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Subject: Another approach for describing SOA governance

Michael Poulin keeps asking the obvious question of why what we are modeling is SOA governance instead of just a general treatise on governance.  It seemed to me an approach might be to go back to SOA-RM to see what are the key pieces of SOA we are attempting to govern.  From that exercise, I would like to submit the following:

There is nothing in a general governance model that specifically makes it SOA.  This should not be surprising because governance has been in existence to some degree or other as long as there have been creatures which had to interact.  The model we have been developing for governance makes it abundantly clear that SOA governance is an instantiation, not a new concept.


Our definition of SOA governance first considers the concepts and relationships as described in the OASIS SOA Reference Model:


Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a paradigm for organizing and utilizing distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains. 


A service is a mechanism to enable access to one or more capabilities, where the access is provided using a prescribed interface and is exercised consistent with constraints and policies as specified by the service description.


From a dynamic perspective, there are three fundamental concepts that are important in understanding what is involved in interacting with services: the visibility between service providers and consumers, the interaction between them, and the real world effect of interacting with a service.


In support of the dynamics of interacting with services are a set of concepts that are about services themselves. These are the service description, the execution context of the service and the contracts and policies that relate to services and service participants.


From this, we may infer that governance in a SOA context is that organization of services that promotes their visibility, that facilitates interaction between service participants, and that enforces that the results of service interactions are those real world effects as described within the service description and constrained by policies and contracts as assembled in the execution context.  


SOA governance must specifically account for control across different ownership domains, i.e. all the participants may not be under the jurisdiction of a single governance authority.  However, for governance to be effective, the participants must agree to recognize the authority of a certain set of Decision Makers and must operate within the Governance Framework and through the Governance Processes so defined. 


Being distributed and representing different ownership domains, a SOA participant is likely under the jurisdiction of multiple governance domains simultaneously and may individually need to resolve consequent conflicts.  The governance domains may specify precedence for governance conformance or it may fall to the discretion of the participant to decide on the course of actions they believe appropriate.


Given the goals of SOA governance and the circumstances under which we expect it to operate, there are several primary implications for a SOA reference architecture.




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