Want to immerse yourself in tech minutiae? Ask a developer about his company’s SOA (service-oriented architecture) plans. After all, service-enabling application components and combining them to make new apps is a complex business. Yet according to Contributing Editor Phillip J. Windley, author of “Governing SOA”, the most critical piece of the SOA puzzle calls more on social than on technical expertise.
“Effective SOA governance -- the creation and enforcement of policies and procedures -- requires that you understand how your organization gets things done, and then figure out how to put SOA into that process,” says Windley. Implementation details will vary greatly across organizations, “depending on how they prioritize tasks and what they value.” Yet, ultimately, SOA governance entails changing people’s behavior. “And that requires vision, philosophy, and leadership,” he says.
A tall order of business, indeed, especially given how tricky it can be to develop in-house experts with the skills needed to handle SOA governance. Windley, a computer science professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, advises tapping your existing enterprise architecture group -- assuming one exists -- to lead the governance charge. Then, to get the group up to speed, there’s always training, conferences, even outside consultants. But be careful on that last count, Windley warns. “Eventually, you have to wean yourself off consultants” and make sure your internal group can handle things, he says.
If you like this no-nonsense approach to enterprise architecture, check out the upcoming InfoWorld SOA Executive Forum on March 16 in San Francisco, where Windley will lead the session on SOA governance. In addition to fleshing out the concepts explored in this week’s article, he’ll draw on his management experience as CIO of the State of Utah. If you’re looking for hands-on SOA advice, it would be hard to imagine a more experienced teacher.