SOA Maturity Models

| by Stefan Tilkov Follow 5 Followers on Feb 22, 2007. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Many large organizations consider adopting SOA, and many of them decide to actually do so. But once that decision is made, how do you proceed? A reasonable strategy is to assess your current status, decide on where you want to go, and build a road map from there. To do so, many are looking for help in the form of maturity models. A maturity model defines a number of levels an organization can be one with regards to … and here the debate starts.

An interesting discussion has recently taken place between Dave Linthicum and Todd Biske. In a blog entry, Linthicum described his maturity model, which contains the following “levels” (in brief):

  • Level 0 SOAs are SOAs that simply send SOAP messages from system to system.
  • Level 1 SOAs are SOAs that also leverage everything in Level 0 but add the notion of a messaging/queuing system.
  • Level 2 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 1, and add the element of transformation and routing.
  • Level 3 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 2, adding a common directory service.
  • Level 4 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 3, adding the notion of brokering and managing true services.
  • Finally, Level 5 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 4, adding the notion of orchestration.

Biske does not agree that this approach is the right one for assessing maturity:

The first difference between my efforts […] and Dave’s levels is that my view is targeted around SOA adoption. Dave’s model is a SOA Maturity Model, and there is a difference between that and a SOA Adoption Maturity Model. That being said, I think SOA adoption is the right area to be assessing maturity.

In a posting to the Yahoo! SOA discussion group, Dennis Djenfer provided a useful list of (more or less publicly available) maturity models:

As enterprise-scale SOA adoption is still not very frequent, it’s hard to assess the value of any particular model, since they’re neither proven in practice, nor (in general) derived from significant number of particularly successful SOA efforts.

What are you’re experiences using SOA maturity models? Did you use any of these, did you define your own or do you consider them a waste of time?

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If you use TIBCO you are automatically at Level 5 by Prashant Rane

You can go from Level 1 to 5 or just use a product that let's you have all 5 levels to start with.

Re: If you use TIBCO you are automatically at Level 5 by Stefan Tilkov

But having a capability is different from actually using it ... just because a buy a middleware product doesn't mean I have transitioned all my applications to it.

Real case by Carlos Rodriguez

Well, we first are in level 0, then we go to level 3 because we added UDDI to the architecture. Then, we go to level 4 and 5 because we use bpel and we manage our services with X applications. After that, we go to level 2 (because use transform with xslt for integracion with other systems.). We dont use queueing and dont use routing. Are we on level 5 or are not. I think that it is levels of Adoption or recommendations of adoption or ...

But it is a good idea for thinking about Level of Madurity and recommendations of Adoptions.
It could be firsts steps. (discutions is good practice to make good knowlegde)

Maturity Models concepts by Kunal Mittal

I don't believe Maturity models should be based on technologies. Let us not forget the CMM. It is about process. In SOA, I would apply the concept of a maturity model to process, architecture, governance and policies.

BTW - the link to my maturity model listed above it incorrect. Please read my maturity model at

Re: Maturity Models concepts by Stefan Tilkov

Thanks Kunal, I've fixed the link.

Re: Non-technical aspects by Todd Biske

John, have a look at these entries on my blog that discuss my work. You'll find that technology is only one dimension of the maturity model (and even within that dimension, it's more focused on appropriate use, rather than what you have). Other dimensions include approach & governance, organization, operational management, architecture, and communications & training.


Another one to add to the list by Todd Biske

I just came across this work from Microsoft on Enabling the Service-Oriented Enterprise. It has another maturity model to add to the discussion.


Capability based maturity model by jun yang

I like the model from Microsoft better because it addresses the key challenges of adopting SOA in large enterprises -- capability. Just like any other popular technologies before SOA, once it becomes popular, everybody wants to jump to the bandwagan without even understanding what a service is and forgive my rudeness, most of them don't even have background on computer science.

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