Jun 21, 2010

We Don’t Centralize That


lifecycle-diagram I was recently working with a client on SOA governance / service management.  They’ve build several hundred enterprise services and major integration points, and trying to manually manage them through a web site (or Excel spreadsheet or the brains of the integration department people) is just getting out of hand.

This isn’t so unusual, it’s become the classic SOA design time governance problem encountered 2-3 years into the SOA maturity cycle.  While there are those claiming SOA Governance is dead, focused on Design Time Governance (I guess this would be a subset argument of the SOA is Dead punditry), the problem keeps cropping up in Enterprise IT.

To be fair to the (Design Time) Governance is Dead argument, few organizations have successfully deployed SOA design time governance.  It’s extremely tricky to insert a tool that touches so many points of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) into the process and not have it rejected or avoided.  It requires adjustments to the enterprise SDLC, a well defined process that provides and demonstrates direct (and early) benefits to each of the roles of the users, and balancing of the overhead it adds against the benefits to make sure adoption occurs.  In other words, some carrots, some sticks, some enforcement, and some internal sales and ongoing demonstration of value is necessary to make it part of the organization culture.  Without those efforts, the tool may survive for some cataloging purposes but the Design Time Governance implementation will be a failure.

Stored Procedure So back to my client.  As we gathered the requirements and reviewed their SDLC process, I encountered the database people.  I invite them to Design Time Governance requirements gathering for two reasons.  First, most design time management tools include general reuseable “asset” management capabilities – and therefore the tool can serve more than just web services but other reusable enterprise components such as stored procedures. 


Second, the database people are often a valuable resource relative to Design Time Governance, as web service reusable assets follow a similar model and SDLC as stored procedures.  Those enterprises using sophisticated stored procedures have to develop IT processes for cataloging them, maintaining a list of who’s using them, who supports them, and what they do.  While various IT enterprises are at different levels of sophistication on stored procedures, almost every database group instinctively understands the issues relating to stored procedure reuse and sharing.  Therefore the database group’s example can be held up either as a model to pattern for services, something to be understood and taken to the next level for services, or at least have some people at the table that can provide some concrete examples to which the rest of IT can relate.

So at this customer the database people arrived for the requirements discussion and I began asking my standard questions about how they manage shared stored procedures.  They responded, “we don’t”.  Ok, not so unusual to find no management (unfortunately).  I asked a few more questions to understand if they thought an asset repository would help them.

They expounded, “We don’t DO stored procedures. Since we don’t have any way (tools or methodology) for managing a shared object, we require our applications to keep their logic and complex SQL in their code.  This prevents any management issues associated with reusable objects in the database.”

That was a first.  They don’t do stored procedures because they can’t manage reuse.  Wow.

I guess there’s a certain wisdom there.  No deployment and dependency confusion.  No unexpected change impact.  No confusion of ownership or support.  They keep their environment clean by eliminating the ability that could confuse it.

Still, that was a first.

(It’s possible the first graphic was borrowed from Weblayers – a pretty cool SOA vendor, on this page.  Then again, it came up on a Google image search without the page, so I can’t say for certain where Google handed it over from :-)