Donovan Johnson

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since May 13, 2010
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Recent posts by Donovan Johnson

In the case where there is only one person in class, no it would not be much different unless you had a fantastic instructor who has worked in a role and industry with which you will be working. Then it still may be worth the money. In most cases though, the risk reward is as you said, better spent on books and creating architectures.
Here is the issue:
The cost of the course when compared with the likelihood of being able to implement the skills right away in the work environment makes it mutually exclusive for most people. Many of us do not have the access to Enterprise-level Software Architects to become mentors so we explore routes such as this. Upon seeing how expensive this route is and that there is simply NO guarantee that it will contribute you obtaining the certification, it becomes a pie-in-the-sky activity and as such, we place it on the back-burner. In the mean time, an opportunity presents itself for us to become an application or technical solution architect. It is here where we should be revisiting the idea, but realistically, it can also be one of the busiest times in your professional career, so again it becomes no realistic to pursue. So the interest wains, and EVENTUALLY experience fills in the gap and it becomes unnecessary.

NOW, if you are fortunate to work for a firm like IBM that has a complete career track for Architects starting at a foundational level, this can still make sense as it will present an opportunity to accelerate your knowledge in more design centric areas, fusing that with Zachman and TOGAF Enterprise Architecture frameworks, and the general "CITA-P type" business process, relationship management, systems engineering and presentation skills that will make you a complete Enterprise level architect in waiting.

The method that you are taking is still a great path for a career to transition from Developer, through Application/Software Architect up to Enterprise Architect level. What you have to determine is how much time and money you want to put into this. I am a firm believer in the material the course touts as being covered, but not having taking the course myself, I cannot speak to how much it should or shouldn't help. Be aware, that most Architects with less than 10 years of experience are Technical Solution Archtiects [think SharePoint Architects] where they model the proposed configuration, test it, guide the deployment team, and design and oversee some custom development of a few components or web apps. You typically will not get an opportunity to develop an application from the ground up and this is a good thing.

You'll want to focus your skills on working to develop some Cloud Applications and what not [I am going to fuse my OCMJEA training with my IBM Cloud Infrastructure Architect and VCP certs to do exactly the same -- whenever I complete them ;-) ]. From there, be sure to learn as much about SOA & BPM and Java implementations there of. Finally, pick two industries to focus on and incorporate into your practice. Learn as much as you can about them and where their productivity issues lie. This will give you some leverage. From there, it will be easier to get near the top of the food chain quickly -- just be careful to be diligent about your craft or you will fall off just as quicly.
Well that is kind of what I was eluding to. The big knock against CompTIA was that there credentials were pretty cookie cutter, and since most were originally intended to be entry level, vendor-neutral certifications, this was seen as fine. The problem was that if they were to have been vendor-neutral, they should have lined up with some sort of standard that that was truly universal. Without that, it gave an evaluator an poor idea about the certificate holder's basic skills in this area. Many manager's complained that CompTIA presented certificate holders with results that were untrustworthy. Until recently.

I can tell you that now, both are tests [Project+ and the PMP]are based on the PMBOK. Nearly everyone making Project+ training material are selling it as a good stepping stone for the PMP. Additionally, I don't think that a Project+ by itself will doing anything for you, but accompanied by SCSA, MCSE, or an SCEA and suddenly, this becomes a potential separator between you and the competition to get hired and maybe even being given a PM or Application Architect role on a smaller project. And that's the goal right?
Essentially, People sometimes focus on a credential as a means of obtaining prestige or opportunity, rather than build a career narrative that progresses like a pyramid.

What does that mean? An individual goes for the crowning achievement when there's no prerequisite requirement. But in focusing on the crown, they miss the options that are afford those who have the entry and middle tier certs/designations. I am arguing that a SCEA and Project+ candidate will beat an SCEA only
candidate, all other things being equal. PMP would obviously be more desirable, but sometimes it is not a viable option for the near future.

Having no project management credential means that you have to site a verifiable instance of managing a project. When dealing with an external hiring manager or hope that an internal opportunity presents itself. Conversely, if you at least have Project+, you increase the chance that someone will take the chance that you have the basic skills to get the job done. If you're daunted by the initial cost or on-going fees of PMP, Project+ could provide a alternative to no credential at all.
All and all, you could think of the Project+ as a warm up to the PMP, with the added benefit of opening a door or two now, instead of waiting for the experience.
If you can afford it, both. If not SCEA and Project+.

I know. But they have revamped it, and Hiring Managers are starting to respect the CompTIA brand. Not to mention, some of the revamps [nearly all the prominent CompTIA exams -- including Project+ -- have been revamped over the last 18 months] are showing real progress. Example, Security+ now has 6 of the 10 domains included in the CISSP. And btw, Sec+ and CEH are now required by the Federal Government.

Billy Tsai wrote:So if one wants to become either a solution or an application architect then SCEA+over 10 years professional experience+bachelor degree are enough?
and if one wants to become an enterprise or a chief architect then SCEA+TOGAF+Zachman+over 10 years professional experience+master(or PhD) degree ?

Pretty much. You can get a solution or application architect role with 5-7 years experience in some causes, but that is usually on .NET, not Java. If you pick up another key, new skillset, alot of times you can get in with under 10 years experience now. You will need to show serious leadership and coding capabilities though. And these positions are not common.

Safest Approach: Solution/Application Architect> CIW database specialist [or Oracle], CBAP, OCEB, SCDJWS, SOA, SCEA+TOGAF+Zachman, Project+ or PMP. No one hires you? Start your own IT Consulting firm. You're an SA!

Life will be decent.
Dashboards, but a SCEA for dashboard development is Overkill, unless you want to integrate dashboard objects into other web applications --- mashups if you will. If you find a firm that has that need or desire, they may love you.
Good Job!

leonardo segala wrote:Hi guys!!!

I passed today in SCEA 5 certification with 81% score. I used Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for Java™ EE Study Guide Second Edition, wich I buy the PDF as Tan Wee and epractize simulator. The book is very good, but is not enough. Reading the java ee patterns and the java ee tutorial is good to have a larger basement for the exam. I not have a larger knowledge in web services and jnlp/applets, but the material is suficient. The simulator is good too, but if you want a high score, buy the test-inside simulator. I hava access for a few questions and what is there, it's proof. The most questions I found it easy, but I fall in craps.

Thank's for everyone guys!!!

Leonardo Segala

I think the question was centered around achieving the certification and first architect role. I would say that anyone who has achieved 5-7 years IT experience in both a infrastructure systems support role as well as development, has a bit more additional business experience [or worked as a Business Analysis] and can demonstrate design and BPM capabilities can become an architect.

Obviously anyone can become certified as an Architect whether it be an SCEA or Zachman Certified, it makes no difference. All that indicates is that you have the basic knowledge and possible skillset. This will potentially qualify you to approach a future employer about becoming a Solution Architect or Application Architect but usually no more, depending upon whether or not you have more of a systems background or a development background. Commonly, you will find SharePoint Architects at this tier. You're not quite in a realm where I would think you could use the term Software Architect confidently, as you would need to demonstrate that your design, leadership and development activity as delivered to market a viable executable package that is commonly run by serveral clients. This IASA's domain [International Association of Software Architects ---], though their certification process is geared much more toward a true Enterprise Architecture, complete with balancing Business Architecture and Technical Architecture. Software Architects doing a better job on delivering the entire package of a true, full-breasted Enterprise Architect's skill-sets?? Go figure. Does any of this equip you to become an Enterprise Architect? Not by itself.

This is the area where having 10-15 years of experience, deep development time and a PhD would normally apply, so it is not likely. Why is this the case? Because you are tasked with designing the framework for and leading the development and/or deployment of every system in your domain, which can be the entire enterprise in many an instance. Think of this group of individuals as being Lt. Col responsible for leading special operations units and battalions [300–1000] that have just been promoted to full bird Colonels now responsible for entire brigades [2000–5000]. That is up to 5x's the number of people that his/her decisions affect, and that doesn't even include operational effectiveness as well as other ancillary fallout. So plans have to be meticulous and well-designed in order to extract instructions that can be delivered down the food chain for systems personnel and programmers at the bottom to execute on them in a fashion that delivers value for the business with minimal hiccups. You have to have proverbial "eyes in the back of your head" to do this kind of work as you tend to be the CIO's arms, legs and heart. Think a certification alone will do this? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

To be sure, the SCEA is still one of the most admirable credentials to have in the industry bar none. But it only develops Software Architects, largely from a design stand point. Fortunately for you, you have done the prudent thing of completing the SCJA, and SCJP, laying the groundwork for being a proper Software Engineer and Developer. I would say, complete the skills development by getting the SCEA, and volunteer for any projects that you can at the office, in addition to joining an Open Source project or two. From there, I would look at CCDA {Cisco Design Associate}, SCSA [SNIA Storage Architect --], ITIL foundations, CBAP to develop your Business Analysis skills, OCEB for Business Process Modeling {essentially a more in depth extension of CBAP, focused almost solely on the modeling}, SOA -- ok redundant, but just make sure you stay up to date on it, PMP or Prince2 [if you get in a in pinch, it sounds bush, but pick up the Project+ to show SOME kind of project management training], Six Sigma [be sure to learn Business Modeling in Excel -- it will save your life, especially if you have BI projects in a Financial Services firm. pm me if you need a book], TOGAF or Zachman for Enterprise Architecture understanding and finally CTIA from IASA does a good job of bridging the Business Architect side with Technical Architect side, as previously mentioned. Oh, and just for SnG, you probably want to complete an MBA as well as this is slowly starting to become en vogue for Enterprise Architects.... just make sure your doing this WHILE you remain or progress up the food chain in similar roles. Sounds like a lot? Maybe, but it will not be as cumbersome as you think, considering many of the topics covered in these programs are things you already do, you will just be obtaining the knowledge behind why you do them.

Just remember, if you want to be an Enterprise Architect, it is about the Business, not the program, which means you have to know how every group of systems can be effectively leveraged [both cost and performance]. This is more than just the last application you delivered, so it means more than just leading developers. If that is all you want to do, finish the SCEA, learn about databases and just keep coding. An opportunity will come open. There's nothing wrong with stopping at Software Architect --- in fact, you just may want to consider it heavily.
Bottom-line is, find away to get some experience, even if it isn't a super complex project. My strategy is going to be volunteer with a company like Groundworks IT or TECHCORPS to help implement a solution for a visible non-profit firm or foundation. Do this two or three times, following the freelancing ideas [, etc] mentioned in earlier posts after that. Then apply as Sr. Software Engineer or Lead Developer, but at an only slightly reduced salary -- as you now have some experience, particularly in a leadership position. From that point, your are poised to be in a legitimate Application Architect role inside of 5-6 years, start to finish -- possibly less. If you grab you PMP and CITA [from IASA which I think is more relevant for SCEAs] or TOGAF, it should be even easier.

The core difference for me will be I am ditching the PMP for a Six Sigma Black Belt, keeping the CITA and anding an MBA -- when the time comes

I am an Aspiring Financial Engineer and besides honing off the charts math skills, designing and coding becomes really important. While there are a number of languages that are commonly used besides java, the information that I have been provided is that java and C# are the most likely to allow for easiest transition back and forth. In addition, I am looking to blend my current skillset into that of a BI Architect, ultimately Enterprise Architect before I actually transition over to Financial Engineering [figuring that using, testing, building and design analytics and data mining apps will build up my understanding of what is necessary to effectively extract economic, financial and behavioral data from data warehouses -- helping me to write better code]. And since it will take several years before I complete the studies that will allow for to build trading strategies from scratch anyways, I figure why not build the skills now [Beside the fact that most financial firms have an infrastructure of Wintel, UNIX, and Java woven together] ?

So my question to you is, starting from scratch, what is the best method to prepare to become a completely competent SCEA. I am not concerned with career/role hoping aspect of this as it is role change and pay increase is not my primary goal [Although I am interested in developing Blackberry apps on the side, but not a main focus]. More, I simply want to be able to take a application concept from start to finish; deploying/potentially deploying it in a well designed, highly robust, yet efficient manner that can take a pounding from thousands of users if need be.

Boot camps, books, training material are all welcome, but it has to be some thing solid -- no hello world apps. Seriously, I work better by reconstructing the complex into individual components and then putting it back together rather than just starting at the bottom. Any suggestions?