Service Oriented Enterprise

Saturday, November 11, 2006

WebLayers Executes Asset Governance  

Last week I saw the latest demo from WebLayers on their 'Policy Based Governance Suite'. The demo hit home for one simple reason. They've done a great job of laying out the extended SDLC from a roles / assets perspective and determining 'what' needs to be governed at each stage.

Most of the vendors in the space have approached the governance problem from a registry perspective which is an important aspect, but not exactly a holistic view. WebLayers takes a methodology / lifecycle perspective. Their tooling allows you to plug your own process with roles (Business Analysis, Application Architecture, Service Design, etc.) and identify 'what' needs to be governed in each area - then, define the policies for each asset or artifact.
Example: The Design Stage includes a "Service Designer"; this person creates a "WSDL"; and all WSDL's have a policy that "Namespaces must be used".

They do this by using an interceptor model. In essence, they've created a 'governance bus'. WebLayers provides intermediaries that sit between the asset creation tool (schema designer, IDE, etc.) and the repository that will store the asset (version control, CMDB, etc.) This allows their tool to inspect the newly created assets just after they've been created, but before they've been sent to production. The policies are applied to the assets and results displayed (pass, fail, etc.) to the author.

I've been calling this type of governance, "Asset Governance" because the emphasis in on looking at the final output that is created and determining if it complies with enterprise policies. IMHO, Asset Governance is an essential component of any SOA program that utilizes an offshore element ("WSDL is the Offshore Contract").

The product was lighter on the other two type of Governance that I look for: Process Governance and Portfolio Governance. We sum it up like this:
- Portfolio Governance focuses on finding right problem (prioritization)
- Process Governance focuses on ensuring that all the right steps are taken
- Asset Governance focuses on ensuring that the output of the steps were performed in accordance with policy

I talked with the WebLayers team about the other two types of governance and received feedback that traditional I.T. Governance & Project Management packages might solve the problem (see, Most of these vendors built their products prior to the SOA era and have not gone back and revisited the functionality. They have not killed the "application as the unit of work" and moved to "the service as the unit of work" nor have they updated ROI formulas based on "shared services" (thus reducing investment, increasing ROI).

IMHO, the SOA Governance space will eventually find a nice intersection that includes both classic I.T. Governance, and the more modern "asset & process governance". It will be interesting to see which of the vendors will have the courage to tackle the end-to-end governance problem.

posted by jeff | 6:59 AM

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rejected Four Years Ago...  

I was at the Infoworld SOA event this week and and someone asked by about the use of ontologies in SOA. I haven't been asked about SOA ontologies in a LONG time... I had an immediate flashback to getting rejected by Web Services Journal to write an article on the subject...

Hi Jeff,
I sent your proposal to Sean Rhody for his review. At this time, we regret that we will be unable to accept this article for the magazine.

Gail, here is the abstract:
“Semantic Web Services”
The desire for computers to easily communicate has long been a goal of both computer scientists and businessmen, the latter recognizing the financial gain of seamless systems integration. Over time, this goal has been recognized through network standards like Ethernet, TCP/IP and HTTP. More recently the standardization has moved up the protocol stack. Now, XML is being used to add structure through tagging, which facilitates concept delineation and enumeration. Web Services build on this foundation and enhance the communication through additional features including object serialization/deserialization (SOAP), service registries (UDDI) and standardized service interfaces (WSDL).

Yet even with these advances computers still aren’t aware of the meaning of the text that is being sent, nor are they able to make any reasonable inferences about the data. Tim Berner Lee and the W3C have been tackling this problem through an initiative dubbed the “Semantic Web”. This initiative uncovers the semantic meanings of transactions allowing companies to use a common dictionary and also enabling like terms to be disambiguated (“Automobile == Car”).

The use of the Semantic Web for concept delineation and Web Services for interoperability is enabling a new bread of applications known collectively as, “Semantic Web Services”. This article will explore the state of semantic ontologies, business grammars and emerging commercial products.

Ok, the year was 2002, and I did refer to SOAP as an object serilization mechanism - perhaps it was appropriate for them to reject the article ;-) Now that we're approaching 2007 I believe that we'll start to hear more and more on this subject - who knows, maybe I'll resubmit the abstract!

posted by jeff | 12:08 PM