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A Policy Reference Model

We had such fun doing the SOA reference model (we have just had a successful vote to go to Committee Specification status) that I thought we might be able to repeat the exercise in a different domain.

The primary benefit of the RM4SOA was that it establishes a common technology-neutral way of talking about Service Oriented Architecture. Precisely because we didn't take a stand on the technology meant that it was less useful to potential SOA vendors (who want to know what to implement) and more useful to everyone else (who want to know what all the fuss is about).

I see a similar need and potential for Policy. Policies are becoming more and more visibly important; specifically declaratively stated policies. The reason is clear enough: who do you want to be setting the policy in your organization: you (or another relevant stakeholder) or the programmer who built the system that you are trying to use.

Explicit, declaratively written policies are a key technique for putting decision making power back in the hands of ordinary people; without requiring that they be alpha computer-geeks.

A Reference model for Policy would identify the key concepts around policies and policy frameworks (such as policy language, policy decision point, policy subject and so on). This should be expressed in a way that is neutral to specific technology proposals.

Like the RM4SOA, a carefully written RM4Policy would establish a common language for policies that could get a lot of traction in the industry.

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