Regular readers will already be aware that I’m working towards becoming a SOA Certified Architect with the independent SOASchool.com. This training and certification body is chaired by a group of independent industry experts led by Thomas Erl the leading author on service-orientation.
I chose this certification programme precisely because it’s independent and vendor neutral. Vendor diversification options and greater implementation choices are one of the major advantages that SOA has over other architectural models, so it seemed to me that there would be little point taking an IBM, Microsoft, SAP or Oracle certification.
The standards that bind SOA together are not owned by any one vendor, but by standards bodies like the W3C, OASIS, and WS-I. Therefore, at best a vendor will only ever have their own proprietary view of how to implement these standards in their current software stack. It’s this implementation specific view that can creep into their certification programmes and therefore limit your future options and depth of general understanding (in my opinion).
This second module ‘SOA Technology Concepts’ covers a very broad overview of all the relevant technology and implementation concepts for service-oriented architectures including…
- SOA Implementation Technologies (Components, REST, SOAP, WSDL, XSD, XML, UDDI, WS-Policy).
- Standards and standards bodies.
- QoS Standards (WS-Coordination, WS-AtomicTransaction, WS-BusinessActivity, WS-Addressing, WS-ReliableMessaging, WS-Security).
- Orchestration Standards (WS-BPEL)
It also covers the details behind some of the terminology used throughout the course like ‘Service Activities’ and ‘Service Roles’.
As ever the course content was clear and concise, and if you follow the instructions in the course module booklet you should have no problem in passing the associated exam. The vendor independence is very apparent, with no specific preferences one way or another in either the course booklets or the associated printed textbooks. This is great, because it’s not anti-vendor, but it does help you to understand that in SOA the technology revolves around the standards and that for the first time this creates a level playing field for everyone to compete on.
The exams themselves are pretty tough; 50 questions lasting an hour with a fairly high 80% ‘standard’ pass rate (even higher still if you require an honours grade as I do). After the exam it would be really nice to know which questions you got wrong so you could learn from your mistakes, but this isn’t an option. In my case I suspect that my wider implementation experience inclined me to give more optimistic answers than required to one or two of the questions which just prevented me from a perfect score. Ho hum.
The customer experience from Prometric is still only average. For this exam I had to travel twice as far to find a test centre because my local one had decided to shut down their exams and assessments for most of the summer while they relocate to a new office. Bizarre. Still, the exam itself was complementary, as compensation for the confusion over my first attempted exam a couple of months ago (where the test centre had closed but failed to inform every candidate). Prometric’s customer services are very good, it’s just the availability of test centres and the on-line administration system that are lacking.
Overall it’s been another thoroughly enjoyable experience. On to the next one…
Other blog entries in this series…
SOA Certified Architect Module 1 - Fundamentals
SOA Certified Architect Module 2 - Technologies & Concepts
SOA Certified Architect Module 3 – Design & Architecture
SOA Certified Architect Module 8 – Advanced Design & Architecture
SOA Certified Architect Module 9 – Advanced Design & Architecture Practical (Lab)