Master Metadata/Policy Management

Courtesy of Dana Gardner’s blog, I found out that IONA has announced a registry/repository product, Artix Registry/Repository.

I’m curious if this is indicative of a broader trend. First, you had acquisitions of the two most prominent players in the registry/repository space: Systinet by Mercury who was then acquired by HP, and Infravio by webMethods. For the record, Flashline was also acquired by BEA. You’ve had announcements of registry/repository solutions as part of a broader suite by IBM (WebSphere Registry/Repository), SOA Software (Registry), and now IONA. There’s also Fujitsu’s/Software AG CentraSite and LogicLibrary Logidex that are still primarily independent players. What I’m wondering is whether or not the registry/repository marketplace simply can’t make it as an independent purchase, but will always be a mandatory add-on to any SOA infrastructure stack.

All SOA infrastructure products have some form of internal repository. Whether we’re talking about a WSM system, an XML/Web Services gateway, or an ESB, they all maintain some internal configuration that governs what they do. You could even lump application servers and BPM engines into that mix if you so desire. Given the absence of domain specific policy languages for service metadata, this isn’t surprising. So, given that every piece of infrastructure has its own internal store, how do you pick one to be the “metadata master” of your policy information? Would someone buy a standalone product solely for that purpose? Or are they going to pick a product that works with the majority of their infrastructure, and then focus on integration with the rest. For the smaller vendors, it will mean that they have to add interoperability/federation capabilities with the platform players, because that’s what customers will demand. The risk for the consumer, however, is that this won’t happen. This means that the consumer will be the one to bear the brunt of the integration costs.

I worry that the SOA policy/metadata management space will become no better than the Identity Management space. How many vendor products still maintain proprietary identity stores rather than allowing identity to be managed externally through the use of ActiveDirectory/LDAP and some Identity Management and Provisioning solution? This results in expensive synchronization and replication problems that keep the IT staff from being focused on things that make a difference to the business. Federation and interoperability across these registry/repository platforms must be more than a checkbox on someone’s marketing sheet, it must be demonstrable, supported, and demanded by customers as part of their product selection process. The last thing we need is a scenario where Master Data Management technologies are required to manage the policies and metadata of services. Let’s get it right from the beginning.

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