Kerrie Holley

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Kerrie Holley, Cisco VP and CTO Software Platform Group

Kerrie Holley is an American software architect, author, researcher, consultant, Inventor, retired IBM Fellow and currently a Vice President and CTO at Cisco. He is recognized internationally for his innovative work in architecture and software engineering centered on the adoption of scalable services, next era computing, service-oriented architecture and APIs.


Youth and education[edit]

Holley was raised by his maternal grandmother on the South Side of Chicago. While never having met his father and living in a neighborhood marked by poverty and gang activity, Holley defied social odds by channeling his love for math and science through his academic studies.[1]

He became a student at the Sue Duncan Children’s Center[2] in 1961 where he was tutored in math and science.[citation needed] As he excelled in the program, he became a tutor at the Center, later tutoring current United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan[3] and actor Michael Duncan Clarke.[4]

In 1976 Holley received his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from DePaul University[5] in Chicago, followed by a Juris Doctor Degree in 1982 from DePaul University College of Law.[6][7]

Holley continues to advocate for education. He currently serves as an adviser for the College of Computing and Digital Media[8] at DePaul University.


Holley joined IBM[9] in 1986 as an Advisory Systems Engineer. In 1990 he became an analytics consultant with IBM’s consulting group, now called IBM Global Business Services.[10] He was appointed Chief Technology Officer of IBM’s GBS, AIS and IBM's SOA Center of Excellence where he works with clients to create flexible applications that enable companies to respond to rapidly changing markets. SOA (service-oriented architecture) is a software design methodology based on structured collections of discrete software modules, known as services, that collectively provide the complete functionality of a large or complex software application.

For his work Holley was recognized as an IBM Fellow.[11] In 2000 he was appointed to IBM Distinguished Engineer and in that same year elected to IBM’s Academy of Technology[12] for his sustained contributions in designing high performance financial services applications. Holley is a co-patent owner of the industry’s first SOA method and SOA maturity model, which helps companies develop SOA-based applications and infrastructures.

Most recently (2015) he joined Cisco to advance their software portfolio in analytics and automation.

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • 2003 Black Engineer of the Year
  • 2004 The 50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science [13]
  • 2005-2010 Naval Studies Board member [14]
  • 2006 IBM Fellow, 2nd African American to be appointed in 100 years
  • 2011 Red Herring 100 Global Award Finalist
  • 2012 IBM Master Inventor
  • 2016 Honorary Doctorate Degree and Commencement Speaker, DePaul University [15]


IBM Fellow[edit]

Holley is a Fellow in the Thomas J. Watson Research Center focused on scalable business services and API economy. Previously, he served as a CTO for IBM Global Business Services. In 2006 he was named an IBM Fellow, the Company’s highest technical leadership position.[16] The Fellows program, founded by Thomas J. Watson[17] in 1962, promotes creativity among IBM’s most exceptional technical professionals. The IBM Fellow recognition is the most prestigious recognition in the IBM technical community where the criteria for appointment includes:

  • Distinguished, sustained record of technical achievements (usually a creative contribution to science and technology, landmarks to IBM) and a strong potential for continuing contributions to IBM's growth and stature.

Technical abilities considered are:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Inventive activities
  • Insight into the technical field of expertise
  • Consulting effectiveness and leadership
  • Technical publications
  • Professional society contributions

The criteria for appointment are stringent and take into account only the most significant technical achievements. Appointment as an IBM Fellow, is made by the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, and is a career designation. Since 1963, 217 IBM Fellows have been appointed. Of these, 73 are active employees (as of May 2010).


In November 2010 Holley’s first book "100 SOA Questions: Asked and Answered"[18] was published. The book describes how enterprises can adopt service-oriented architecture.

His next book "Is Your Company Ready for Cloud",[19] co-authored with Pam Isom, was released in 2012.

He is widely published in the field and a sought after speaker and consultant in SOA.[citation needed] His expertise centers on software engineering, architecture and translating business requirements into designs for cutting-edge network centric distributed solutions with a focus on business and IT fusion. Holley’s responsibilities include technical leadership for service-oriented architecture, technical oversight for network centric software engineering projects, adaptive enterprise architecture design, IT strategy, formation of partnerships among clients and vendors, leading architecture reviews and managing technical risks.


Holley owns several patents[20] ranging from how to maintain functionality when faced with component failure, to how to locate lost mobile devices and software engineering patents in service-oriented architecture.

Holley is a co-patent owner[21] of the industry's first SOA development method and first SOA maturity model. The maturity model helps enterprises assess where they are on the road to adopting a Service-Oriented Architecture and provides a plan for achieving an SOA-based infrastructure.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Holley, Kerrie, and Ali Arsanjani. 100 SOA Questions: Asked and Answered. Pearson Education, 2010.

Articles, a selection:

  • Channabasavaiah, Kishore, Kerrie Holley, and Edward Tuggle. "Migrating to a service-oriented architecture." IBM DeveloperWorks 16 (2003).
  • Crawford, C. H., Bate, G. P., Cherbakov, L., Holley, K., & Tsocanos, C. (2005). T"oward an on demand service-oriented architecture." IBM Systems Journal, 44(1), 81-107.
  • Arsanjani, A., Ghosh, S., Allam, A., Abdollah, T., Ganapathy, S., & Holley, K. (2008). "SOMA: A method for developing service-oriented solutions." IBM systems Journal, 47(3), 377-396.


External links[edit]