Friday, November 04, 2005

Vendor-Neutral I/T Architect Certification

Nearly every major software vendor has some kind of certification program to help identify people who meet a certain minimum set of standards in regards to a particular type of skill in I/T. Microsoft, for example, has many different ones including Microsoft Certified System Engineers, Microsoft Certified Database Administrators, and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer. See their certifications page for a complete list.

Sun has another group of certifications which are well known, particularly in the Java community including Sun Certified Developer and Sun Certified Enterprise Architect. See their Java certifications page.

And my employer IBM has a long list of product-focused certifications including things like IBM Certified System Administrator - WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V6.0 and IBM Certified Associate Developer - Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software V6.0.

All of these technology certifications have one flaw, if you want to call it that. They are tied pretty closely to a vendor. Some are even tied to specific release levels of a particular product of a particular vendor. What about us I/T Architects whose value to the application development process is not really dependent upon whether I’m using IBM or BEA application servers? Does my contribution vary depending on whether I’m using version 5.0, 5.1, or 6.0 ?

What you may find yourself wanting is vendor-neutral, externally recognized certification that is not tied to a particular technology company or version.

The project management community seems to have this problem solved already. They have one of the most widely recognized certifications of this type. You may have heard of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute.

Well... all you architects out there who have been having certification envy of our project management friends, you no longer have to wait. The Open Group which pushes I/T standards and its vision of “Boundaryless Information Flow™” has started an I/T Architect Certification Program which should become similarly well recognized and valued.

And.. if you happen to work for an employer who has their own internal I/T Architect program (IBM is one, HP is another I think) and they get their program certified by The Open Group, you will be able to stake claim the externally recognized Open Group I/T Architect Certification as well. This should play well with future clients or employers.

No more certification envy! Parity with Project Managers! I/T Architects Rule! (sorry, couldn’t resist)

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the open group certification link, Certification like these will be more valued than individual product specific certifications, as you rightly said that Architects are above the "product-version" cycle, hope this fills in the void in Architectosphere..

James McGovern said...

The problem with most industry certifications is that they are usually championed by software vendors and training providers such that they are comprimised out of the gate.

Likewise, many consulting entities especially in the agile community require taking courses from selected individuals (SCRUM courses come to mind) with the belief that knowledge can only be obtained in a very specific way.

If certification efforts had equal representation in terms of headcount between the traditional creators and employees of large enterprises then it would become more useful.

Other than that, certification has to be inexpensive. With shrinking budgets, outsourcing and other things grabbing the money out of folks pocket, it needs to be at most one or two exams that cost no more than $100.