In my last post I announced that I received my Open CA certification with a brief description on it, along with the differentiation between Open CA and TOGAF certification. This post actually sprung a series of questions from folks wanting to know more information on the certification program. I thought I would share my “Distilled” version to you here in one post and you can refer to the detailed stuff on the Open CA site.
The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) certification program – formerly ITAC – was created in 2005 and now has over 3,150 certified people from 160 companies in over 60 countries worldwide. Open CA is the market-leading independent benchmark by which to identify the existence and validity of an IT or Enterprise Architect‟s skills and experience.
The overview video can be found here: Open CA Overview
The Open CA program allows individuals to differentiate themselves from other IT professionals by achieving a certification that is:
- Skills and experience-based – Open CA goes beyond validating the mastery of any specific knowledge base, ensuring that certified IT Architects possess and exhibit characteristics commensurate with professional criteria based on best practices.
- Peer-reviewed – You attend three one-hour Board reviews by certified IT Architects who ensure that your skills and experience meet the qualification standards.
- Vendor-neutral – Open CA certification criteria are developed by a consortium of globally-recognized industry leaders and the programs are administered by The Open Group – a trusted, vendor-neutral organization.
- Global – The program adheres to a worldwide set of standards.
- Portable – Certification applies to the individual and not the organization and is therefore fully transferable.
The program is based upon four key documents:
- The Certification Policy, which sets out the policies and processes by which an individual may achieve certification.
- The Conformance Requirements, in which the skills and experience that a Certified Architect must possess are documented
- The Accreditation Policy, which sets out the policies and processes by which an organization may achieve accreditation
- The Accreditation Requirements, in which the criteria that must be met by an ACP are documented
Levels of Certification
There are three levels to the Open CA certification. The level depends on where you are at individually on your architecture career path (i.e., the length and characteristics of your experiences). When I was researching this for my certification I reviewed the Certification Guide, Conformance Requirements (Multi-Level) and the Open CA Self-Assessment.
Just like all certifications, I would suggest to be humble and honest with yourself when selecting the right level for you. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure if you just not ready yet. It’s OK to be a level 1 or level 2 architect, both are very respectable and difficult to achieve.
Each level is shown below:
These levels as shown above are described as follows:
- Level 1: Certified – able to perform with assistance/supervision, with a wide range of appropriate
skills, as a contributing architect
- Level 2: Master – able to perform independently and take responsibility for delivery of systems
and solutions as a lead architect
- Level 3: Distinguished – effects significant breadth and depth of impact on the business via one
of three advanced career paths: Chief /Lead Architect, Enterprise Architect, or IT Architect
Advanced Career Paths
So you maybe wondering, what is the difference between these advanced career paths specified in level 3. I wondered that myself as well. I had to dig a little to find it but I finally did. Below is an updated version of the model with the key theme for each career path.
As seen above:
- Chief / Lead Architect is focused on the strategic and broad impact that EA promises. This level not only leads major initiatives but also runs an Enterprise Architecture organization in a role of Chief Architect.
- Enterprise Architect is a very deep expert in the art and science behind architecture. This person lead major initiatives and has impact on the business through bespoke technology savvy.
- Profession Leader represents the architecture profession. Think of this person as an enterprise architecture evangelist. In most cases this person is running EA communities within a company, up-leveling competencies of their architecture capability, discovering and applying new architecture practices and most likely doing a great deal of publishing.
Below is a cheat sheet I created during my research. It’s an image that you can download and use. If you want to modify or tweak to a format of your own, a text based version is below it.
or text version:
Chief/Lead IT Architect
Enterprise IT Architect
Strategic and Broad Business Impact
Expert in IT Architecture
Represents the IT Architect Profession
The role of the Chief/Lead IT Architect is:
· To initiate, business justify, and lead projects for the development of new and sufficiently complex components within the enterprise architecture in the areas of information, applications, and technology, in order to meet business objectives
· To establish an architectural framework that is the foundation for other systems across the organization and is essential for the proper execution and delivery of critical and strategic business systems
· To implement organizational-wide initiatives aimed at supporting the enablement of the IT Architect community through the development of tooling, education, or career enhancement
The role of the Enterprise Architect is:
· To lead the creation and realization of sufficiently complex enterprise architectures
· To establish an architectural framework that is the foundation for other systems across the enterprise and is essential for the proper execution and delivery of critical and strategic business systems
· To implement enterprise-wide initiatives aimed at supporting the enablement of the Enterprise and IT Architect community through the development of tooling, education, or career enhancement
The role of the IT Architect Profession Leader is:
· To promote, establish, or maintain the need, value, and presence of an organization’s IT Architect profession (or architecture consulting practice)
· To evangelize the IT Architect profession within the organization and externally to promote the continued development and effective utilization of the IT Architect community
· To develop and/or maintain and deploy an organization’s IT Architect profession career development model
· To establish and manage an IT Architect profession skills and experienced-based profession model that includes a rigorous validation process (for example, Open CA certification – direct or indirect)
The Chief/Lead IT Architect is:
· An expert in the understanding of architectural principles and their implications to system design, securability, system extensibility and interoperability, costs, and operational considerations
· A student of the profession that is constantly learning and applying new techniques and technologies and seeks to design new innovative architectural solutions
The Enterprise Architect is:
· An expert in the understanding of architectural principles and their application to business architecture, performance management, organizational structure, and process architecture as well as IT architectural aspects such as system design, security, cost, and operational considerations
· A student of the profession that is constantly learning and applying new techniques and technologies and seeking to design new innovative architectural solutions
· A contributor to the profession; by providing best practices and concepts to refine enterprise architecture methodologies, frameworks, and techniques based on practical experiences
The Enterprise Architect is:
· An experienced practitioner who retains the understanding of architectural principles and their implications to system design, securability, system extensibility and interoperability, costs, and operational considerations
· A student of the profession that is constantly learning how the organization can utilize and apply new techniques and technologies and seeks to design new innovative architectural solutions
· An effective leader who influences organizational structure by leading an organization’s IT Architect profession programs and initiatives
I hope you found this helpful. If you are thinking of becoming Open CA certified, best of luck and I hope these materials helped accelerate you on your journey.
For more information see these resources:
- Open CA Site
- Conformance Requirements (Multi-Level) – Skills required
- Guide for Getting Started
- Certification Guide
- Sample Certification Packages
- List of recognized architecture methods can be found here
- Sample Certification Agreement
- Reference Letters FAQ
I’ve just received an email from Steve Philip from Open Group about Open CA and your blog. I should have added this certification to my list of the hardest IT certifications to get. Just wow.
I am really happy that you found this post helpful. if you have any questions in the future let me know.
This is a real acknowledgment of your skill and dedication to your discipline. With this post and the previous entry you take hold of the murky world of certification so that rest of us can benefit.
So it has been a couple of months since you wrote this posting. Can you give us – your readers – a current view. Specifically how are these certifications being used in the hiring or promotion/career development processes? Where do you see the impact of this type of certification a few years from now?
“Certification” scams are similar to Ponzi scheme scams – they are omnipresent. So now I complete Sociology degree and then “certify” myself for EA, and now I am a “certified” architect, is that it?
I, hereby, can certify only that this would relieve you of some $1000 of your hard earned money from your pocket. “Certification” is the way how uneducated people with sociology, psychology, anthropology etc. degrees find shortcut in the system to get salaries they do not deserve, essentially stealing the profession from electrical and computer/software engineers. Interestingly, the decline of North America economy in the last 15 years is matched with same sharp rise in “certifications” scams