The Role of BPM in SOA Governance

ebizQ analyst Dennis Byron published an article not too long ago asking

What is business process management (BPM) software's role in IT and SOA governance?

In his article, Dennis quotes Forrester's Larry Fulton as stating

IT and SOA design-time governance solutions provide more than just storage and cataloging of service information; they also automate the process of service life-cycle management (SLM). Automating the process of service life-cycle management is the job of technologies like SOA design-time repositories.

Dennis goes on to make the argument that BPM could be used for this kind of automation

because the combination of an explosion in unstructured data and the coming exponential growth in services...means IT could lose control of its mission

The rest of the article goes on to cover various BPM vendor products and how they could be used.  However, Dennis never really fully answers the question he stated up front on what BPM's role in SOA Governance was other than to state it could be important if BPM is important to the overall business strategy.  I don't disagree with Dennis, but I think he's approaching this from a BPM angle, not a SOA governance angle.

Technology offerings aligned with SOA governance, such as those referenced by Larry Fulton, are there for the purpose of automating, and providing visibility into, the governance process.  Governance doesn't happen simply by harvesting assets from the SOA environment and providing visibility.  It's what you do to those assets once you have that visibility that really defines governance.  Effective governance is essentially the application of business and IT policies and procedures to influence behavior and outcome.  It's for this reason that I think BPM can, and does, play an essential role in SOA governance as it provides a means to structure the governance process and automate enforcement of policies and procedures to ensure business/IT alignment and compliance.

What I find surprising in Dennis's article is that Oracle is not mentioned alongside the other BPM vendors.  Why I find this surprising is not because Oracle has a BPM offering but because the Oracle SOA Governance solution has BPM embedded.  Oracle uses a lightweight version of Oracle BPM workflow under the covers for automation of the lifecycle, from planning through retirement.  These workflows can either be configured and used as is, or you are provided with all the tooling necessary to modify those BPM processes to fit your methodology and needs.   

So when it comes to the question of what BPM's role in SOA Governance is, Oracle believes it's so essential that they've embedded it within the governance solution offering itself.  BPM doesn't need to be strategic to the rest of the enterprise to be applied to the automation of your governance processes, but governance is a poster child for how BPM can be properly leveraged for internal processes.

The rest of Dennis's article can be found here.

Comments:

Thanks for the mention. Yes, I was definitely coming at the subject from the BPM angle (that's what I do :) ). I do not what to imply that there are not other perspectives. Also, Oracle was not mentioned because they did not reply to our survey. Thanks again Dennis

Posted by Dennis Byron on October 25, 2008 at 01:05 AM PDT #

Nice blog ! All the steps are clearly mentioned. Thanks

Posted by Process Automation on December 24, 2008 at 02:34 AM PST #

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