Thursday, February 14, 2008

SOA Centre of Excellence

When I was researching my article on Organization Models for SOA Adoption (CBDI Journal, June 2007), I found lots of people talking about "Centres of Excellence" (CoE). But they all meant different things by that. Consultancies often use the term to refer to their own SOA practices, rather than something that explicitly supports the organizational change required for SOA adoption across a large enterprise.

Apart from that, I found three alternative models of CoE.

  • Body of Expertise
  • Vehicle for Change
  • Champion of Excellence
Obviously if you define the CoE solely as a vehicle for change, then it has no further purpose once the change is complete. But in many cases, we would recommend a composite model of CoE, in which the CoE may have an ongoing role in terms of expertise and excellence.

Some of the functions of the CoE in the early stages will be spun off into other organization structures, or merged into mainstream IT management, as SOA spreads through the organization. For example, at some (indeterminate) point the SOA Programme Office simply turns into the Programme Office for the whole of IT.

There are questions of scalability here. If you have an IT organization over 5000 people, you might start with a small CoE team, running pilot projects and then controlling perhaps as many as a few dozen projects, perhaps 200+ developers, perhaps even growing to 5% - 10% of the whole of IT.

But when SOA coverage gets above 25%, you're talking about supporting (probably not controlling) thousands of developers, you're talking about a significant chunk of the entire IT budget. Although there may still be a role for a CoE as a facilitator, the main IT functions (including planning, programme management, coordination/integration and infrastructure) are almost certainly going to be run by experienced IT managers rather than SOA experts.

The CoE therefore needs to establish good SOA-friendly processes for all aspects of IT management, and then transfer these processes over to mainstream IT management. The CoE may still exist, but remains relatively small and certainly shouldn't grow in proportion to the growth of SOA across the organization.

Original Article: SOA Center of Excellence and other Organizational Support Models - Organizational infrastructure for SOA Adoption and Excellence (CBDI Journal, June 2007). Full article available to Gold and Platinum members only, I'm afraid.

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