Oracle Registry Brings Order to SOA Services

Oracle's just-released OracleAS Service Registry provides IT (and even business and polcy analysts) a better way to search, publish, categorize and discover their firm's growing inventory of SOA services. IDN speaks with an OracleAS Service Registry technical exec to examine how a Service Registry can put cross-team SOA projects on the same page.

Tags: Service Registry, Business, SOA, Lehmann, Management, OracleAS Service, Reuse,

Oracle is bundling a centralized Services Registry technology with the Oracle SOA Suite. Oracle's Application Server Service Registry leverages UDDIv3 to give devs a centralized store for their services, and a better way to search, publish, categorize and discover them. IDN looks at the OracleAS Service Registry with an Oracle technical exec.

"As you start building out your services infrastructure, you are generating and building a large number of web services you would like to reuse across your organization, So the crux of our Service Registry is around publishing, cataloguing and categorizing services to enable that management and reuse," Mike Lehmann, director of product management for Oracle's SOA Suite, told IDN.

We asked whether Enterprise Service Bus or other SOA components provide a lot of this publish and reuse capability. Perhaps, but Lehmann told IDN that the enterprise need to "templatize" their services procedures - especially to better align IT and business analysts. And, to date, that is something that ESBs just don't do well, and where UDDIv3 will prove valuable.

"Beyond what an ESB or process management tool provides, the idea around automated workflow for services is to have an administrative process that is manageable, scalable and works from a business perspective with all parts of the technical IT organization." Lehmann said.

To deliver on this vision, Lehmann said the OracleAS Service Registry focused on 3 main areas:

  • Internal "approvals workflow" feature for QoS - This "approvals workflow" feature, enabled by APIs, allow admins and devs to ensure that new submissions or changes to registry services meet approvals. The "approvals workflow" also offers notification and subscription capabilities that can inform registry users about SOA elements changes.

  • "We include in the Service Registry automated workflows that support the publish and reuse process, and will make it easier for developers to do an initial registration of their service. And, once the service is registered, that triggers a mechanism to tell the business analyst that [a developer] has build a new service that might need some business context from that analyst, or even some policy information from the security admin," Lehmann said.
  • Data validation - Features for SOA mappings, advanced classifications, and business data access service supports more configurable classifications for both business and technical users. Data management includes pre-built, UDDI-compliant taxonomy validation services. This lets businesses more easily define their own classifications to map to their existing data and services assets. Devs can also use existing vertical taxonomies from their current ERP or database applications.
  • "Our web based interface will drill into the gory details of the UDDI taxonomies, and we also have a business service console geared to a business analyst who wants to understand more about the services in the registry and their availability."
  • Data replication, UDDI data store and security - These features combine to offer controlled access to registry assets, allowing admins to limit the visibility of sensitive services (such as Finance or HR). The approach also leverages metadata, as well as a robust model of corporate SOA via standard and interoperable publishing and discovery protocols.

  • Inside the Architecture of OracleAS Service Registry
    The OracleAS Service Registry is designed as a complement to Oracle's SOA suite, which includes BPEL Process Manager for (orchestration), an Enterprise Service Bus for (on-ramping services), a Web Services Manager (for securing web services) and Oracle's Business Rules Manager for (managing business policy).

    Oracle's backend repository is coupled with a client side, which includes front end tooling to allow users to find and contribute services. The Service Registry's also enables better cooperation between IT, business analysts and security/policy staff, he said.

    "For example, if I am building a business process and I need to find the service for adding a customer or deleting a customer, I would go through the UDDI browser or service browser and look up in the Registry what services I have around that fits the bill. That administrative part of publishing services is also coupled with workflow by telling users about governance issues, such as its availability for reuse," Lehmann said.

    "Central management and governance [of services] is often the missing part that frequently happens as a company rolls out more SOA projects. As IT departments go out and build more and more services in a point-to-point way, they at some point realize they have no central place for control. And, what was working surprising well enough when they had 50 services, doesn't quite work so well when they have 500 [services]."

    The difficulty with having hundreds of services, Lehman said, is that it becomes more difficult to safely and effectively reuse those services. "You want to answer some key questions about your services before you look to reuse them,"

    Among these top-of-mind SOA questions, Lehmann lists:
  • Is the service really production ready?
  • What are the policies attached to these services?
  • Have the creators of the service been notified they are in use by others?
  • Are the parties that might be interested in these new services been alerted that there are new services available?

  • A bottom line take away from the OracleAS Service Registry work, Lehmann told IDN, is that scaling services requires control and better communications between IT and business.

    "Once you get past 10 services and have 500 services or so, then you face a whole new set of SOA governance issues," Lehmann said. In our view, a Service Registry provides a way to be able to locate, identify, publish and certify all your services are OK for change or reuse."