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SOA Maturity Models

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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