Integration – Centralized or Distributed?

Let us imagine a big greenfield IT program that implements multiple packaged products, custom developed applications for an enterprise business.

There are multiple software vendors, package implementation partners and custom development teams, that are involved in the complete life cycle consisting of requirements analysis, architecture/design, code & test, integrate and deploy to production.

In such a scenario, how to deal with the interface development and integration?

Option 1: Centralized Integration Development
1. Agree the interfaces as step 1 of the program.
2. Let an independent group of people (let us call center of excellence) do the integration/interface work.
3. As the different products, applications are deployed the integration team will integrate them.

Option 2: Distributed Integration Development
1. Only have a integration back end (say ESB) be controlled by central team.
2. Each team working on different projects of the program will have their own interface development team.
3. As the different products, application are deployed the respective team will integrate them with the central ESB.

Which of the above options is better?

In my personal opinion, all the integration related activities are better done from a central COE.

Central COE can share the best practices, identify core patterns and leverage the skills.

Challenges in the COE model are acquiring and building the right skills and right sizing the COE for the program.

Any thoughts or ideas?

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