Who took over Microsoft’s Certified Architecture Program?

In one of my previous posts I shared an email and press release from IASA on the subject. Now I am seeing that the Open Group is debating that fact.

So did Microsoft name IASA’s CITA-P certification replacement for the MCA program?
According to the Open Group, No. Microsoft will fund a three year membership in AOGEA, or a one-year membership in IASA and the opportunity to be IASA certified. AOGEA does not recommend that MCA certified individuals replace their certification with any other certification because it still entitles you to the same benefits and privileges, now with the added value of being a part of the AOGEA community.

See the Open Group FAQ for more details: http://www.aogea.org/membership/mca.jsp

So what does this mean? Not one group took over the MCA program to begin with. It’s simply a conversion program for certifications. Microsoft needed to put them somewhere so they diversified. It looks like the terms of the conversion with IASA is a bit different in that it really isn’t a conversion but rather the door in for another test to becomes a certified IASA architect.

The Open Group looks like they are respecting the merits of the MCA program and accepting MCA architects with arms wide open.

No these architects have to ask themselves, which one is more appealing?


A Fool with a Tool is still a Fool

Mike Walker's Blog: I pitty the fool

Today I was asked a series interesting questions in regards to why architects are so insistent on collecting models. He asked with passion, why there was a need to capture information from across the enterprise in a systematic way. Of course it didn’t help that there was the beginnings of an architectural current state analysis and road mapping exercise on my whiteboard and posted on my wall.

This led into a series of very challenging questions posed:

  • Why would you build a model/picture of an environment or set of systems when you could just walk down the hall and talk to the person that wrote it?
  • Isn’t a model subject to interpretation?
  • If the architects in the company are looking at these models and making decisions how can we be sure they are making the right ones based on potential inaccuracy of the models.

After talking for about an hour about this I was able to finally get to the source of all the questions. As a developer, this person felt that architects and technical decision makers in the organization would take these models and make decisions in isolation and potentially abused on false information that would in turn potentially impact the developer in a negative way. Now we are getting somewhere… We have a case of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt or FUD. But, this fear is a common fear, especially if the organization has gone from little to no architecture maturity to the very beginnings of a structured architecture discipline.

So we have some FUD here, is this unfounded? Absolutely not. Believe it or not, sometimes architects over engineer or model an application, solution, platform or an enterprise in a less than optimal way. Sometimes downright inaccurate way. So is it fair to be worried, YES!

So this is where we actually get into why I label the post the way I did. So in the analogy, “A Fool with a Tool, is still a Fool” we have a direct correlation with this scenario.

When we look at the “Tool”, it would be the architectural artifact. This could be an architecture description, a model or a set of data supporting a solution.

Mike Walker's Blog: A Fool with a Tool, is still a fool

The “Fool” or potential fool is either the creator or the end user of the specific artifact. Let’s just say that it is an architect for a moment. The architect who is going to use this tool or architecture model for a very specific set of purposes. One being, to make decisions.

For example, if the architect is going to use this information to make decisions it is the responsibility of that architect to think about the following questions:

  • Is this the right model I should be basing by decisions off of?
  • How accurate is the information displayed in the model? If unsure, ask someone.
  • Understand the following principle “all models are false but some are useful”. Models that are created will sometimes have interpretation of a problem built in. As an architect you need to know how to quickly identify these areas.
  • What was the created date?
  • Are there tools and mechanisms that keep the information refreshed and thus the model can be trusted better.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to ask a lot questions!

What about these initial questions around the validity of the architectural approach? Has anything changed? Do we change the way we make decisions? No you do not. All of these questions center around information quality and collaboration. These are core tenets of good architecture practices. Models are extremely useful if used properly. However, we always need to be mindful of the fact, garbage in equals garbage out. The architecture model is only useful as the diligence that went into it, the maintenance of the information and that it is verified as valid ongoing.

The focus on the model specifically is actually the wrong center of focus. The center of focus should actually be on the user of that model. Let’s change the scenario and say that the model is actually 100% accurate. However, the architect that uses it isn’t the most seasoned and makes bad decisions off of a very accurate model. Where is the breakdown?

At the end of the day, the best tools still need a qualified operator. That is the essence of the analogy and why it applies so much to this scenario.

So if you are not challenging and following models blindly, yes, you are the fool in the scenario. But if you understand that architecture artifacts are just one tool in the toolbox and those tools need to be sharpened, tuned and even sometimes upgraded you’ll be just fine.

Microsoft’s Certified Architect (MCA) replaced by IASA’s CITA-P Certification


IASA’s CITA-P Certification Named by Microsoft to Replace the Microsoft Certified Architect
Austin, TX, (PRWEB) May 3, 2010 — In a conference call and email announcement on Wednesday April, 28, Microsoft Learning announced that it would discontinue offering the Infrastructure and Solutions architect certifications, and would fund the migration to the Certified IT Architect Professional (CITA-P) offered by the International Association of Software Architects (IASA).

IASA has created a grandfathering process to allow easy adoption of the CITA-P certification for current Microsoft Certified Architects holding the Solutions or Infrastructure specialization. As MCA’s have already gone through a rigorous interview process similar to the CITA-P Board review, the grandfathering process focuses on mapping skills and experience to the IASA skills taxonomy.

Andy Ruth, the Vice President of Education for IASA, launched the MCA Infrastructure and the MCA Solutions credential in 2004 while with Microsoft Learning. According to Microsoft, the credentials were launched to help establish the IT Architect profession at a time when the IT industry needed thought leadership and architectural taxonomy.

Ruth believes the profession should be self managed by the practitioners in the form of a professional association, as in other industries–medical, legal, etc. “The certification of a profession needs to be run by the profession, not from within a vendor with a specific product or technology. Microsoft releasing the certification to IASA is recognition of that.”

“IASA is not trying to sell a product or specific technology, so individuals and organizations can be confident there are no ulterior motives in their certification and education programs,” said Paul Preiss begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting, CEO of IASA. “IASA’s mission is to support architects on their career path, and ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver on the core value proposition of the profession: to make and save their employer money through the use of information technology (IT).”

Darren Day, Microsoft Certification Business Manager, who hosted the call for Microsoft said that IASA has "developed large and supportive communities dedicated to the IT Architect profession.” He continued, “They are technology agnostic, respected in the industry, and offer trusted IT architectural programs and credentials for the breadth architect.”

Read the entire release at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/05/prweb3946754.htm or go towww.iasahome.org to find out more.