting. The focus should not be on preventing mistakes, but on encouraging success. Kent Beck's famous exhortation "Make it Work, Make it Right, Make it Fast" doesn't start with Make it Right because that leads to a quest for perfection in the absence of a completed work product. What if the organization identified a potential new service during the course of the normal work of a LOB development team, but allowed the team to continue its work implementing the new service for itself (perhaps even as a library) while tasking another team to determine whether the function(s) were worth expending the effort to turn into a service and planning that work? From the enterprise perspective, we would be starting to Make It Right even while the LOB was getting started Making It Work. This seems like the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, many governance models serialize the processes of governance and development - governance is a gate through which all projects (or even ideas) must pass. The creation or modification of a service has an enterprise impact and so must be carefully considered. It can get crowded at this gate and projects needed by the LOB can get stuck there while the governance team debates the merits of the project functions in relation to the SOA.

When the services have been identified, it is a common recommendation to pass the service requirements on to a team specializing in service creation / maintenance / management. This is another potential bottleneck as the delivery of services to the main project must be carefully coordinated to ensure the project delivers on time. A quality enterprise service that considers the needs of multiple stakeholders can take as long to design, implement, and test as the main project.

Agile SOA Governance
There is without doubt merit in both of the core concepts commonly presented in the context of SOA: the need for governance to coordinate on services; and the advantages of creating a team with skills and experience to focus on services. The problem is in the process that manages work across these expert groups and the line-of-business development teams. Figures 1-3 present alternative approaches to this flow.

In all of the alternatives presented, requirements are collected and passed through the filter of an architectural review panel which serves the governance board for services among other duties. This panel determines whether the project incorporates concepts that appear to be candidates for services. Some of these will have already been created and are planned for use in the project. Some will have already been created, but their use was overlooked by the analysis team. Still others will be candidates for the creation or modification of a service.

This review is meant to be light so as not to impede the flow of development as we make the assumption that we should first Make It Work and that opportunities to Make It Right and Fast will exist down the road. What happens after this filter determines how rapidly the project can be delivered and I would assert how successful the adoption of SOA will be in the enterprise.

Figure 1 presents a fairly conventional linear approach to the problem. If a service exists, its use is required and fed into the design phase of the relevant LOB development iteration. If it does not exist or is inadequate in its current form, the requirements are fed to the services team, which then goes through a standard development cycle of elaborating on the requirements in the enterprise context, designing a solution, developing and testing it, and finally deploying it for incorporation into the LOB development cycle. This can be problematic if the service is fundamental to the application, and development of other parts of the software is dependent on understanding and utilizing the service. The problem arises from the fact that the LOB development team is not aware of the service interface and other characteristics until the completion of the service project. Without careful planning, this may have the impact of serializing the services project and the LOB project, thereby undermining the intended effect of a separate services team.

Figure 2 takes the problem of late information and deals with it by providing earlier communication between the services and LOB teams. In this approach, the LOB team receives the planned interface for the service from the services team after it completes its design phase. Depending on approach, it may get more than just the interface. For example, it may get mocks, stubs, or tests as well. All of these things will help it move forward in developing the software in its system that depends on the service, thus decreasing the bottleneck effect. If during implementation, the interface needs to change, that should be communicated to facilitate the refactoring of dependent code. If the LOB team develops a local proxy or business delegate, this should make it easier to refactor. Later, when the service is fully implemented, integration testing can be performed. Nevertheless, the final integration testing and deployment are dependent on the completion of the services team's work. While we have provided more information earlier, allowing for a more adaptive and accurate approach to concurrent development, the enterprise work may still delay the LOB work.

The final approach depicted in Figure 3 assumes that the LOB development team can develop either a service or library itself locally that satisfies its needs for project work to proceed rapidly without dependencies across teams. Ideally, it will anticipate the creation of a service that will replace its local implementation and hide its implementation behind a business delegate. Whenever the services team completes its work, the LOB team should refactor to replace its implementation with the service. Communication between teams about evolving interface definitions will minimize later rework.

While the final approach is inefficient from the perspective that we have two teams concurrently working on developing very similar functions, both anticipate fulfilling the SOA vision. They understand that this is a tactical decision that minimizes the schedule risk of the LOB while enabling the enterprise to move in the direction of its strategic objectives.

On a project-to-project basis, organizations have to determine which of these processes is appropriate. Some enterprise services are more rapidly developed than others. The capabilities of development teams vary. The impact of a service on the application will depend on how core it is to the application. All of these variables factor into the decision-making process and help the organization devise the best approach.

More Stories By Chip Temm

Over the past decade, Chip Temm moved from North America to Europe and on to Africa where his company anthroLogik solutions provided analysis and development services organizations across seven timezones. He is currently back in Washington, DC where "remote development" means working from home and "wildlife" means raccoon.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...