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Self service development teams as cells?


At this years WSO2 EU Con there were a lot of talks on how organic cells are similar to self servicing development teams. An interesting analogy that I thought worth elaborating on. Maybe this is the way forward to further increase development speed and agility, for sure the tools are already there...

First of all, let us conclude on the obvious. To be successful in the digital transformation era, you will need to unlock data and enable fast innovation, both inside and outside of traditional organisational borders. 

The way to do this is through APIs, so if you are not working on your API initiative already then you are in an urgency. The second thing that is striking is how fast this transformation is moving. It is not long since we realized that SOA and ICCs will not be able to deliver fast enough and succeed in the API economy/architecture.

So, we started to invent smaller organisational units in ”enablement teams” or ”centers of excellence” to assist system owner/developers to develop APIs to unlock their data. When speaking to organisations that has already been working for a while on their API initiatives, it is striking that the new bottleneck for digital innovation are the enablement teams.

And that is how fast this is moving. 

Self servicing teams

To keep up with the requirements of digitally transforming organisations in the ongoing digital revolution, we have to make it possible for teams to operate completely independent of each other.

The tools and methodologies to do this are already there and have been developed in parallel with the API initiatives. Through container technology, microservices thinking and truly agile methodologies (used the right way), small teams are able to operate independently of each other to develop capabilities that the business require to thrive in a digital reality.

However, to achieve the overarching objectives of the business, the developed capabilities also have to be made available for other parts of the organisation. The natural way to do this is through APIs. This is why these self servicing teams will need access to the capabilities of an API/Integration platform. 


WSO2 has chosen to turn to nature to try and find the best description on how these self servicing teams can operate in the most efficient way. In their mind an organic cell is best suited to describe the nature and specifics of these self service teams.

A cell is self existing, but with clear boundaries. It needs to cooperate with others to survive and prosper. The cooperation is done through well defined ”protocols” and in a well functioning organism, cells grow and eventually splits in two with the same set of capabilities. Looking at self servicing development teams like cells is an interesting analogy.

To be able to be self servicing, the team will require a full set of capabilities to achieve their objectives. With todays microservices architectures, supported by container technology and small foot print platforms with a lot of functionality, suddenly makes this possible.

To not interfere with each other and make efficient collaboration with other cells and even duplication possible, development teams/applications will require boundaries and ways to communicate efficiently cross these borders, i e APIs.

This is an interesting new view and also why the further development of the WSO2 platform will continue to support this notion, both technically and commercially. It will be really exciting to follow the further development of this.


Written by Fredrik Svensson