architecture certification SOA

SOA Certified Architect: Module 1 – Fundamental SOA & Service-Oriented Computing

Fundamental SOA and Service Oriented Computing.

In the past few weeks I’ve been studying hard in order to take my first SOA Certification exam.

The certification programme that I have chosen to study is from Thomas Erl’s SOASchool and is (to me) undoubtedly the best in the industry. I say that for a number of reasons…

  1. It’s totally independent and completely vendor-neutral (as all good SOA should be).
  2. The content is thorough, proven and impeccably researched.
  3. It’s practical and based on cutting edge policy’s and best practices.

Of course, I understand that certification is not for everyone, but in my case I felt that because SOA is surrounded by so many myths, legends and falsehoods, it probably makes sense for me to add a quality mark to my work so that clients can be confident that the challenges I often encourage them to tackle are based on a well thought out combination of very thorough research and hard-earned experience.

The full certification programme will take me many months to complete. It consists of 5 course modules each consisting of home study presentation booklets backed up by audio CD’s, books (recommended but available separately) and sample exam-like question cards.

The course content is very thorough and of a high quality. All the major SOA topics are presented well and cross-reference throughout (so you get a good impression of just how interconnected all the topics are and how well thought out the whole certification programme actually is).

This first module and associated exam covers the fundamental topics of service-orientation at a high level. It covers the origins of SOA, strategic benefits, SOA terminology, adoption impacts, technology choices, industry maturity, design approaches and project delivery options.

The exam itself is administered by Prometric, takes about an hour to complete and is surprisingly taxing. 80% of the answers need to be correct to achieve the required pass rate.


Overall I found the whole experience worthwhile and very enjoyable. I achieved a very good grade and already I feel much better equipped for future boardroom discussions even though I’ve only completed one module. In that sense, the course has probably paid for itself already.

It’s fair to say that the process wasn’t totally without fault. One of the audio CD’s didn’t work and had to be replaced, and Prometric allowed me to book an exam at a testing centre which wasn’t actually open on the day of the test.

Thankfully, the problems I did have were rectified very quickly and to my complete satisfaction. They did add some time delays into the whole process though, and it probably took me around 2-3 weeks longer than it should have done to complete the module. Luckily I wasn’t in any rush, but others may have found this aspect a tiny bit frustrating.

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)