We came almost to the end in this series of entries dedicated to SOA principles. In this one, we will deal with the seventh SOA principle: service discoverability.
This principle is quiet evident, but not least important. In the field of software development there are many good practices as evident as scarce, so we will not make the mistake of not giving this principle the importance it deserves.
The principle of service discoverability refers to the essential need for our SOA Services Catalog to be available, published, accessible and informed with a series of meta data that allow us to launch rich searches to identify the services that we can reuse.
The price to pay if we do not follow this principle is very high:
- Low rate of service reusability
- Duplication of solutions for similar business needs
- Degradation of capacity and quality of maintenance, monitoring, operation and governance
- Decreased ROI of the strategy
For the implementation of this principle we must focus once again on governance.
Obviously it is necessary to have some technological infrastructure on which to publish and give access to the Services Catalog to all stakeholders. From document repositories, to records of services based on UDDI servers, via sharepoints, more or less elaborate websites, etc.
But the key is governance.
It is useless to have a perfect Services Catalog, well documented in an exceptional, very complete tool, and with intelligent search capabilities, if we do not get the potential users of the catalog (the stakeholders) to assimilate the importance of using this catalog, for each and every one of the ICT projects, in its requirements definition and analysis.
In this constant use of the catalog there are two key success factors of the SOA strategy:
- Optimizing the use of resources, directly impacts on the ROI of the strategy
- Ensuring orderly growth and maintenance of the catalog, as new business needs, not yet covered by existing services, are identified.
Therefore, the question would be: how do we achieve this?
Strong governance requires a strong involvement of the organization’s ICT management bodies. From that point, the commitment of the main actors involved in the strategy can be addressed: functional managers, project managers, change and system managers, and of course those responsible for external ICT solutions providers. They often have their own strategies, and some SME (Subject Matter Experts), generating dangerous “sub-strategies” not always controlled by Governance.
One way to link and control ICT providers with the strategy in general, and with this particular principle, is to transfer it to the service agreement signed with the supplier company: including conditions that oblige the monitoring of the strategy, and in particular, the use of the existing Services Catalog.
Aligning all functional experts and all project managers, to ensure that external vendors follow established procedures and use available tools (in this case, the Service Catalogue), is absolutely key to the success of the whole strategy.
That is the way to guarantee the principle of service discoverability.