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It's pretty well accepted that business agility is the holy grail of SOA. And most people agree that strong (SOA) governance is a key requirement for an effective SOA infrastructure. So, why am I here telling you that governance is a barrier to business agility?
Historically, strong controls have always been a barrier to agility... and the business finds ways around those barriers. Is the mainframe too tightly controlled by IT to get your job done? Why not move to client/server. Are the client/server deployments are too tightly controlled by IT? Why not move to building situational business apps in Excel. You can, of course, see the exact same pattern emerging between SOA and the move to Web 2.0.
Governance and other forms of IT control almost, by definition, stifle innovation. Why? Because innovation is about thinking outside the box, whereas governance is about defining the box that you're not allowed to think outside. Since innovation goes hand-in-hand with agility, if you stifle innovation, you limit agility.
Of course, I'm definitely not arguing that you follow the "wild wild west" deployment model in your IT organization. What I am advocating is that you carefully think about how and where you want to allow innovation (and thus optimize agility) and ensure that your governance is extremely flexible in these areas. Where you don't need innovation, you can put stricter SOA governance controls in-place.
Let's try and put this into practice. In many cases, it's safe to assume that innovations will come via the creative use of exiting services, not from creating services themselves. If you believe this is true for your organization, you should put more governance controls around service creation, but severely limit the controls that are put around service use. How you do this, without losing control altogether, I'll leave to a follow-up post.
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