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Open Architecture for the Public Sector

In his blog Richard Veryard relates how the public sector, in the UK at least, is moving slowly towards understanding the impact of Digital Government. He reports on a workshop he attended recently to discuss some of the architectural aspects of Digital Government, hosted by Skyscape. One purpose of this discussion was to feed into the Labour Party Digital Government Review, and possibly into the Labour manifesto for the next election.

I very much agree with Richard that the key to success in this area is multi-agency collaboration that delivers joined up government. Sadly the rate of progress is evidently very slow. Richard and I responded to a UK Government call for information on Shared Services way back in 2005. See below for link. Much of what we said at that time, based on work for the Danish Government, is still highly relevant - the need to develop joined up government architecture based on business driven SOA.

Today we might add:
1. While information sharing is clearly needed between silos, an (implemented) business capability architecture would be a better way to rationalize inter-government complexities, and lay a componentized, federated foundation for collaborations. The business capability based architecture also defines units of integrity that are ideal units of provisioning or acquisition which is essential in today's Cloud based, multi-source environment.

2. In his post Richard mentioned that at the workshop there was "considerable discussion about the role of Government in providing a platform, and whether the platform should be a Minimum Viable Platform (similar to the Internet) or provide added value." The idea of an MVP is very interesting as it parallels work that we (Everware-CBDI) are doing. In our Agile Service Factory we guide organizations to develop what we now call a Common Core, which handles all the standardized services and all non-functional behaviors. We are finding this is 80 - 95% of the code/effort/cost. This Common Core becomes the enterprise (or domain or capability) platform, which is managed as one or more product lines concurrently evolving with solutions, and providing continuous change with massive reduction in cost. But the primary value is the ability to exert standardization and governance over parts of federated solutions while actively facilitating localization that does not compromise the standardized components.

3. By focusing multi-agency inter-working on capability, we have a business driven approach that is inherently service oriented, and clarity of understanding around what aspects of the common platform should be shared both within and across agency.

Richard Veryard: Towards Open Architecture for the Public Sector
2005 CBDI Report Shared Services for the UK Public Sector

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More Stories By David Sprott

David Sprott is a consultant, researcher and educator specializing in service oriented architecture, application modernization and cloud computing. Since 1997 David founded and led the well known think tank CBDI Forum providing unique research and guidance around loose coupled architecture, technologies and practices to F5000 companies and governments worldwide. As CEO of Everware-CBDI International a UK based corporation, he directs the global research and international consulting operations of the leading independent advisors on Service Oriented Application Modernization.