SOA vs. Web 2.0: Governance or Rogues?

Loraine Lawson

If you look beyond the nuts-and-bolts debates about enterprise applications, like the current confusion over ESBs, it's possible to discern two opposing forces shaping beliefs about the way software ought to be created.

 

On the one hand, there's SOA; on the other, Web 2.0.

 

Ironically, although SOA is a highly distributed architecture, it's also a highly centralized approach to software development. Governance is one of the hottest topics within SOA, and we have seen numerous articles over the past few months proclaiming that without governance, SOA initiatives are doomed. Gartner holds this view.

 

And governance, above all, means developers conforming to the dictates of a central authority. This is in sharp contrast to Web 2.0, which is profoundly anti-authoritarian.

 

The face of Web 2.0 in the enterprise is the wiki, and it's a prime example of this point. If you look at a wiki through the eyes of a senior administrator, you will see a database where anybody can edit a record without permission and without regard to any rules whatsoever. That's pretty much anarchy. But, according to one Harvard Business School professor, managers must take a hands-off approach to wikis if they are to work.


 

A company called Coghead is working on a Web 2.0 concept that's even more scary to IT: do-it-yourself software that can be used by "moderately technical people" to create mini-applications like departmental workflow.

 

The bottom line here is this: As IT leaders think about the kind of IT environment they want for their companies, they need to strike a balance between centralized authority and those pesky creative individuals who keep taking IT into their own hands.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 30, 2006 10:17 AM Mike Mike  says:
This is important and if often overlooked, but when the buzz diminishes people will be faced with real issues like governance.  Enterprises require tighter control, security, and reliability. In short they require a degree of governance that the average user building a Google Maps Mashup while sitting at their kitchen table doesn’t need. This should be no surprise to anyone who has worked for large organizations. Reply
Oct 1, 2006 3:26 AM Luis Luis  says:
What enterprises really need is not the possibility of having "rogue" developers creating ungoverned apps. Instead they require the "Web 2.0-like" possibility of allowing business analysts to create their own situational apps based on SOA services while maintaining centralized IT governance. This is a new type of application being called Rich Enterprise Applcitions (REA). E-week just talked about this in an interesting article. http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2022647,00.asp Reply
Oct 1, 2006 12:06 PM Enterprise Enterprise  says:
SOA vs. Web 2.0: Governance or Rogues? Ironically, although SOA is a highly distributed architecture, its also a highly centralized approach to software development. Governance is one of the hottest topics within SOA, and we have seen numerous articles over the past few months proclaiming Reply
Oct 3, 2006 5:39 AM Charles Charles  says:
The beauty of Coghead is that while it enables "rogue" developers, the system is designed so that the data used in these applications can be integrated into existing applications within the enterprise.  If IT wanted to support Coghead as an application environment, they could maintain centralized control of the applications available to users within the system, while also making sure the data schemas across various apps enable these applications to share information. Contrast this to what happens today - the "rogues" build something in Access DB (god forbid) which is very hard to track and control, and from which it is difficult to pull data and share it across applications.  Truly an island within an enterprise.What Luis describes above -  "Instead they require the "Web 2.0-like" possibility of allowing business analysts to create their own situational apps based on SOA services while maintaining centralized IT governance." - is exactly the Coghead approach. Reply

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