Data Governance in SOA

Today, I’m going to take a look at SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) from a different angle that is often overlooked. SOA governance is sometimes an after thought, though critical to the enterprise.

SOA governance is best defined by Anne Thomas Manes as: “The processes that an enterprise puts in place to ensure that things are done … in accordance with best practices, architectural principles, government regulations, laws, and other determining factors. SOA governance refers to the processes used to govern adoption and implementation of SOA.”[1]

One of the risks that emerge as more and more applications become integrated is the spreading of bad data (e.g. invalid, incomplete, etc.). Misinformation and bad data constantly challenge organizations today. Engaging in SOA activities without consideration for governance is like opening up a four lane highway with no cops to patrol it. Controlling life cycles and versioning, governing people, policies, design-time, run-time and processes to establish and maintain desired behavior are examples of SOA governance.

Governance is critical to SOA success, but as part of that, you need data governance. Not only do you need to control the quality of service data but also to outline metadata storage and accessibility. A Data Governance Council should be an integral part of the SOA team. They should provide a comprehensive data map (authoritative sources, data flows and underlying data policies) to the SOA architects, and to plan and implement data sources, lookups, standards, business validations and enrichments that are all built-in and are available for applications across the enterprise.

Whether it’s outdated, out of sync, duplicated, or inaccurate, bad data is like the flu. Preventative measures need to be taken before you become infected, but you also need to prepare to stop the spread once you are infected. Effective SOA governance comes from effective data governance controlling the quality of data delivered through SOA services.

[1]Anne Thomas Manes, The Elephant Has Left The Building, 1 July 2005

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