[Someone asked me to recommend resources and information for professionals seeking progressive competency in architecture (context: technology). I decided to post the reply I gave them as I think this is likely information that will be helpful to many.- ed.]
I would have to say that it depends upon the focus of the effort; architecture is comprised of four distinct disciplines which, taken together, are intended to steer the technology vision of an entire organization from an enterprise perspective:
(1) Business Architecture – the focus is upon enterprise level process management; leverage of technology to effect increases in productivity, efficiency, time to market, and effective internal knowledge and information management.
(2) Enterprise Architecture – the focus is upon enterprise level technology implementation management; service oriented architecture, master data management, and related granularity into “deep technology” exist here. The goals are generally around concepts of consolidation, improved data mining, management, and sharing, along with related intelligence efforts intended to both quickly identify and rapidly assimilate insight delivered by it into the organization.
(3) Software Architecture – the focus is upon business specific (or department specific, though most instances find the architect working across several areas with similar interests/needs) technology development, usually devoted to particular goals operating in parallel with the larger enterprise or business architecture movement. (This is the type most companies and I.T. groups recognize and staff.)
(4) Information Architecture (aka Data Architecture) – the focus is upon structural management and organization of data, usually with an eye toward reuse and finding new methods to recycle data for each area of a business (or to turn it into new revenue streams, offerings, etc). This area generally includes both library science (i.e., knowledge management) as well as business semantics and is not usually acknowledged or embraced as its own discipline.
Most companies are still making the mistake of trying to staff architects as “generalists” who can perform all the above roles; usually making the mistake of placing database, software, or network developers into the role with the belief that their understanding of “deep technology” is sufficient to serve all areas of need. However, as groups like Forrester and Gartner (and others) continue to demonstrate, this is to miss the majority of benefit that architecture as a competency can (should) provide.
To the extent that only the most consistently mature and innovation focused companies are beginning to contemplate the reality of the above information, I suppose the savvy career seeker should focus on #3, but work to develop proficiencies in all of the above to increase their overall attractiveness.
This said, for today’s architect seeking excellence, I would recommend study and consider certification in the following:
(1) Business Analysis
IIBA certifications are now available for junior level competency, but the CBAP is the premier certification for the field of analysis. The IIBA is online at: http://www.theiiba.org/. In so far as reading and certification preparation goes, I strongly recommend, “All In One CBAP” by Joseph Phillips”; published by McGraw Hill under the auspices of LearnKey – http://www.amazon.com/Certified-Business-Analysis-Professional-Guide/dp/0071626697).
(2) Enterprise Architecture
The Federated Enterprise Architecture Certification is the gold standard for the industry with over 1000 professionals and substantially solid reputation for technology and industry success. Their study guide of preference is, of course, their own, “FEAC Certified Enterprise Architect CEA Study Guide“, also published by McGraw Hill – http://www.mhprofessional.com/product.php?isbn=0071756132).
(3) Software Architecture
The Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University offers a fairly reputable professional certification, althrough the FEAC is likely more widely accepted for “proof” of competency. For specialized competency, however, it is widely and well accepted. Their home is located at: http://www.sei.cmu.edu/training/certificates/architecture/ and the study guide I recommend (as no one guide is recommended by the SEI at this time) is, “Software Architecture in Practice” – http://www.amazon.com/Software-Architecture-Practice-Len-Bass/dp/0201199300) .
(4) Information Architecture
The certifying authority for this competency is The Information Architecture Institute, found online at: http://iainstitute.org/. There is no one preferred guide here, as the field is still somewhat fractured; rapid developments of online technology have largely bypassed the more academic process of distilling research into readily usable information. However, for a solid grounding in the foundational concepts, you can do no better than the work of John F. Sowa. His seminal works on conceptual structures and knowledge representation are fundamentals for this area of focus: http://www.amazon.com/Conceptual-Structures-Information-Processing-Programming/dp/0201144727 and http://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Representation-Philosophical-Computational-Foundations/dp/0534949657, respectively).