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SPECIAL REPORT: Service Oriented Architecture

Governing Principles
Governance is the key ingredient of the Practical Guide to Federal Service Oriented Architecture.
*Architecture: A 12 Letter Word For Having A Plan
*Establishing Common Ground
*SOA: Health Care Enabler
*SOA: Evolving Challenges
*Governing Principles
*SOA Improves Services [Online bonus material]
*SOA: Service-Oriented Architecture [PDF]
As with any horizontal movement, getting consensus from the many stakeholders is never easy.

 

“We work very strongly with the CIO Council and we look to them to help us with governance related issues, particularly the Architecture & Infrastructure Committee,” said Kshemendra Paul, Chief Architect at OMB during the recent Federal Executive Forum on SOA.  

 

The committee just published in The Practical Guide to Federal Service Oriented Architecture (PGFSOA) in partnership with the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council. You can find it on the E-Gov web site said Paul. “We tried to identify what was unique about employing SOA in the federal space along with the governance issues and things like that.”

 

Feds Are Unique

According to Craig Muzilla, VP Middleware Business Unit at Red Hat, part of what is unique about the Federal space are the up-front time in planning and setting an administrative and planning process where new services can be introduced.  “I think there’s also some technology that can play a large role here,” said Muzilla. “When you look at governance in SOA, you can look at it in two ways --design & build time and run time. And when you are looking at design and build time, I think you need to have technology and processes that address things like change management.”

 

A service is defined, but now there are always going to be changes said Muzilla. “So how do you implement those changes? How do you map those dependencies? Do you know all the things that it ties to?” “Some technology can help in that area,” explained Muzilla. “On the run time side, you look at things like service levels. So there’s a service level agreement, but maybe one set of users has certain level of service that’s provided, and another set of users has another service level. So technology can play a role in the governance of the architecture."  Paul added there is one other factor to be considered in the federal space. “We also have to be concerned with plan time. We have long planning cycles and budgeting cycles. Paul highlighted the role of the Federal Transition Framework especially around looking at opportunities for collaboration.

 

“Not to reinvent but to look at the Federal Transition Framework and be able to pull down shared architectures, solutions, services, information. And the vision we have for the FTF is really to become a market place for – at planning time – matching demand and supply for IT services and solutions. So it’s an important idea.”

 

Reviewing The Portfolio

At the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), they are in their 6th year of a capital planning process that includes EA, program management, work force management and cyber security according to Scott Bernard, Deputy CIO.

 

The vision we have for the Federal Transition Framework
is really to become a market place for matching demand
and supply for IT services and solutions

 

“The most important annual activities in agencies are the budget process and the capital planning process; and then reviewing our portfolio of investments in IT,” said Bernard.  Bernard said the FRA has quarterly planning meetings in which executive leadership takes part. “We use them as an opportunity to ask the essential questions on the business and the technology side related to enterprise architecture.”  “We start with the requirement solution fit, and then we talk about standards, and then we talk about earned value management, cost and schedule, performance control and then we finish with risk management and security
solutions,” Bernard explained.

 

“I think that leadership and program managers really appreciate that it’s a mature process, that they know when things are going to happen, and they know that the oversight is really multifaceted and they are prepared for that and it’s really helped us to manage our investments and leverage our resources to the maximum level possible.”