Back in 2005, Microsoft was one of the first companies or organizations to introduce a software architecture certification — in this case, the Microsoft Certified Architect or MCA. With a resurgence of vendor-neutral architect credentials like those from The Open Group and the International Association of Software Architects (IASA), Microsoft recently announced it would discontinue its own vendor-neutral certs in this area. Instead, the company plans to provide financial and other support to both of those organizations to foster continued growth and coverage for increased professionalism in software arhchitecture out of house, and to focus exclusively on MCA offerings related to specific Microsoft technologies in-house.
To that end, the former head and originator of the MCA program within Microsoft, Andy Ruth, has left that company to go to work for IASA as its VP of Education. Ruth’s charter is to create career roadmaps and tools to help the group’s 60,000-plus members worldwide. He’s also working to define and implement an entire career path’s worth of software architecture credentials for that organization. Microsoft is also providing some funding for, and is working with both IASA and The Open Group to ensure that they continue to define and develop more vendor neutral IT architect credentials. The Open Group’s IT Architect Certification, like the IASA’s emerging IT Architecture certification program, both target the cultivation and professional development of software architects within a vendor-agnostic, if not vendor-neutral framework.
This approach is very much in keeping with other technical areas in IT, where professionals must often acquire both vendor-neutral and -specific credentials to demonstrate skills, knowledge and competence. In such situations, vendor-neutral coverage assures proper understanding of general skills and best practices in the overall field, complemented by vendor-specific skills and knowledge with particular frameworks, toolsets, and development or project management environments. IT professionals interested in software architecture will want to dig further into the offerings from The Open Group and IASA, particularly those individuals interested in or just starting down this career path.