A new edition of SOA Software’s Portfolio Manager planning governance solution, released yesterday, is designed to give developers more insight into whether a candidate service meets business objectives, and to help end users locate services that are most relevant to them.

Portfolio Manager helps organizations plan and prioritize services as they are brought under consideration for development. Version 6.2 visualizes the interrelationships between business imperatives and the associated candidate services, showing gaps in any service portfolios to help evaluate the usefulness of those services.

Understanding those relationships and identifying gaps early in the planning process can result in better utilization of resources internally or to outsourced developers, the company said.

Developers can populate Portfolio Manager with the application inventory that they took as a precursor to their SOA initiatives, said Brent Carlson, senior vice president of technology at SOA Software.

Portfolio Manager provides two modes for identifying and visualizing holes in service portfolio: one that is taxonomy based and one based on business process modeling, Carlson explained.

“There is not a lot of technology to help with service portfolio management. I’d say they are entering new ground here,” said Anne Thomas Manes, research director at Burton Group, a subsidiary of Gartner Research.

Portfolio Manager provides a pre-build process flow to follow as services are planned, but it is customizable. “Most customers follow an 80/20 rule: 80% ours, and 20% customized,” Carlson said. Associations between services and business initiatives are maintained throughout the service life cycle via integration with SOA software’s development and operational governance solutions.

“Life cycle begins at the planning stage,” Manes said. “The vast majority of SOA governance products focus on development and runtime, not planning. At this point, the only technologies that do that are application life-cycle management and portfolio management solutions that are not specifically focused on the service side.”

However, Manes questioned the utility of having a separate system for service planning governance. “My preference is to extend the portfolio management, but I’m not fond of the big, heavy ALM players,” she said.

Portfolio Manager is due out this quarter. Pricing starts at US$25,000 for named user licenses, which include thick- and thin-client users.

This release of Portfolio Manager also adds cross-organization content validation rules. A line of business might have special auditing rules, Carlson explained. The rules are enforced at the time when planning information is edited.

Organizations may also follow standard enterprise architecture planning methodologies and reference models that now ship with Portfolio Manager, including APQC PCF, Federal Enterprise Architecture, ITL, and the Zachman Framework.

Once services are deployed, developers can help manage which capabilities business users can discover with a new XML-based search capability. Developers do this by writing XML Path Language queries that narrow down services to specific business criteria, Carlson said.