SOA governance: Preventing rogue services

One analyst's guide to managing complex service-oriented architectures.

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An SLM console is the principal run-time monitoring and administration node for SOA governance. SLM consoles also support real-time visualization and control of the end-to-end behavior of an SOA in run-time. Enterprises can deploy consoles in centralized or decentralized configurations and can access them through browsers, SOAP interfaces, vendor-proprietary GUIs or other means.

Enterprise IT can integrate SLM consoles into broader management suites that also handle application, system or network management. Enterprises usually deploy SLM consoles in conjunction with registries or repositories of administrator-defined SLAs and other policies. Increasingly, SLM consoles connect to distributed agents through Web Services Distributed Management, a set of Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards standards.

SLM pure plays include Actional (a unit of Progress Software), AmberPoint, Reactivity and SOA Software (which recently acquired another pure play, Blue Titan). Platform vendors with SLM tools or embedded functionality include BEA, HP, IBM Tivoli, Oracle and webMethods. Tibco has announced plans to include SLM and a UDDI registry in its Project Matrix SOA/ESB offerings later this year.

SOA platform vendors will continue to add comprehensive SLM features to their product architectures, as well as such ESB features as dynamic content-based routing and distributed transactions.

To address scalability and performance, more vendors will begin packaging SLM agents as hardware appliances. IBM's DataPower Technology group is a pioneer in the SLM appliance market. Other vendors, such as Cisco with its Application-Oriented Networking (AON) product family, will provide intermediary appliances that operate as PEPs for run-time SOA governance. Appliances enable run-time governance tools to "allocate [million instructions per second] flexibly through an SOA based on changing workloads," says Bill Ruh, managing director of Cisco's AON services team.

But fundamentally, SOA governance comes down to corporate culture, not technological plumbing. Enterprises also will need to sustain an IT governance culture that encourages maximum service reuse, through a full slate of SOA-focused training, incentives, visual development tools and best practices. Corporate-standard policies and design patterns must be embedded in development tools, and instilled through an all-pervading IT ethos. And the IT culture always must be driven by the business governance environment, leveraging reusable services to maximize return, agility, visibility and accountability.

A well-governed SOA provides a platform to harness the organization's full resources for competitive advantage. The alternative is a mess of myriad, scattered, poorly integrated services operating at cross-purposes.

Kobielus is a principal analyst at Current Analysis. He can be reached at 703-340-8134 or Tune into his blog at The opinions expressed are his own.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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