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Governance and SOA

IBM has some interesting thoughts and papers on Governance in the context of SOA. This is clearly an important topic: let's get it right this time is my feeling. (If you need an example of what can go wrong when these issues are not properly thought through just consider the email fiasco: SPAM is essentially a throw back to an era before there were stamps on envelopes and only the rich could afford to receive a letter.)

However, IBM's stance appears to focus on what we (the OASIS SOA Reference Architecture committee) call the “Enterprise SOA”. In contrast to the situation where there is an easily definable corporate body that owns the SOA, the “Internet SOA” corresponds to the real Internet. In the Internet SOA there are no governing authorities to set up nice committees to decide what can and cannot be published.

However, just because there is no Big Sibling does not mean that governance is not a critical issue for Internet-scale SOAs. We simply have to find another way.

It is said that European law was based on a pre-existing body of 'Merchant Law'. This was an era of very limited central government, city states and a surprising amount of international trade. Without a recognized legal framework, merchants were forced to settle disputes among themselves. Much like the Internet today.

Anyway, we are looking for the right architectural hooks on which to hang governance and related concepts.

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