Enterprising Developments

Governance Provides the 'Guardrails' that Guide Service Orientation

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 21, 2011

Any insurer seeking to service-orient its technology systems won't get too far if there's little or no value being delivered to the business. The best way to ensure that SOA meets business needs is to have solid governance in place.

Leo Shuster, director, IT architecture at Nationwide Insurance, is well aware of this requirement, as he explained in a recent podcast interview for the upcoming International SOA & Cloud Symposium. “Without SOA governance any SOA program will fail,” he points out.

Why is governance such a hot topic these days? After all, we've had IT systems around for decades now. Shuster says SOA adds a new dimension to IT. “SOA in general a very complex topic,” he explains. “It's focused on creating shared assets. It is essentially creating a multi-dependency between organizations within IT and outside IT.”

SOA governance, which can be part of an oversight committee of executives from across the business, employing automated tools and registries to manage services, helps establish the rules of the road.

“It's especially important to create rules by which dependencies are managed, by which they’re run, by which they’re measured because SOA is so complex,” he says.

Speaking of following the rules of the road, that's the analogy Shuster uses to vividly define governance: “Governance is about the guardrails as your driving down the road,” he explains. “Management is the act of driving down the road. It's execution and delivery, essentially moving the company forward.”

Shuster also advocates that “everyone should care about SOA governance. SOA is so pervasive, it really impacts everybody, from top to bottom.”

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