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IBM Debuts SOA Governance Help

Customers can choose from about 40 IBM products to help invoke, manage, and reuse Web services and set overall policies for service-oriented architectures.

Hoping to hasten the adoption of its service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategies, IBM on Wednesday announced a governance solution made up of best practices and methods to help users with issues such as decision rights and the policies that control those decisions.

Called SOA Governance, the solution lets users and VARs choose from about 40 IBM-based products, including the recently announced WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. That product allows users to access and manage service metadata used in the selection of invocation, management and reuse of services within an SOA.

"We have been building out this SOA story for a while now, and the issue that comes up time and time again is, 'How do I manage it or how do I manage the transformation of my organization around it?' This solution goes toward addressing that," says Danny Sabbah, general manager of IBM's Rational Software division.

Some analysts believe the announcement is well-timed given the increasing awareness of IT serving as the stronghold for all of a company's critical data, leading to the need for IT to have its own set of governance rules.

"Over the past 18 months, people have become very interested in the notion of IT governance as a way to make sure their information is correct, information they are legally responsible for," says Amy Wohl, president of Wohl Associates. "It is an important issue."

The move is also appropriate given the growing strategic significance of SOA from a development standpoint, particularly for the code that will be reused.

"If you have SOA as your main development construct for the next five to seven years, [governance] is particularly important because if you do not have rules for where you are putting code and under what circumstances you can use the code, or what the standards are for reusing it, there is no other way to make that happen," Wohl says.

Some of the offerings that are part of Wednesday's announcement include the SOA Governance and Management Method, which will be available through IBM's Business Consulting Services. This helps users map out their requirements, policies and procedures to form better business plans based on SOA.

Another offering is the SOA Governance plug-in for IBM's Rational Method Composer. This offering helps users and VARs select governance best practices from the IBM Business Consulting Services, which are then packaged as reusable assets and delivered as part of the Rational Method Composer.

A third offering is the IBM Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database, which is capable of automatically discovering and managing information about a client's IT environment, including technical resources, configuration items and user identities.

Using these latest products as momentum, IBM is hoping to broaden the industry's definition of SOA governance. Sabbah contends that many confine it to a finite set of products and capabilities that center largely around registries.

"A lot of people think if you have a registry, you are all set with SOA governance," he says. "The nature of this announcement says we have one of those, too, but it is also about monitoring infrastructure, managing projects and a set of capabilities around product and services lifecycles."

The Rational Method Composer plug-in will be available in this year's second quarter, priced at $395 per user. The WebSphere Service Registry and Repository will be available in the second half of this year; pricing will be determined at that time. The Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database will also be available in the second quarter with pricing to be set on delivery.

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