SOA Governance has been headlined in the IT news over the last couple of months, and analysts like Gartner’s Paolo Malinverno say things like “Service-oriented architecture governance isn’t an option it’s an imperative.” But just what is SOA Governance?A major goal of SOA is to be able to compose business processes out of interoperating Web Services. But Web Services themselves are basically point solutions. The idea of governance is that there is an overall guiding principle that steers SOA. At a big picture level, a governance policy determines what Web Services need to be built, and at the individual Web Service level, makes sure that the services are designed to be interoperable and comply with standards, like security.Daryl Plummer, group vice president and research general manager at Gartner, said that “SOA Governance must address all domains of SOA – security, management, registry, development, orchestration/composite services and enablement/integration. Companies won’t be able to find a single solution or technology to meet the requirements for SOA Governance, and instead will have to bring together a framework built from multiple vendors, with the registry acting as the foundation that could unify it all.” Plummer’s quote was from April 2005, and it is interesting that a little more than a year later, the SOA market is consolidating with the goal of creating single vendor SOA stacks that can provide one-stop solutions.Two competing initiatives have emerged for how to deal with SOA Governance. The first, originally developed and led by Systinet, is called Governance Interoperability Framework (GIF). GIF was started up in April 2005 and consists of a consortium of companies that include Actional, Reactivity, Amberpoint, and MetaMatrix.A competing initiative called SOA Link was started by Infravio in April 2006 and includes Hewlett Packard, JBoss and Iona. SOA Link has since added additional members, with many overlapping companies in both camps.As noted in the Daryl Plummer quote above, many consider the SOA registry to be key to successful SOA implementation. The idea of the registry was first described within the UDDI specification. The initial concept of the registry was that it allowed services to be looked up in a yellow-page-like directory. But companies like Systinet and Infravio have taken the capabilities of the SOA registry to the next level.The SOA registry is being made to map business taxonomies into the SOA model. The registry is now able to provide information about services, schemas, business processes, workflows and databases.The work that Infravio and Systinet did especially in the area of the registry made them candidates for takeover. webMethods bought Infravio for $38 million on September 11th. In late August BEA purchased SOA registry vendor Flashline. And on July 25th, Hewlett Packard bought Mercury who in turn had earlier purchased Systinet. These are only a few of the many recent acquisitions happening in the SOA space. Logic Library remains as the only independent pure-play company specializing in the SOA registry.It’s important to realize that Web Services are only one piece of the SOA puzzle. Governance provides an important framework for SOA initiatives. Formtek offers ECM Web Services that can work within the SOA structure to provide content library services.