The REST Governance Key Signature

 

Much of the hype around service governance is focused on operational governance. Defining, tracking, and managing factors like service-level agreements (e.g., average response time, peak response time, average throughput, peak throughput) and authorization policies (e.g., users from organization A are allowed to invoke this service while users from organization B are not) are very important.  Once service components are up and running within an organization’s IT infrastructure governance is necessary.

Operational governance and management are necessary but insufficient for successful service deployment. To effectively define and implement a REST service, and not simply implement a series of point-to-point REST services masquerading as REST, which create another layer of technology spaghetti, REST services must extend governance back to development and architectural REST perspectives. Find a way to seamlessly bind REST perspectives to enable effective information flow in multiple directions⎯from architecture to development to operations.

Taliferro thoroughly investigated each governance perspective.

Architectural Governance

Architectural governance at the enterprise architecture (EA) level involves three key elements:

  1. core decisions about business or technological functionality within the enterprise
  2. documenting decisions so that downstream consumers (the teams responsible for developing and deploying services and    applications) can quickly understand and make effective use of those decisions
  3. reviewing project-specific application of decisions

In order for an EA team to execute tasks, the team must have an effective way to disseminate produced knowledge assets. In addition, the team must track and understand which knowledge assets are applied to specific projects. Further, an EA Team needs to document the review of project-specific decisions.

Design-Time Governance

In many ways, Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) governance within a REST initiative is a reflection of decisions made at the enterprise architecture (EA) level. Decisions about the scope and granularity of implemented business services and technical approach used in implementing the services must be applied to specific service production or consumption (i.e., application development) projects.

However, SDLC governance extends beyond appropriate application of EA guidance to the analysis, design, implementation, and testing of the resulting services and/or applications required by the IT project. Regarding service production, SDLC governance involves the progressive “hardening” of a service. Services progress through requirements definition, design, implementation/unit test, and integration/system test phases to eventual deployment in the operational environment, oversight is needed.

When applied to service consumption, governance may involve both internal project-specific reviews (e.g., appropriate services selected, requirements for new services identified). External reviews from the perspective of service providers allow for such questions as:

Does the use of this service within this application conform to enterprise-specific or government-mandated privacy rules?

Does the service implementation contain open source components?  If so, do the components compromise enterprise-specific intellectual property?

Operational Governance

Operational governance/management within REST involves applying appropriate business and technical policies (e.g., groups and users allowed to invoke a particular service, minimum throughput and response time expectations required of a service) to deployed services. Business policies are often implemented within REST by a Service Bus or some fabric integrated with the enterprise’s authentication and authorization infrastructure, while technical policies are typically monitored by a services management platform. The cumulative set of governed technical policies is often referred to as a service-level agreement (SLA).

Examples of SLA-level technical governance elements within REST:

  • Average throughput
  • Peak throughput
  • Type and description of committed SLA
  • Availability
  • Consuming service clients
  • Hardware and software configuration
  • Fault history
  • Alert thresholds

Political Aspects of REST Governance

How do we map  governance disciplines into an organization’s structure and roles? The nature of REST governance creates a new discipline with implications for existing corporate and IT institutions. The implications affect new organizational structures and processes and the politics associated with those structures and processes.

To make governance a valuable and necessary function that supports REST migration one needs to understand

  • corporate service policies
  • what governance means
  • how governance helps achieve successful implementation
  • the impact on current IT governance processes.

Some processes include budgeting and project approval, portfolio management activities, and ongoing oversight of projects to assure budgetary compliance. Applying governance to REST activities is critical because changes to normal IT governance processes for budgeting and portfolio management may be necessary.

Think about the budgeting process of an organization. The budgeting process has tremendous impact on organizational behavior in general, and IT departments in particular. Without budgetary project control to influence REST adoption and reusable services as fundamental design concepts, projects are only driven by requirements of a specific business unit, or project. The same logic applies to portfolio management.  Governance, budgeting, and portfolio management are methods used to influence business unit behavior, and IT departments to aggressively support REST and reuse. Enterprise architecture processes undergo changes as a result of an organization’s REST initiative. Often the architecture process and organization have to be restructured to accommodate REST requirements because the skills, roles, and functions of an EA team are not appropriate for a REST initiative.

Examine the process of architecture as tiers of activities: one tier involves architecture strategy and goals, definition of elements, standards, and the other architectural goals. The latter tier involves funded projects either through architecture, acquisition or implementation. Even though management may want both tiers to interdependently function, the two tiers are related, yet distinct processes. For example, at corporate headquarters a chief architect or central architecture group along with solution architects are assigned to projects. They build systems and implement technologies and standards. Usually, the business unit that funds a project has the most influence. The behavior associated with enterprise architecture is similarly related to the organization and processes used to achieve the goals of REST:

  • architecture compliance
  • portfolio management
  • budgetary compliance.

 

Summary

Don’t think managing your REST implementation operationally is enough. Keeping tabs on execution does not ensure the service is really supporting overall business goals. Traceability to business goals/priorities through EA to SDLC to operations make REST implementation successful in the enterprise. Equally important, do not minimize organizational influences that are needed – monolithic, project-centric funding models are not likely to work in the world of REST.

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