Thursday 12 June 2008
Last week I met John Zachman. I wrote about Mr. Zachman and the Zachman model he created earlier.
Mr. Zachman gave the keynote speech on the EAM congress in The Netherlands for about 150 IT architects. The talk was about architecture, and why it is needed. Check here for the slides (push the right-hand button for the next slide).
According to Mr. Zachman, architecture is needed in any system (in IT or otherwise) that has much complexity and a need for change. The reason for this is that if you cannot describe a system, you cannot build it, let alone change it. For systems with low complexity, a architecture description is not always needed, a technical design is enough.
The most important skill an architect needs is what Mr. Zachman calls "drafting skills".
Next, Mr. Zachman explained the reasoning behind the Zachman architecture model. He calls the model an Ontology (no methodology), because it describes what needs to be done to create complex systems. The model was created after consulting many construction engineers, architects and other specialists.
Mr. Zachman pointed out that no one can get his brain around the complete architecture, so it has to be cut into pieces. As he stated: "creating for instance a data model is hard enough in its own right, let alone understanding the connection with interfaces, processes, strategy, etc.". When the architecture is cut into pieces, like it is done in the Zachman model, it can better cope with change.
It is a misconception that flexibility can be reached by creating higher granularity. Flexibility can only be created by separating independent variables, like it is done in the ISO networking stack.
Mr. Zachman is a gifted speaker who speaks faster and faster as he gets excited telling his story. He used old fashioned overhead foils instead of PowerPoint. After the talk I met him and talked about half an hour with him about my thoughts about the position of architecture, his family and his frequent travelling.
Friday 06 June 2008
I am working on getting the ITAC certification. ITAC stands for the IT Architect Certification program from The Open Group. For IT architects there are several certifications. Check this article for more on the various possibilities.
The Open Group has two certification programs: TOGAF certified and ITAC.
TOGAF certification tells something about the TOGAF knowledge of the architect. One can learn the TOGAF book and do a multiple choice computer based exam. If the exam is done in good standing, the architect is certified. TOGAF certification looks very much like PRINCE 2 certification for project managers.
ITAC certification does not tell what an architect knows, but what experience he has and what personal skills he has. For ITAC certification, it is not needed to be TOGAF certified or even know the TOGAF framework. One must prove to be able to have done architectural work in real life situations for many years. ITAC certification is very much like IPMA certification for project managers.
There are about 2200 ITAC certified architects around the world.
The ITAC certification is an international standard. There are three levels:
Certified IT Architect
Master Certified IT Architect
Distinguished Certified IT Architect
Level 1 is the easiest to get, level 3 the hardest.
To get ITAC certification, a so called certification package must be created by the applicant. This certification package must contain proof of the various ITAC conformance requirements, including signed documents from clients the architect worked for. After the certification package is applied, the architect is invited to visit a certification board. The architect must then present a case from his certification package to the certification board. The certification board will ask questions to the architect. And if all goes well, the architect can receive certification.
The requirements that lead to the certification package are not easy to conform to. Here is a document describing all ITAC requirements. Some examples are:
- The Candidate must prove that given a scope of architectural work to be accomplished, he planned the work, formed a team to perform the work, and guided the team in performing the work to completion.
- The Candidate must mediate opposing viewpoints and negotiate equitable solutions to ensure successful and stable outcomes.
- The Candidate must prove to have used modeling techniques – such as use case, scenario modeling, prototyping, benchmarking, and performance modeling – to describe the problem space, to size the solution and to validate that the proposed architecture addresses the business requirements.
- The Candidate must have been responsible for the architecture definition activity of a project or engagement across the full lifecycle appropriate to that project or engagement, and must have been involved as an IT Architect, or in some other capacity working with others, to ensure the architecture has been realized.
In total 38 of these type of requirements are stated.
One of the hardest is:
- The Application Package must contain a list of experiences in each of which the Candidate has successfully applied a recognized method.
A list of recognized methods can be found here.
The ITAC certification is very hard to get, but it is a very valuable title to have as an architect.