BEA tries to add governance layer to enterprise SOA projects

TORONTO – Companies that are hitting a few bumps in their service-oriented architecture strategies will soon see how effective governance comes into play to ensure projects stay on track and continue to deliver value, according to speakers at BEA Systems‘ SOA Governance seminar Tuesday morning.

Most organizations are in the same boat, said Robert Ashall, partner with Softworx Technology Group in Toronto. They’re starting to deploy services (averaging around 25 to 40) and they’re starting to get some reuse. “But how do we get this thing cranked up?” he said. “It’s only useful if you get reuse.”

Softworx provides “best-of-breed” software to the Canadian marketplace with a focus on SOA-based solutions. AmberPoint is one of these solutions, which provides runtime governance and SOA management capabilities. This includes service discovery, management of service delivery, as well as insight into services, business transactions and processes. It validates updated services before re-deploying them into production, and provides auditing, logging and diagnosing of systems in production.

In some cases, a company’s services go down and they don’t know why, said Ashall, and this is a big problem out there. The best way to control this, he said, is through policies.

“We’re gathering all this information so you can go in and make operational decisions and make policies for when things go awry,” he said.

AmberPoint can be used to automatically enforce governance, he said. One customer, for example, had thousands of developers but didn’t know what services were available for reuse. It’s now able to keep track of its services, report any rogue services and even has a top 10 list of services in reuse. Suddenly, reusability is front and centre, he said. “They’ve built the control and trust that allows them to get to do reuse.”

Another challenge is to get the support of management for a large-scale SOA rollout. But, even when broken down into projects, it’s hard to get the enterprise to think at a project-based level.

“SOA success is through people, processes and technology,” said Jay Holmstrom, director of technology with BEA’s Great Lakes Office in Cleveland, Ohio. “It’s not a developer-only issue.”

But a lot of organizations suffer from this, he added. “They leave it to developers to decide what services to provide.” But developers don’t always know how services affect the rest of the organization, or if they’re being used as originally planned.

BEA’s AquaLogic Enterprise Repository (ALER) is the framework it uses to provide enterprise-wide visibility into an organization’s liquid assets. ALER is designed to automate and evergreen, or constantly update, information.

BEA provides a simple URL-based integration link into AmberPoint (with plans to take that further). AmberPoint is able to provide statistics on performance, determine any problems that affect the goals of the organization and, if necessary, put up flags.

“We think of services as assets and they really don’t exist in isolation,” said Jacob Shapiro, systems engineer with BEA in Chicago. The goal, ultimately, is governance, in order to make SOA work the way it’s supposed to. Companies can then prescribe services or assets, and use or reject them – if rejected, they can find out why, and then make appropriate changes.

“We build enough quality into services so it runs the way it’s supposed to,” said Shapiro. After all, he added, if it’s not current, it’s not usable.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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