Effective SOA Management

Your management system must ensure that the business processes running and exposed as services in the SOA live up to expectations. Paul Lipton shows you the way to effective SOA management.

An interesting portion of my session at Java Pro Live! is when I drill down into the nature of SOA management itself. In an SOA, the management system must ensure that the business processes running and exposed as services in the SOA remain reliable and live up to the expectations of the business's partners, customers, suppliers, internal users, and regulators. To do this, management systems must maintain visibility and control at a conceptual and architectural level higher than any individual services platform.

The reason is simple. Every entity that exposes services tends to operate as if it were the center of the universe. For example, every enterprise service bus (ESB) vendor naturally positions its solution as the only platform needed to develop and deploy services, and yet the very nature of the SOA means that underlying service functionality is hidden from service consumers. All that matters is the behavior of the service, not how that behavior is implemented underneath the service interfaces.

In the real world, an SOA is likely to contain many service platforms all chosen for their unique abilities and characteristics. Each platform might provide some rudimentary management capability for its own environment, but it is still necessary to provide a higher level and more business-centric viewpoint across all the supporting service platforms. That is an important requirement for effective SOA management.

What's more, SOA management systems must coordinate and work synergistically with existing enterprise management systems. When these systems are appropriately integrated, it is often more feasible for business and IT to understand why the services being monitored and controlled are behaving the way they do. This is because the enterprise management system provides visibility and control of the underlying IT infrastructure such as application servers, ERP systems, database systems, networks, operating systems, and so on that support the application functionality services typically encapsulate.

In short, effective SOA management is heterogeneous across multiple Web services platforms and integrated across the entire IT technology stack. Anything less might, in the long run, contribute more to the problem than the solution.