What is all the fuss about the title Architect?An architect is a person who translates the user's needs into the technical requirements, so an architect sits on both sides of the fence – the demand side and the supply side. Being the central pivotal point he is by far the most crucial and valuable person of any solution or project. Therefore being an architect is very prestigious and an unrealized dream of lots of engineers, project managers and marketing people.
But I thought that the title Architect is regulated?Sadly it is not. Unlike in the construction business, the IT industry is completely wild and there is no restriction to call yourself Grand Principal Enterprise Architect. In the construction business the title Architect has legal protection and it is against the law for people who are not registered to use the title Architect. (see the UK Architects Act 1997 - http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1997/97022--f.htm)
If the title is protected, how can then be used in the IT industry?Well, it is protected in the building design context. The ARB (Architects Registration Board) sais on their website: “The Board is aware of widespread use within the computer and IT industry of the word “architect” being incorporated into certain job descriptions, eg. “Systems Architect” or “Software Architect”. ... “The Board therefore takes a pragmatic view, and accepts that the use of the word “architect” causes no concern when used in a context which is clearly not related to the design and construction of buildings.” (http://www.arb.org.uk/regulation/regulation-of-title.shtml)
OK, what does that mean, in plain words?It means that ARB (or other similar organizations) regulate Architects in the construction industry only. Outside that they let others to regulate it – or let it grow wild. They couldn’t care less if it grows wild. And in IT industry it did grow wild. Very wild. Just about anybody and everybody can claim the title. As WWISA puts it nicely: “In software construction, many borrow the gravitas of the title, but fail to fulfil the role” (http://www.wwisa.org/wwisamain/role.htm)
Is it really so bad if I call myself the GrandMaster Architect?Yes it is. It is especially bad for the profession of IT architecture as it tries to define itself and find its role in the IT lifecycle. What the IT Architecture as a profession needs most is clarity, perception and recognition. Clarity of role will allow sifting the grain from the chaff and limit the proliferation of I_call_myself_whatever_I_want cowboys. With better clarity the perception of what is expected from IT architects will improve. And with better perception we’ll get better recognition as well.
But how can Microsoft be the body that will register and certify IT architects?Well, in lack of any other independent board, society or chamber, Microsoft decided to lead the way in the IT architecture space. And it is not universal certification for architects; that’s why the title is called MCA – the Microsoft Certified Architect programme. It requires from the candidates the knowledge of much more than just Microsoft stack of technologies and strives to be technology-agnostic.
So what can I expect from the person who carries the title of Microsoft Certified Architect?You can expect a person who has well-rounded tactical and strategic view of the industry, who can offer reliable advisory services and whos opinion is balanced, justified, substantiated and without marketing hype. MCA people have many battle scars and enough experience to fill the whole evening with anecdotes of both wonderful and horrendous projects.