Archive for August, 2010

The End of Zachman

If Charles Babbage is the father of computing and Grace Hopper the mother of applications programming then surely John A. Zachman is the father of enterprise architecture.  Indeed, you can barely find a credible architecture book that doesn’t pay homage to the Zachman framework. You may you love it or hate it or may have just grown to accept it, but you can’t deny its significance, it is perhaps the single most significant EA artefact ever created.  And it may just be that when we look back in the fullness of time we will have to agree, that despite all its frustrations and ambiguities it is indeed the periodic table of information systems planning that John so often claimed.

I have had the pleasure of meeting John once and was more than a little entertained by tales and enthusiasm and I can only say how sad I am that it has come to this.

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Certifications and Conflicts of Interest

I have to declare my position. It’s not often that Microsoft does something I actually approve of, but I was very please to read recently that Microsoft are getting out of the architectural certification game. It seems that they are handing it over to IASA ( a body of architects for architects. Well done I say!

Call me cynical but, I’ve always had a irritating suspicion that vendor provided certifications were at best marketing strategies run for the vendors’ benefit or at worst clumsy attempts to brain wash the technical community. While vendor certification for their products does on the face of it seem to be a good idea. I have always had problems with vendor driven architectural certification.  After all I maintain that good architecture is technology agnostic.

My observation is that most corporate education these days seems to have devolved into mouse driving exercises delivered by specialist trainers who do no more than follow the script. Testing the knowledge boundaries of these  “instructors”  used to be one of my favorite pass times. But having recently spent three days locked in a room with a woman who read slide after slide to me for hours on end I can tell you that I’m well and truly over that as well. Exactly when did teaching become piece work?  But, hey I’m probably certified on that product; they gave me a piece of paper,  now if I could only remember its name?

Vendor certifications are not the only certifications that make me raise an eyebrow. Let’s face it the purpose of certification is to establish the certified’s credibility.  Certifications that can be gained by attending a few classes; particularly ones you pay for, are suspect. That’s like learning to drive by correspondence, fine until you get into the traffic!  I mean really, call center dude one day enterprise architect the next. Thank god we’re not in medicine.

Then there are the internal corporate certifications. The problem with these schemes is that they are subject to corrupting pressures like directives to certify so many architects in a given time. Certification is reduced to a rubber stamping  and rigor abandoned in pursuit of a KPI! Can you imagine accountants doing that? The self appointed wise sit around and certify each other! It’s all just a little bit too cozy to be credible.  One such scheme was described to me; by someone who would know, as “not so much a certification process as an exercise in creative writing.”  Beautifully put I thought.

It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario in which the educationally unskilled and inappropriately experienced certify their mates to meet a KPI.  What’s worse is that some organizations then accept this certification as sufficient authority to automatically impart their own certification on the  same sorry candidate! You’d think people would be more careful with their brands these days.

In a world that increasingly confuses appearance with substance and where the truth has become negotiable, as architects we must be on our guard against such nonsense. All I can say is that Microsoft’s decision is a step in the right direction. “Good on you Microsoft” … never thought I’d say that.

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