Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Group aims to make IT architects 'distinguished'

The Open Group, a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium, has taken certification to a new level with the announcement of its Distinguished Certified IT Architect designation within the IT Architect Certification program (ITAC).

As enterprise IT moves into new, uncharted waters -- especially the area that encompasses services oriented architecture (SOA) -- one of the chief concerns has been the availability, or lack of availability, of the trained and experienced architects who are necessary to make the vision a reality.

Begun two years ago, ITAC, a peer-review process, has already certified over 2,000 architects from some of the largest names in global enterprises. The new level of certification will require that individuals demonstrate a history of significant impact to the business through the application of IT architecture.

[Disclosure: I recently moderated an Open Group panel.]

The Open Group had already set the bar pretty high for architects certified at the basic level. Steve Nunn, the group's COO, told BriefingsDirect in a round-table discussion last March that one of the initial steps for certification was compiling a resume, and, in some cases, that has amounted to a 52-page document.

The core attributes expected from the Distinguished Certified IT Architect include:

  • Executive level communication skills
  • Responsibility for significantly complex architecture engagements
  • A demonstrated architectural vision for key business initiatives
  • Governance expertise

The new certification provides for three distinct career paths: chief/lead architect, profession executive, and enterprise architect.

A great deal of will power and leadership charisma will be required to make inroads toward SOA benefits.

This means that the architects of SOA must be as much evangelists and consensus-builders as technologists. They must be trusted and absolutely respected. Pointy-haired bosses ala Dilbert need not apply.

SOA architects must also balance short-term business outcomes with longer-term objectives aimed at maintaining quality and maximizing IT value. Too often architecture has been focused on discrete initiatives or infrastructure projects, such as server architecture or network architecture, rather than the broader IT perspective.

The concept of total architect also jibes well with Total Architecture, a topic I explored in a recent podcast with Dr. Paul Brown, author of “Succeeding with SOA: Realizing Business Value Through Total Architecture.”