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January 23, 2006

IBM plans SOA Maturity Model standard push

IBM Corp is planning to create an industry standard around its model for service oriented architecture maturity amid contrasting views as to whether the market is ready for a standards-based approach.

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM’s VP of SOA and web services, Michael Liebow, said the company sees the need for a SOA maturity standard and is planning to work together with other industry vendor and groups this year in order to create one.

There are various process standards in the industry today, what the industry lacks is around this notion of service integration maturity, he said. IBM published its Service Integration Maturity Model (SIMM) in October 2005, detailing seven stages of SOA maturity.

We’ve mapped this to CMMI [the Capability Maturity Model Integration] but we’ve thought about it from a services perspective, he added. We have this seven-level model and we’re working with various industry groups to create an industry standard model.

Liebow would not discuss IBM standardization plans further, but according to recent discussions between Computerwire and other vendors it seems there are doubts as to whether the SOA market is ready for such a thing.

We have customers today that use every single standard under the sun because none of us know any better, said Matt Quinn, Tibco Software Inc VP of technology on the prospect of an SOA maturity standard.

What we really need is two to three years of incubation and innovation time. In that time best practices will develop, and then is the time for formal methodologies, he added.

That is a view that is shared by Lance Hill, webMethods Inc VP of solutions and product marketing. I think the opportunity is certainly there but in the short-term it will not happen because right now there’s not enough agreed experience and understanding, he said.

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Pulling success stories together is how we’ll move forward towards a standard. Unless you have a platform to push a best practice forward it’s very difficult to push a process standard forward, he added.

David Clarke, Cape Clear Software Inc EVP products, is also in some doubt. The problem is that the discipline of approaching a problem like this is not a finalized process at this point, so it’s maybe a bit early to map it to a methodology like CMM at the moment, he said.

Sonic Software Corp, Amberpoint Inc, Systinet Corp and BearingPoint Inc announced their own Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Maturity Model in October 2005 that is also said to complement the CMMI and details five levels of SOA maturity.

Sonic’s VP and chief technology evangelist, Dave Chappell, indicated that the company is more inclined towards standardization that some of its competitors. There’s a number of SOA reference architectures out there and the industry can always benefit from standardization, he said.

Whether that will mean Sonic et al teaming up with IBM remains to be seen however, although Sonic would welcome collaboration around the SOA Maturity Model We welcome as many companies who are involved in SOA to come forward and collaborate further, said Chappell.

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