Multiple personas: Knowing what each user needs from a service is critical to SOA governance

Multiple personalities can be a good thing—at least when it comes to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) governance strategy. That’s the conclusion offered by analysts at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, who argue that the best solutions for managing an SOA are offered by vendors that realize that people with a variety of roles—or personas—must be part of the SOA governance process.


Multiple personalities can be a good thing—at least when it comes to Gartner , who argue that the best solutions for managing an SOA are offered by vendors that realize that people with a variety of roles—or personas—must be part of the SOA governance process.
As the term implies, SOA governance involves establishing rules for how the various elements of an SOA will be built and managed throughout their life cycles. This can be a complex undertaking, especially considering that the services that comprise an SOA will be used for multiple purposes and by multiple people.
That’s why support of personas is critical, says Frank Kenney, a research director at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner.
While SOA governance tools provide a central point for managing service, Kenney says, “Multiple roles in the organization are going to go to that same place to get different aspects or different cuts of information on things that are relevant to them.”
So while someone with a developer persona may be looking into version control for a service, someone with a security persona may only want to determine whether security policies for that particular service are being enforced. According to Kenney, both objectives can be fulfilled more easily with the right governance solution.
“The best SOA governance technologies,” he says, “will let you flip between personas, create new personas based on your business, and let you manage the personas.”
Kenney says more SOA governance solution vendors are now supporting the personas concept. One such company is business infrastructure software provider Software AG , which was placed in the leader’s quadrant in a recent Gartner report titled Magic Quadrant for Integrated SOA Governance Technology Sets .
“The CentraSite product from Software AG is one of the better products for [managing SOA] registry-repositories that I’ve seen,” says Kenney. “It offers a plethora of configuration options so that you can define personas however you want to define them. You can also define policies and stages of life cycles however you want to define them.”
Enabling the management of personas throughout a service’s life cycle is part of what differentiates CentraSite, says Miko Matsumura, deputy CTO of Software AG. “We have a very strong appreciation of life cycle and cross-life-cycle personas. So we have a lot of respect for different role functions in service deployment, and part of that is through the really sophisticated management of really simple things like access control.”
Access control, he says, may sound simple, but it can be difficult to manage as a service moves through its life cycle from architecture and design to development, testing and staging, and then versioning once it’s released. People with different personas may need to access a service at different points in its life cycle, and may need different information depending on the life cycle stage and the persona profile.
“As something moves through the life cycle, all those different visibility bits have to be changed and flipped. It turns out that managing perspective as something is changing is actually kind of complicated,” Matsumura points out.
In the end, Matsumura says that the key to enabling SOA governance is providing people with only the information they need to perform their jobs. And this depends on knowing what information each persona needs to see. Software AG has been placed in the leader quadrant, says Matsumura, “because we’ve had the time to learn what each persona wants to see and we’ve devised our interfaces in such a way that it sort of optimizes those types of screens and visuals.”
Kenney agrees that the use of personas can make a difference when it comes to governing an organization’s SOA.
“It doesn’t make SOA governance easier, but it gives people responsible for SOA governance the information that they need to get feedback on how policies are being enforced and feedback on how artifacts and resources are actually being used,” Kenney says. “That’s what governance is all about.”

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