The ISEB has announced the replacement of its existing IT ...


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The ISEB has announced the replacement of its existing IT ...

  1. 1. The ISEB has announced the replacement of its existing IT Architecture Certificate by two new Intermediate and Practitioner Certificates, which meet the needs of enterprise architects, solutions architects and systems integrators. What follows is an interview with a member of the working party about these new ISEB certificates in enterprise and solution architecture. Q1) Why make this change? In 2002, the ISEB offered a Practitioner Certificate in IT Architecture based on a syllabus of about 80 items. Training providers then ran courses based on this syllabus. Students sat the exams (either within the course or at a public sitting) and most succeeded in obtaining a certificate. The scheme was internationally-recognised. However, over several years, the ISEB observed that training providers and students were sometimes challenged by differences in • interpretations of the “IT architect” role and • opinions about the best answer to some of the exam questions. In 2007, the ISEB created a working party to overcome these challenges. Over the next year, the working party developed the new ISEB qualifications in Enterprise and Solution Architecture, based on a new reference model with over 400 items. Q2) How did you address interpretations of the “IT architect” role? ISEB research showed that almost nobody calls themselves an IT architect. It identified a family of architect roles in these broad categories: • Enterprise architect • Solutions (sometimes applications) architect • Software (sometimes application) architect • Business architect • Infrastructure/technology architect Both old and new ISEB schemes span all these roles. However, the best fit is to the first two roles, since these are generalists who: • enable and improve business processes • by analysis of data processing systems to • outline better target applications and technology architectures, • under constraints set by enterprise architects, and • to be detailed further by more specialist architects. Enterprise architects set the direction, but solution architects play a pivotal role in practice. And solution architects are a neglected market. Many service providers and systems integrators out there are either not training their solution architects, or offering them training that is designed for other roles. Q3) What makes an ideal enterprise or solution architect? A popular quote is: “The ideal architect should be a man of letters, a mathematician, familiar with historical studies, a diligent student of philosophy, acquainted with music, not ignorant of medicine, learned in the responses of jurisconsults, familiar with astronomy and astronomical calculations.“ Vitruvius, circa 25 BC
  2. 2. You could say the ideal enterprise or solution architect should be a [wo]man of letters, a mathematician, familiar with the history of computing, a student of architecture paradigms and design patterns, acquainted with programming, not ignorant of testing, learned in the responses of technical design authorities, familiar with business concerns and business modelling techniques. In short, the enterprise or solution architect must be a generalist. The ISEB reference model lists goals and skills for the roles (including communication skills) but the point I want make here is that these roles are broad. No one syllabus, training course or examination can be enough to make an architect. The architect is at or near the top of a “T” shaped career path. The role requires extensive experience on a variety of projects. The role spans the spectrum from business concerns to information technologies. Architects usually work at a higher level of abstraction than designers. They must be able to manipulate abstractions. Enterprise architects tend to use generalisation. They generalise across several solutions. They define what can be shared by way of IS/IT strategy, principles, standards, data, and processes. They govern solution architects in their implementation of the generic enterprise architecture. By way of contrast, solution architects tend to use composition. They compose an outline solution. They design coarse-grained components to be elaborated by functional/software/hardware/network architects. Q4) How did you remove ambiguities from exam questions? The working party set out to extend the syllabus. It eventually grew from 2 to 11 pages. But long before we got that far, we realised a syllabus alone would not be enough. It was suggested we look at the reference model for software testing used in the successful certification scheme on that topic. We all agreed the new scheme needed a comparable reference model for architects. The resulting reference model for architects has more than 400 entries under these 11 headings 1. Architecture and architects 2. Architecture precursors 3. Architecture frameworks 4. Business architecture 5. Data architecture 6. Software architecture 7. Applications architecture 8. Design for non-functional requirements 9. Infrastructure architecture 10. Migration planning 11. Architecture management We are pleased with the reference model. It is as comprehensive and consistent from end to end as you could reasonably hope. The purpose of the reference model is to focus and constrain both examiners and training providers. Examination questions should be about the concepts defined in the reference model. Training materials should be consistent with those terms and definitions.
  3. 3. Yet the scheme also allows a lot of flexibility. We expect the reference model to remain relatively stable even if training providers or enterprises change their mind about the processes or notations they want to use. So training providers are free to decide the sequence in which topics are presented in training materials, the "process" that students are taught and the notations they use in architecture models and descriptions. By the way, the reference model is mapped to levels of the Bloom taxonomy. The entries are classified as Foundation, Intermediate and Practitioner. This mapping helps to break up the large reference model into what can reasonably be taught at different levels. Each level of certification embraces the level below. Q5) Can you summarise the aims of this new ISEB scheme? The primary aims are to give enterprise and solution architects a broad framework that covers the range of architecture work that precedes and steers system development, and to focus attention on areas where the architect is responsible for effective design and risk management. A secondary aim is to provide architects with generally applicable knowledge and training. General here means independent of any specific architecture framework (Gartner, TOGAF, etc.). This enables training providers to teach general knowledge and skills, rather than framework-specific terms, concepts, structures and processes.” The ISEB now offer the following two qualifications: • The Intermediate Certificate in Enterprise and Solution Architecture shows that candidates have demonstrated a consistent and comprehensive platform of knowledge about architecture terms and concepts (a prerequisite for the practitioner exam). • The Practitioner Certificate in Enterprise and Solution Architecture shows that candidates have demonstrated application of their intermediate level knowledge to a case study. It also elaborates on the organisation and processes required to manage an architecture successfully. Q6) How does the ISEB scheme differ from TOGAF? The ISEB scheme is pan-framework. It covers general features shared by more specific architecture frameworks, including TOGAF. The experience of students who have attended training for both is that they complement each other by covering overlapping territories with different emphases and in different ways. Anybody with a TOGAF certificate who wants to apply it in practice will find it helpful to attend a training course for the ISEB practitioner certificate. Anybody with an ISEB certificate will find it easier to take on and use TOGAF. The ISEB reference model includes a few TOGAF-specific concepts, and they share some broad topic headings – notably business, data and applications architecture. But training courses and examination questions for the two certificates are surprisingly different, even where they address the same subjects.
  4. 4. TOGAF ISEB E&S Architecture For enterprise architects. For enterprise architects and solution architects. More top down. More bottom up. (E.g. includes Software Architecture) More abstract and logical More concrete and physical. (E.g. includes Design for NFRs) Based on its process (ADM). This Based on a reference model of > 400 items. This is its main strength. is its main strength. Training and examinations focus on Training and examinations are about general the process and other features of architecture concepts, deliverables and TOGAF techniques A framework for contributions from The reference model is consistent from end to hundreds of contributors; with end. inevitable overlaps and inconsistencies. Accreditation constrains training Accreditation constrains training providers less – providers more as to presentation ISEB expect them to add value content Further information The new certificates are described at For your diary: April meeting of the BCS Enterprise Architecture group Talk: New Qualifications for Enterprise & Solution Architects Date: April 7th 2009. Time: Arrive 5.45 pm for 6.15 pm start. Finish about 7.30 pm. Venue: BCS, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA Light refreshments will be available at 5.45 pm.