Tag Archives: professionalization

PODCAST: How the role of certification impacts professionalization of IT and skills management

By Dana Gardner, Interabor Solutions

Listen to this recorded podcast here: Architect Certification Increasingly Impacts Professionalization of IT in Cloud Era

The following is the transcript of a sponsored podcast panel discussion on certification and its impact on the professionalization of IT and skills management, in conjunction with the The Open Group Conference, Austin 2011.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Austin, Texas, the week of July 18, 2011. We’ve assembled a panel to update us on the impact and role of certifications for IT professionals. We’ll examine how certification for enterprise architects, business architects, and such industry initiatives as ArchiMate® are proving instrumental as IT organizations seek to reinvent themselves.

There are now a lot of shifts in skills and a lot of movement about how organizations should properly staff themselves. There have been cost pressures and certification issues for regulation and the adoption of new technologies. We’re going to look at how all these are impacting the role of certification out in the field. Here to help us better understand how an organization like The Open Group is alleviating the impact and importance of IT skills and role certification amid this churning change in the IT organizations is Steve Philp. He is the Marketing Director for Professional Certification at The Open Group. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Philp: Thank you.

Gardner: We are also here with Andrew Josey. He is Director of Standards at The Open Group. Welcome, Andrew.

Andrew Josey: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And we’re here with James de Raeve. He is Vice President of Certification at The Open Group. Hello, James.

James de Raeve: Thanks, Dana.

Gardner: Let’s start with you. As I said, we’re seeing a lot of change about many things in IT, but certainly how to properly staff, especially as you start to consider outsourcing options and Cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) types of options. Organizations are also looking at consolidation around their applications and infrastructure. So there’s quite a bit of change. Naturally, the people in the “people, processes, and technology” spectrum need to be addressed. From your perspective, why is there the need for more professionalization, or what are the trends that are driving the need to reexamine your staff and how to properly certify your IT leadership?

de Raeve: The primary driver here that we’re hearing from members and customers is that they need to get more out of the investments that they’re making — their payroll for their IT staff. They need to get more productivity. And that has a number of consequences.

Realizing talent

They want to ensure that the people they are employing and that they’re staffing their teams with are effective. They want to be sure that they’re not bringing in external experts when they don’t need to. So there is a need to realize the talent that they’ve actually got in their internal IT community and to develop that talent, nurture it, and exploit it for the benefit of the organization.

And professionalism, professionalization, and profession frameworks are all tools that can be used in identifying, measuring, and developing the talents and capabilities of your people. That seems to be the major driver.

Gardner: Steve, any further thoughts on the trends that are driving certification and professionalization issues?

Steve PhilpPhilp: Something I have noticed since joining The Open Group is that we’ve got some skills and experience-based certifications. They seem to be the things that people are particularly interested in, because it’s not just a test of your knowledge about a particular vendor or product, but how you have applied your skills and experience out there in the marketplace. They have proven to be very successful in helping people assess where they are and in working towards developing a career path. That’s one of the areas of certification that things are going to move more towards — more skills and experience-based certification programs in organizations.

Gardner: Where are we seeing this most in demand? Are there particular types of technology certification or professional role certification that are in the most demand? Where is this the most hot or impactful right now?

Philp: Looking at certification in general, you still have areas like Microsoft MCSE, Microsoft technical specialist, application development, and project management that are in demand, and things like CCNA from Cisco. But I’ve also noticed a lot more in the security field. CISSP and CCSA seem to be the ones that are always getting a lot of attention. In terms of security, the trends in mobile computing, cloud computing, means that security certification is a big growth area.

We’re just about to put a security track into our Certified IT Specialist Program at The Open Group, so there will be a skills and experience-based track for security practitioners soon.

Gardner: James, of course we should point out for our listeners that we’re not just talking about certification from vendors and suppliers about the specific products and/or platforms, but we’re really looking at a skill- and roles-based approach. Maybe you could help us distinguish between the two and why it’s important to do so?

de Raeve: The difference, as Steve alluded to, is that there is a whole world out there of technology and product-related certifications that are fulfilling a very important function in helping people establish and demonstrate their knowledge of those particular products and technologies.

But there is a need for people too in the building of teams and in the delivering of results to nurture and grow their people to be team players and team participants and to be able to work with them to function within the organization as, for want of a better term, “t-shaped people,” where there are a number of soft and people-related skills and potentially architecture related skills for the IT specialists, and skills and capabilities enable people to be rounded professionals within an organization.

T-shaped people

It’s that aspect that differentiates the professionalization and the profession-oriented certification programs that we’re operating here at The Open Group — The Open Certified Architect, The Open Certified IT Specialist. Those are t-shaped people and we think that makes a huge difference. It’s what’s going to enable organizations to be more effective by developing their people to have that more rounded t-shaped capability.

Gardner: Andrew, with the emphasis on standards and your role there, how does the impact of certification on the ability to adhere to and exploit standards come together? What’s the relationship between making sure you have standardization around your people and their skill sets, but also being able to exploit standardization and even more automation across your organization?

Josey: We see the certification as being the ultimate drive in the uptake of the standards, and so we’re able to go from not just having a standard on the shelf to actually seeing it being deployed in the field and used. We’ve actually got some people certification programs, such as TOGAF®, and we’ve got some over 20,000 practitioners now.

We’ve gone through the certification program and we’ve been using and evangelizing, TOGAF as a standard in the field and then feeding that back to our members and, through the association, the feedback improvements to the standards. So it’s very much part of the end-to-end ecosystem — developing a standard for deploying it, and getting people on it, and then getting the feedback in the right way.

Gardner: I suppose that as organizations want to create a level playing field, we’re starting to see calls for this type of certification in requests for proposal (RFPs) around projects. For folks on the buy side who are seeking either people or the suppliers themselves, a supply chain and ecosystem of providers, how much is certification playing a role and how they can pick and choose among each other with some sense of trust and reliability?

Philp: It’s very much an important part of the process now. TOGAF and IT Architect Certification (ITAC) have appeared in a number of RFPs for government and for major manufacturing organizations. So it’s important that the suppliers and the buyers recognize these programs.

Similarly with recruitment, you find that things like TOGAF will appear in most recruitment ads for architects. Certainly, people want knowledge of it, but more and more you’ll see TOGAF certification is required as well.

ITAC, which is now Open CA, has also appeared in a number of recruitment ads for members like Logica, Capgemini, Shell. More recently, organizations like the CBS, EADS, ADGA Group, Direct Energy have requested it. And the list goes on. It’s a measure of how important the awareness is for these certifications and that’s something we will continue to drive at The Open Group.

Gardner: All right, Steve, thanks for that. As you mentioned, there have been some changes in terms of the branding around some of these. Let’s take a quick review if we could around what’s being happening at the Austin Conference, but also what’s new and what’s been going on with the branding. Let’s look at the TOGAF, ArchiMate®, and business architecture certifications. What’s new and interesting there?

In development

Josey: I am speaking up on what we are doing in ArchiMate first, before I talk about TOGAF, and then Steve will tell us what the Business Forum is up to.

ArchiMate certification is something new that we’re developing right now. We haven’t deployed a certification program as yet. The previous certification program was under the ArchiMate Foundation, which was the body that developed ArchiMate, before it transferred into The Open Group.

We’re currently working on the new program which will be similar to some aspects of our TOGAF program, and it’ll be knowledge base certification with an assessment by exam and a practical assessment in which the candidate can actually do modeling. So this will be people certification and there will also be accredited training course certification.

And then also what we’re going to do there is actually to provide certification for tools. There will be certifications there.

That’s pretty much what we’re doing in ArchiMate, so we don’t have a firm timeline. So it will not be available it looks like, probably towards the end of the year would be the earliest, but possibly early next year.

Gardner: Knowing that we reach a wide audience, could you give a quick overview of what ArchiMate is for those who might not be familiar.

Josey: ArchiMate is a modeling language for enterprise architecture (EA) in general and specifically it’s a good fit for TOGAF. It’s a way of communicating and developing models for TOGAF EA. Originally it was developed by the Telematica Instituut and funded, I think, by the EU and a number of commercial companies in the Netherlands. It was actually brought into The Open Group in 2008 by the ArchiMate Foundation and is now managed by the ArchiMate Forum within The Open Group.

Gardner: Now we’re going to hear an update on TOGAF.

Josey: The latest version of TOGAF is TOGAF 9 for certification. As we mentioned earlier, there are two types of certification programs, skills and knowledge based. TOGAF falls into the knowledge based camp. We have two levels. TOGAF 9 Foundation, which is our level one, is for individuals to assess that they know the terminology and basic concepts of EA in TOGAF.

Level two, which is a superset of level one, in addition assesses analysis and comprehension. The idea is that some people who are interested in just getting familiar with TOGAF and those people who work around enterprise architects can go into TOGAF Foundation. And these enterprise architects themselves should initially start with the TOGAF Certified, the level two, and then perhaps move on later to Open CA. That will be helpful.

For TOGAF 9 Certification, we introduced that by midyear 2009. We launched TOGAF 9 in February, and it took a couple of months to just roll out all these certifications through all the exam channels. Since then, we’ve gone through 8,000 certifications (see June blog post). We’ve seen that two-thirds of those were at the higher level, level two, for EA practitioners and one-third of those are currently at the foundation level.

Gardner: And lastly, business architecture?

A new area

Philp: Business architecture is a new area that we’ve been working on. Let me just to go back to what we did on the branding, because it ties in with that. We launched The Open Group’s new website recently and we used that as the opportunity to re-brand ITAC as The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) program. The IT Specialist Certification (ITSC) has now become The Open Group Certified IT Specialist or Open CITS Program.

We did the rebranding at that time, because we wanted to be it associated with the word “open.” We wanted to give the skills and experience-based certification a closer linkage to The Open Group. That’s why we changed from ITAC to Open CA. But, we’ve not changed the actual program itself. Candidates still have to create a certification package and be interviewed by three board members, and there are still three levels of certification: Certified, Master, and Distinguished.

However, what we’re intending to do is have some core requirements that architects need to meet, and then add some specific specializations for different types of architects. The one that we’ve been working on the most recently is the Business Architecture Certification. This came about from an initiative about 18 months ago.

We formed something called the Business Forum with a number of Platinum Members who got involved with it –companies like IBM, HP, SAP, Oracle and Capgemini. We’ve been defining the conformance requirements for the business architecture certification. It’s going through the development process and hopefully will be launched sometime later this year or early next year.

Gardner: I’m interested in how this is making a difference in the field. There’s a lot of change going on this consolidation. There’s re-factoring of what’s core and what’s context in what IT department should focus on and, therefore, what their skill sets need to be. They’re adopting new technologies. I wonder if you have any examples of where we’ve seen certification come to play when an organization is looking to change its workforce. Any thoughts about some organizations and what the impact has been?

de Raeve: There’s a very good example of an organization that had exactly that problem, and they’ve done a presentation about this in one of our conferences. It’s Philips, and they used to have an IT workforce that was divided among the business units. The different businesses had their own IT function.

They changed that and went to a single IT function across the organization, providing services to the businesses. In doing so, they needed to rationalize things like grades, titles, job descriptions, and they were looking around for a framework within which they could do this and they evaluated a number of them.

They were working with a partner who wass helping them do this. The partner was an Open Group member and suggested they look at The Open Group’s IT Specialist Certification, the CITS Certification Program, as it provides a set of definitions for the capabilities and skills required for IT professionals. They picked it up and used it, because it covered the areas they were interested in.

This was sufficient and complete enough to be useful to them, and it was vendor-neutral, and an industry best practice. So they could pick this up and use it with confidence. And that has been very successful. They initially benchmarked their entire 900 strong IT workforce against The Open Group definition, so they could get to calibrate themselves, where their people were on their journey through development as professionals.

They’ve started to embrace the certification programs as a method of not only measuring their people, but also rewarding them. It’s had a very significant impact in terms of not only enabling them to get a handle upon their people, but also in terms of their employee engagement. In the engagement surveys that they do with their staff, some of the comments they got back after they started doing this process were, “For the first time we feel like management is paying attention to us.”

It was very positive feedback, and the net result is that they are well on their way to meeting their goal of no longer having automatically to bring in an external service provider whenever they were dealing with a new project or a new topic. They know that they’ve got people with sufficient expertise in-house on their own payroll now. They’ve been able to recognize that capability, and the use of it has had a very positive effect. So it’s a very strong good story.

I think that the slides will be available to our members in the conference’s proceedings from the London Conference in April. That will be worth something to look at.

Gardner: Where would you go for more information, if you were a practitioner, a budding enterprise architect and you wanted to certify yourself and/or if you were in an organization trying to determine more precisely what certification would mean to you as you’re trying to reengineer, modernize and right-size your organization? Where do you go for more information?

Philp: If you go to The Open Group website, http://www.opengroup.org/certifications, all of the people-based certifications are there, along with the benefits for individuals, benefits for organizations and various links to the appropriate literature. There’s also a lot of other useful things, like self-assessment tests, previous webinars, sample packages, etc. That will give you more of an idea of what’s required for certification along with the conformance requirements and other program documentation. There’s a lot of useful information on the website.

Gardner: Very good. We’ve been discussing how the role and impact of IT Certification is growing and some of the reasons for that. We’ve also looked at how organizations like The Open Group are elevating the role of certification and providing means to attain it and measure it the standard.

I’d like to thank our guests for delivering this sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Austin, Texas, the week of July 18, 2011 We’ve been joined by our panel, Steve Philp, he is the Marketing Director for Professional Certification at the Open Group. Thank you, Steve.

Philp: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And we are also have been joined by by Andrew Josey, Director of Standards at The Open Group. Thank you, Andrew.

Josey: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And lastly, James de Raeve, he is the Vice President of Certification, once again at The Open Group. Thanks James.

de Raeve: Thank you, Dana, and thanks to everyone who has listened.

Gardner: Right. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com.

Copyright The Open Group 2011. All rights reserved.

Dana Gardner is the Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which identifies and interprets the trends in Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and enterprise software infrastructure markets. Interarbor Solutions creates in-depth Web content and distributes it via BriefingsDirect™ blogs, podcasts and video-podcasts to support conversational education about SOA, software infrastructure, Enterprise 2.0, and application development and deployment strategies.

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Filed under Certifications, Enterprise Architecture

Is Enterprise Architecture a Profession?

By Jason Uppal, QRS

I have been involved with the Enterprise Architecture (EA) industry for the past 12 years. If the number of open positions for Enterprise Architects is any indication, there are a great many vacancies for EA opportunities that are going unfulfilled. Every time we discuss how to close this supply and demand gap for architects, the same question arises time and time again – is Enterprise Architecture a profession or discipline? Having some insight to this question – if not a complete answer – will help us further define the curriculum, mentoring and process to develop architects.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss what makes a profession and how to apply this to Enterprise Architecture. The July-August 2010 Harvard Business Review explored a similar subject – Is management a profession or discipline? I would like to apply the same thinking to Enterprise Architecture and would welcome your comments.

What makes a Profession?

The HBR article outlined the following characteristics of a profession:

  • Professions are made up of particular categories of people from whom we seek advice and services because they have knowledge and skills that we do not.
  • We cannot judge the quality of information ourselves even after the actions according to the advice and/or service has been implemented.
  • Since a professional is an expert and we are not, there is always an asymmetry of knowledge.


Scenario for Medicine as a Profession

Let’s apply these characteristics to a well-known profession such as a physician. After a four-year hiatus from marathon running, I asked my family doctor for advice on how to approach my training, the goal being that I just wanted to complete the marathon in less than four hours. He reviewed my physical condition, training plan and demeanour from past records and provided me with a training plan, nutrition plan and regular checkup schedule. During the training, he helped me understand how best to use the tools he provided. The final result, I completed the run in 3 hours and 45 minutes, without injuring myself, and still had enough strength to celebrate afterwards.

Situation Diagnostics – Could another physician have given me a different plan that would achieve the same results? The answer is perhaps yes, but as an information seeker I would have never known. I needed to trust my physician as the expert and that I did not have the expertise to judge the quality of his advice. This information asymmetry will permanently exist.

Scenario for an Enterprise Architecture as a Profession

Let’s apply similar scenario to an Enterprise Architect. Three years ago, I was asked by a manufacturing VP (George) to help upgrade his company’s aging manufacturing production infrastructure with a financially viable business case. For simplicity, let’s ignore other constraints for now. I studied the current situation, defined the target state, quantified the business benefit of being at the target state, validated it with key stakeholders, defined the transition map, created the architecture  — including total cost, benefits, risk and impact of the change on people. We presented the architecture and business case to the CEO in three slides and in seven minutes. He looked at both of us and said, “Are you telling me that you can solve the production problems at that price” – which was half of the anticipated price – “and deliver these benefits by this schedule?” The answer came, “Yes sir”. He immediately said, “George, we should do this program.”

Situation Diagnostics: I framed the problem, defined, implemented and exploited the capabilities to deliver the results at a certain cost and risk appetite. Would George – given his own abilities – be able to determine that the problem could have been solved for half the costs and less risk and impact to the organization? The answer is no, unless he asks another architect for a second review of the problem. This option is not very realistic in practice.

In conclusion, I would like to say that Enterprise Architecture is a profession where we define the role of Enterprise Architect as a person who takes responsibility for the definition and development of necessary Enterprise Capabilities required to achieve the goals and provide expertise based in leading the exploitation of those capabilities until the intended outcome is achieved. This is no different from what I asked my physician in the scenario above.

Are we ready to define and accept Enterprise Architect’s role as above? I welcome all feedback … negative and positive.

This post was originally posted to the QRS blog on April 16.

The profession of Enterprise Architecture is a subject that will be discussed in depth during The Open Group Conference, London, May 9-13, both in public sessions and during The Open Group Architecture Forum meetings. Join us in London for best practices and case studies on Enterprise Architecture, Cloud, Security and more, presented by preeminent thought leaders in the industry.

Jason Uppal, P.Eng. is the Chief Architect at QRS and was the first Master IT Architect certified by The Open Group, by direct review, in October 2005. He holds an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, graduate degree in Economics and a post graduate diploma in Computer Science. Jason’s commitment to Enterprise Architecture Life Cycle (EALC) has led him to focus on training (TOGAF®), education (UOIT) and mentoring services to his clients as well as being the responsible individual for both Architecture and Portfolio & Project Management for a number of major projects. Jason has found that education is only beneficial to those companies who can industrialize the EALC process – staff must be able to implement what they have learned. To that end, he lead a team of java software developers to develop an end to end industrialization product which encapsulates Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio and Project Management, Project Management and  IT Services Management processes. Implementing this software product, ITO, (www.itoProcesses.com.) permits companies to take full advantage of TOGAF® and any other custom processes which might already be in place within their organization.

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Filed under Enterprise Architecture

PODCAST: Examining the current state of Enterprise Architecture with The Open Group’s Steve Nunn

By Dana Gardner, Interabor Solutions

Listen to this recorded podcast here: BriefingsDirect-Open Group COO Steve Nunn on EA Professional Groups

The following is the transcript of a sponsored podcast panel discussion on the state of EA, from The Open Group Conference, San Diego 2011.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with The Open Group Conference held in San Diego, the week of February 7, 2011. We’re here with an executive from The Open Group to examine the current state of enterprise architecture (EA). We’ll hear about how EA is becoming more business-oriented and how organizing groups for the EA profession are consolidating and adjusting. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

We’ll get an update on The Association of Open Group Enterprise Architects (AOGEA) and learn more about its recent merger with the Association of Enterprise Architects. What’s more, we’ll get an assessment of the current maturity levels and overall professionalism drive of EA, and we’re going to learn more about what to expect from the EA field and these organizing groups over the next few years.

Here to help us delve into the current state of EA, please join me now in welcoming Steve Nunn, Chief Operating Officer of The Open Group and CEO of The Association of Open Group Enterprise Architects.

Welcome back, Steve.

Steve Nunn: Hi, Dana. Good to be back.

Gardner: We’re hearing an awful lot these days about EA being dead, outmoded, or somehow out of sync. I know there’s a lot more emphasis on the business issues, rather than just the technical or IT issues, but what’s going on with that? Are we at a point where this topic, this professional category, is in some danger?

Nunn: Absolutely not. EA is very much the thing of the moment, but it’s also something that’s going to be with us for the foreseeable future too. Both inside The Open Group and the AOGEA, we’re seeing significant growth and interest in the area of EA. In the association, it’s individuals becoming certified and wanting to join a professional body for their own purposes and to help the push to professionalize EA.

Within The Open Group, it’s entities and organizations. Whether they be commercial, governments, academic, they are regularly joining The Open Group Architecture Forum. So, it’s far from dead and in terms of the importance of business overall, EA being relevant to business.

Tomorrow’s plenary session here at the Conference is a good example. It’s about using EA for business transformation. It’s about using EA to tie IT into the business. There is no point in doing IT for IT’s sake. It’s there to support the business, and people are finding that one way of doing that is EA.

Gardner: I would think too, Steve, that some of the major trends around mobile, security, and cyber risk would augment the need for a more holistic governing role, and the architect seems to fit that bill quite nicely. So is there wind in your sails around some of these trends?

Central to the organization

Nunn: Absolutely. We’re seeing increasingly that you can’t just look at EA in some kind of silo. It’s more about how it fits. It’s so central to an organization and the way that organizations are built that it has all of the factors that you mentioned. Security is a good one, as well as cloud. They’re all impacted by EA. EA has a role to play in all of those.

Inside the Open Group, what’s happening is a lot of cross-functional working groups between the Architecture Forum, the Security Forum, and the Cloud Work Group, which is just recognition of that fact. But, the central tool of it is EA.

Gardner: In addition to recognizing that the function of the EA is important, you can’t just have people walking the door and say, well, I’m an enterprise architect. It’s hard to define the role, but it seems necessary. Tell me about the importance of certification, so that we really know what an enterprise architect is.

Nunn: That’s right. Everyone seems to want to be an enterprise architect or an IT architect right now. It’s that label to have on your business card. What we’re trying to do is separate the true architects from one of these, and certification is a key part of that.

If you’re an employer and you’re looking to take somebody on to help in the EA role, then it’s having some means to assess whether somebody really has any experience of EA, whether they know any frameworks, and what projects they’ve led that involve EA. All those things are obviously important to know.

There are various certification programs, particularly in The Open Group, that help with that. The TOGAF® Certification Program is focused on the TOGAF® framework. At the other end of the spectrum is the ITAC Program, which is a skills- and experience-based program that assesses by peer review an individual’s experience in EA.

There are those, there are others out there, and there are more coming. One of the great things we see is the general acceptance of certification as a means to telling the wood from the trees.

Gardner: So, we certainly have a need. We have some major trends that are requiring this role and we have the ability to begin certifying. Looking at this whole professionalism of EA, we also have these organizations. It was three years ago this very event that The AOGEA was officially launched. Maybe you could tell us what’s happened over the past three years and set the stage for what’s driving the momentum in the organization itself?

Nunn: Three years ago, we launched the association with 700 members. We were delighted to have that many at the start. As we sit here today, we have over 18,000 members. Over that period, we added members through more folks becoming certified through not only The Open Group programs, but with other programs. For example, we acknowledged the FIAC Certification Program as a valid path to full membership of the association.

We also embraced the Global Enterprise Architecture Organization (GEAO), and those folks, relevant to your earlier question, really have a particular business focus. We’ve also embraced the Microsoft Certified Architect individuals. Microsoft stopped its own program about a year ago now, and one of the things they encouraged their individuals who were certified to do was to join the association. In fact, Microsoft would help them pay to be members of the association, which was good.

So, it reflects the growth and membership reflects the interest in the area of EA and the interest in individuals’ wanting to advance their own careers through being part of a profession.

Valuable resource

Enterprise architects are a highly valuable resource inside an organization, and so we are both promoting that message to the outside world. For our members as individuals what we’re focusing on is delivering to them latest thinking in EA moving towards best practices, whitepapers, and trying to give them, at this stage, a largely virtual community in which to deal with each other.

Where we have turned it in to real community is through local chapters. We now have about 20 local chapters around the world. The members have formed those. They meet at varying intervals, but the idea is to get face time with each other and talk about issues that concern enterprise architects and the advancement of profession. It’s all good stuff. It’s growing by the week, by the month, in terms of the number of folks who want to do that. We’re very happy with what has gone in three years.

Gardner: We’ve got a little bit of alphabet soup out there. There are several organizations, several communities, that have evolved around them, but now you are working to bring that somewhat together.

As I alluded to earlier, the AOGEA has just announced its merger with the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA). What’s the difference now? How does that shape up? Is this simply a melding of the two or is there something more to it?

Nunn: Well, it is certainly a melding of the two. The two organizations actually became one in late fall last year, and obviously we have the usual post merger integration things to take care of.

But, I think it’s not just a melding. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We have two different communities. We have the AOGEA folks who have come primarily through certification route, and we also have the AEA folks who haven’t been so, so focused on certification, but they bring to the table something very important. They have chapters in different areas than the AOGEA folks by and large.

Also, they have a very high respected quarterly publication called The Journal of Enterprise Architecture, along the lines of an academic journal, but with a leaning towards practitioners as well. That’s published on a quarterly basis. The great thing is that that’s now a membership benefit to the merged association membership of over 18,000, rather than the subscribed base before the merger.

As we develop, we’re getting closer to our goal of being able to really promote the profession of EA in a coherent way. There are other groups beyond that, and there are the early signs of co- operation and working together to try to achieve one voice for the profession going forward.

Gardner: And this also followed about a year ago, the GOAO merger with the AOGEA. So, it seems as if we’re getting the definitive global organization with variability in terms of how it can deal with communities, but also that common central organizing principle. Tell me about this new über organization, what are you going to call it and what is the reach? How big is it going to be?

Nunn: Well, the first part of that is the easy part. We have consulted the membership multiple times now actually, and we are going to name the merged organization, The Association of Enterprise Architects. So that will keep things nice and simple and that will be the name going forward. It does encompass so far GEAO, AOGEA and AEA. It’s fair to say that, as a membership organization, it is the leading organization for enterprise architects.

Role to play

There are other organizations in the ecosystem who are, for example, advocacy groups, training organizations, or certification groups, and they all have a role to play in the profession. But, where we’re going with AEA in the future is to make that the definitive professional association for enterprise architects. It’s a non-profit 501(c)(6) incorporated organization, which is there to act as the professional body for its members.

Gardner: You have been with The Open Group for well over 15 years now. You’ve seen a lot of the evolution and maturity. Let’s get back to the notion of the enterprise architect as an entity. As you said, we have now had a process where we recognize the need. We’ve got major trends and dynamics in the marketplace. We have organizations that are out there helping to corral people and manage the whole notion of EA better.

What is it about the maturity? Where are we in a spectrum, on a scale of 1 to 10? What does that mean for where there is left go? This isn’t cooked yet. You can’t take it out of the oven quite yet.

Nunn: No, absolutely no. There’s a long way to go, and I think to measure it on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d like to say higher, but it’s probably about 2 right now. Just because a lot of things that need to be done to create profession are partly done by one group or another, but not done in a unified way or with anything like one voice for the profession.

It’s interesting. We did some research on how long we might expect to take to achieve the status of a profession. Certainly, in the US at least, the shortest period of time taken so far was 26 years by librarians, but typically it was closer to 100 years and, in fact, the longest was 170-odd years. So, we’re doing pretty well. We’re going pretty quickly compared to those organizations.

We’re trying to do it on a global basis, which to my knowledge is the first time that’s been done for any profession. If anything, that will obviously make things a little more complicated, but I think there is a lot of will in the EA world to make this happen, a lot of support from all sorts of groups. Press and analysts are keen to see it happen from the talks that we’ve had and the articles we’ve read. So, where there is a will there is a way. There’s a long way to go, but we’ve made good progress in a short numbers of years, really.

Gardner: So, there’s a great deal of opportunity coming up. We’ve talked about how this is relevant to the individual. This is something good for their career. They recognize a path where they can be beneficial, appreciated, and valued. But, what’s in it for the enterprise, for the organizations that are trying to run their businesses dealing with a lot of change already? What does a group like the AEA do for them?

Nunn: It’s down to giving them the confidence that the folks that they are hiring or the folks that they are developing to do EA work within their enterprise are qualified to do that, knowledgeable to do that, or on a path to becoming true professionals in EA.

Certainly if you were hiring into your organization an accountant or a lawyer, you’d be looking to hire one that was a member of the relevant professional body with the appropriate certifications. That’s really what we’re promoting for EA. That’s the role that the association can play.

Confidence building

When we achieve success with the association is when folks are hiring enterprise architects, they will only look at folks who are members of the association, because to do anything else would be like hiring an unqualified lawyer or accountant. It’s about risk minimization and confidence building in your staff.

Gardner: Now, you wear two hats. You’re the Chief Operating Officer at The Open Group and you’re the CEO of the AEA. How do these two groups relate? You’re in the best position to tell us what’s the relationship or the context that the listeners should appreciate in terms of how these shakeouts?

Nunn: That’s a good point. It’s something that I do get asked periodically. The fact is that the association, whilst a separately incorporated body, was started by The Open Group. With these things, somebody has to start them and The Open Group’s Membership was all you needed for this to happen. So, very much the association has its roots in The Open Group and today still it works very closely with The Open Group in terms of how it operates and certain infrastructure things for the association are provided by The Open Group.

The support is still there, but increasingly the association is becoming a separate body. I mentioned the journal that’s published in the association’s name that has its own websites, its own membership.

So, little by little, there will be more separation between the two, but the aims of the two or the interests of the two are both served by EA becoming recognized as profession. It just couldn’t have happened without The Open Group, and we intend to pay a lot of attention to what goes on inside The Open Group in EA. It’s one of the leading organizations in the EA space and a group that the association would be foolish not to pay attention to, in terms of the direction of certifications and what the members, who are enterprise architects, are saying, experiencing, and what they’re needing for the future.

Gardner: So, I suppose we should expect an ongoing partnership between them for quite some time.

Nunn: Absolutely. A very close partnership and along with partnerships with other groups. The association is not looking to take anyone’s turf or tread on anyone’s toes, but to partner with the other groups that are in the ecosystem. Because if we work together, we’ll get to this profession status a lot quicker, but certainly a key partner will be The Open Group.

Gardner: Well, very good. We have been looking at the current state of EA as profession, learning about the organizing groups around that effort and the certification process that they support. We’ve been talking with Steve Nunn, the Chief Operating Officer at The Open Group and also the CEO of the newly named Association of Enterprise Architects. Thank you so much, Steve.

Nunn: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast coming to you in conjunction with the Open Group Conference here in San Diego, the week of the February 7, 2011. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for joining, and come back next time.

Copyright The Open Group and Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.

Dana Gardner is the Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which identifies and interprets the trends in Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and enterprise software infrastructure markets. Interarbor Solutions creates in-depth Web content and distributes it via BriefingsDirectblogs, podcasts and video-podcasts to support conversational education about SOA, software infrastructure, Enterprise 2.0, and application development and deployment strategies.

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Enterprise Architecture’s Quest for its Identity

By Len Fehskens, The Open Group

It is my impression, from what I read and hear in many enterprise and business architecture blogs and forums, that the enterprise architecture community comprises multiple factions, and which faction you are part of depends on how you answer two questions. These are fundamental questions that I suspect many in the EA community (present company excepted, of course) have not asked themselves explicitly, or, if they have, considered why they would answer them one way or the other. I believe the answers to these questions color the way we talk and think about enterprise architecture, and until the EA community as a whole comes to a consensus regarding their answers, we risk talking past one another, using the same words but meaning significantly different things.

The two questions are:

  • Is enterprise architecture primarily about IT or is it about the entire enterprise?
  • Is enterprise architecture a “hard” discipline or a “soft” discipline?

My answers:

Enterprise architecture ought to be about the entire enterprise, because that’s what the name implies. If it’s really about IT, it ought to be called enterprise IT architecture. Whether or not you believe it’s possible or desirable to apply architectural thinking to the entire enterprise doesn’t change the fact that we ought to name things honestly. And when we name architectures, it seems reasonable to me to expect that if an architecture is implemented primarily in the <x> domain, it ought to be called an <x> architecture. Adding two more syllables (IT) to the seven (en-ter-prise ar-chi-tec-ture), or inserting two characters (IT) in the acronym (EA), isn’t an unbearable burden. Say it – “enterprise IT architecture.” Spell it – “EITA.”

Rarely has the cost of honesty been so modest. If you mean the architecture of an enterprise’s IT assets and capabilities, say EITA. Don’t say EA unless you really mean the architecture of the entire enterprise, not just its IT assets. Even if you consider the needs of the enterprise, or the structure of the enterprise’s processes, if the implementation of the architecture you’re developing will be mostly in the IT domain, it’s EITA, not EA. Even if you believe that architectural thinking can be meaningfully applied only to the IT function of an enterprise, it’s still EITA, not EA.

My answer to the second question is that I believe enterprise architecture, as scoped above, is a “soft” discipline. I think talking about “manufacturing” or “engineering” enterprises is just silly; it’s another example of the kind of aggrandizement that misnaming enterprise IT architecture represents.

Even calling an enterprise a “system” is risky. We use the word system in two senses. One is a very broadly inclusive idea, often expressed as “everything is a system,” in that many things can be viewed as assemblies or aggregates of smaller components. This concept of system is useful because it encourages us to take a holistic, rather than reductionist, perspective, acknowledging that the relationships between the pieces are as important as the individual pieces themselves. The other sense of “system” is the one engineers use – a system is an artifact that has been methodically designed and built from interconnected components. Calling something a system in the first sense doesn’t make it a system in the second sense; it doesn’t make its behavior and performance analytically tractable or deterministic.

It is simply not possible to specify an enterprise as completely, and to the same level of detail, as it is to specify a building or a locomotive or an airplane. And, for the purpose of enterprise architecture, i.e., to ensure that an enterprise’s assets and capabilities are aligned with its vision, mission and strategy, it isn’t necessary to do so, even if we could.

It may be possible to do so for EITA, and maybe that’s where the idea that the same can be said of the enterprise as a whole comes from.

If the enterprise as a whole is a system, it’s a people-intensive system, and as such one might as well talk about manufacturing or engineering people.

After all, why do we call them “enterprises”? Consider the first definition of the noun “enterprise” in the Oxford English Dictionary: “A design of which the execution is attempted; a piece of work taken in hand, an undertaking; chiefly, and now exclusively, a bold, arduous or momentous undertaking.” Clearly implicit in this definition is that this is something undertaken by people.  There’s a nod to this reality when we refer to an enterprise as a “sociotechnical system”, but the “socio” too often gets short shrift while the “technical” gets the bulk of the attention.

Yes, people play a role in other “systems” – they live and work in buildings, they drive locomotives and pilot airplanes. But people don’t just interact with an enterprise; in a fundamental sense, they are the enterprise. And unlike buildings and locomotives and airplanes, enterprises are continually adapting themselves, in the homeostatic sense of maintaining their integrity and identity in the face of internal and external change, and in the sense of deliberately repurposing themselves in response to such change.

How would you answer these questions, and why would you answer them that way? Our answers strongly influence what we believe is within the purview of enterprise architecture, how we address that scope, and what we imagine we can accomplish by doing so.

Len Fehskens is Vice President of Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group. He is responsible for The Open Group’s activities relating to the professionalization of the discipline of enterprise architecture. Prior to joining The Open Group, Len led the Worldwide Architecture Profession Office for HP Services at Hewlett-Packard. Len is based in the US.

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