Top 5 Reasons for Building Governance Into the Cloud

Our topic this week centers on governance as a requirement and an enabler for cloud computing. We’re going to talk not just about IT governance, or service-oriented architecture (SOA) governance. It’s really more about extended enterprise processes, resource consumption, and resource-allocation governance.

It amounts to “total services governance,” and it seems to me that any meaningful move to cloud-computing adoption, certainly that which aligns and coexists with existing enterprise IT, will need to have such total governance in place.

So, today we’ll go round robin with our IT analyst panelists on their top five reasons why service governance is critical and mandatory for enterprises to properly and safely modernize and prosper vis–vis cloud computing.

We see a lot of evidence that the IT vendor community and the cloud providers themselves recognize the need for this pending market need and requirement for additional governance.

For example, IBM recently announced a virtualization configuration management appliance called “CloudBurst.” It not only helps companies set up and manage virtualized infrastructure, but it can just as well provision and manage instances of stacks of applications, as well as data services support across any number of cloud scenarios.

We also recently saw Amazon Web Services move with a burgeoning offering to ease provisioning, a reliability control, via automated load balancing and scaling features and services.

Listen to the podcast (44:34 minutes).

Akamai Technologies this spring announced advanced network-based cloud performance support, in addition to content and application’s optimization services.

HP, also this spring, released Cloud Assure to help drive security, performance, and availability services for Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, as well as cloud-based services. So, the road to cloud computing is increasingly paved with, or perhaps is going to be held up by, a lack of governance.

Here to help us understand the need for governance as an enabler or a roadblock to wider cloud adoption are our analyst guests this week. We’re here with David A. Kelly, president of Upside Research; Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst from ZapThink; and, Joe McKendrick, independent analyst and ZDNet blogger.

Let’s start with you Ron. You’ve been involved with SOA best practices and methodologies for several years. Before that, you were a thought leader in the Web services space, and governance has been part and parcel of these advances. Now, we’re taking it to an extended environment, a larger, more complex environment. Tell me, if you would, your top five reasons why you think services governance is critical or not for this move to a larger services environment.

Ron Schmelzer: You’re making me count on a Friday before a long weekend. Let me see if I can do that. I’m glad you brought up this topic. It’s really interesting. We just did a survey of the various topics that people are interested in for education, training, and stuff like that. The No. 1 thing that people came back with was governance. That’s indicative and telling at a few levels.

The first thing people realize is that simply building and putting out services — whether they’re on the local network or in the cloud or consuming services from the cloud — don’t provide the benefit, unless there’s some control. As people always say, nobody really wants to be ungoverned, but nobody wants to have a government. The thing that prevents freedom from going into chaos is governance.

I can list the top five reasons why that is. You want the benefit of loose coupling. That is, you want the benefit of being able to take any service and compose it with any other service without necessarily having to get the service provider involved. That’s the whole theory of loose coupling. The consumer and the provider don’t have to directly communicate.

But the problem is how to prevent people from combining these services in ways that provide unpredictable or undesirable results. A lot of the efforts in governance from the runtime prevents that unpredictability. So one, preventing chaos. …

Dana Gardner: Now we go to David Kelly next. David, you’ve been following the cloud evolution through the lens of business process management (BPM) and business process modeling. I’m interested in your thoughts as to how governance can assist in how organizations can provide a better management and better modeling around processes.

David Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. At one level, what we’re going to see in cloud computing and governance is a pretty straightforward extension of what you’ve seen in terms of SOA governance and the bottom-up from the services governance area. As you said, it gets interesting when you start to up-level it from individual services into the business processes and start talking about how those are going to be deployed in the cloud. That brings me to my first point. One of the key areas where governance is critical for the cloud is ensuring that you’re connecting the business goals with those cloud services.

It’s like the connection between IT and business in conventional organizations. Now, as those services move out to the cloud, it’s the same problem but in a larger perspective, and with the potential for greater disruption. …

Dana, when you mentioned some of your examples, most of those are about the performance and availability of these services. So, they’re very limited. What we’ve seen so far is a very limited approach to governance. It’s like saying we have Web server governance. You need it. It’s there and its important, but its such a small slice of the overall solution that we’re going to have to see a much broader expansion over the next four or five years. …

Gardner: Joe McKendrick, we’ve heard from David and Ron. David made an interesting point that we’re probably scratching the surface of what’s going to be required for a full-blown cloud model to prosper and thrive. We’re still looking at this as basically red light/green light, keeping it working, keeping the trains running. We don’t necessarily have them on time, on schedule, or carrying a business payload or profit model. So, Joe, I’m interested in your position — five reasons why governance is important, or what, perhaps, needs to come.

Joe McKendrick: Thanks, Dana. Actually, Ron and David really covered a lot of the ground I was going to cover, and they said it probably a lot better than I would say.

There is an issue that’s looming that hasn’t really been discussed or addressed yet. That is the role of governance for companies that are consuming the services versus the role of governance for companies that are providing the services.

On some level, companies are going to be both consumers and providers of cloud services. There is the private cloud concept, and we’ve talked about that quite a bit in these podcasts. SOA is playing a key role here of course.

Companies, IT departments will be the cloud providers internally, and there is a level of governance, the design time governance issues that we’ve been wrestling with SOA all these years, that come into play as providers.

There are going to be some other companies that may be more in a consume mode. There are other governance issues, another side of governance, that they have to tackle, such as service-level agreements (SLAs), which is assuring the availability of the applications they’re receiving from some outside third party. So, the whole topic of governance splits in two here, because there is going to be all this activity going on outside the firewall that needs to be discussed.

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: Active Endpoints and Tibco sponsored this podcast.

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