Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a business-centric IT architectural approach that supports integrating your business as linked, repeatable business tasks or services.
SOA helps users build composite applications (those that draw upon functionality from multiple sources within and beyond the enterprise to support horizontal business processes).
Implementing SOA and aligning IT with your business goals enables you to achieve business flexibility by quickly adapting to changing conditions and requirements, and it allows maximum reuse of IT assets.
To help you get started with SOA, IBM offers business-centric and IT-centric SOA entry points.
You can begin with the fundamental assets of your enterprise: people, information and processes. Or you can lay the technical groundwork for integration by leveraging the entry points of connectivity and reuse.
Regardless of where you start, IBM SOA entry points can help your business pursue SOA at a pace that suits your needs.
- People: Enables efficiency through interaction and collaboration.
- Process: Offers tools and services to help streamline business process management.
- Information: Enables access to complex, heterogeneous data sources.
- Connectivity: Links people, processes and information for your business.
- Reuse: Extends the value of your previous asset investments.
The SOA life cycle includes four stages: model, assemble, deploy and manage. Underpinning all these life cycle stages are governance and processes that provide guidance and oversight for the SOA project.
IBM’s SOA Certification
Given the importance of SOA to both business and IT professionals, as well as the critical skills required to implement SOA, it practically demands professional certification. IBM has two types of certifications for SOA.
The first type validates SOA-specific skills. There are two such certifications available: IBM Certified SOA Associate and IBM Certified SOA Solution Designer.
The second type of certification combines these SOA-specific tests with IBM Software Group product tests to create higher-level roles. These certifications validate candidates’ knowledge of SOA and their ability to implement SOA with IBM products. There is one such certification available: IBM Certified Administrator for SOA Solutions – WebSphere Process Server v6.0.
IBM Certified SOA Associate
This certification is designed to validate candidates’ ability to articulate the business and technical value of SOA — they can describe an organization’s business structure at a high level and identify where in that line of business SOA can provide value. They also can identify barriers to SOA adoption, help bridge the gap between technical and business teams and identify an organization’s possible entry points into SOA.
The candidates understand the need for SOA governance.
Testing at an entry-skill level, this certification is intended for individuals who work on SOA projects, such as architects, salespeople, administrators, application developers, business analysts, project managers, system integrators, business integrators and managers.
In collaboration with others, this person:
- Assists in communication between technical and business personnel.
- Describes how SOA affects the various job roles within an organization.
- Raises awareness in others about SOA.
- Articulates the value of an SOA solution in the context of the business strategy.
- Explains the need for SOA governance.
- Assists in the development of a road map for SOA adoption.
This certification is achieved by successfully passing IBM certification Test 664: SOA Fundamentals. This test is designed to measure skills in the following areas:
- The value of SOA: 13 percent
- SOA concepts: 24 percent
- Basic SOA architecture: 22 percent
- SOA management: 19 percent
- Preparing for SOA: 22 percent
(The percentages reflect the approximate distribution of the total question set across the test sections.)
IBM Certified SOA Solution Designer
This certification is designed to validate candidates’ ability to assess and translate client requirements for business process flexibility and agility into a service-focused software solution using SOA principles.
Testing at an intermediate skill level, this certification is intended for consultants and architects with experience designing enterprise application components and enterprise business integration solutions and who are now a part of SOA project teams responsible for developing the end-to-end design of an SOA solution.
In collaboration with the senior SOA project architect, the SOA Solution Designer:
- Articulates the value of SOA solutions in the context of the business strategy.
- Gathers and evaluates customer business requirements, identifying and documenting processes and infrastructure related to the business requirements.
- Assesses the client’s readiness for SOA organizationally and technically.
- Defines an appropriate road map for SOA adoption and governance.
- Determines services and tasks based on the business process model.
- Establishes service definitions that satisfy both functional and nonfunctional requirements.
- Develops the service-integration environment and incorporates IBM SOA foundation and reference architectures.
- Articulates architectural/design decisions.
- Applies existing best practices and technology standards for SOA and services design in the solution implementation.
- Provides guidance and review for SOA implementation, deployment and management.
This certification is achieved by passing IBM certification Test 665: Architectural Design of SOA Solutions. This test is designed to measure skills in the following areas:
- Knowledge of applied SOA: 15 percent
- SOA assessment and analysis: 22 percent
- SOA design: 39 percent
- SOA implementation: 14 percent
- SOA deployment and management: 10 percent
IBM Certified Administrator for SOA Solutions:
WebSphere Process Server v6.0
This certification is designed to validate candidates’ ability to work in a team that deploys SOA solution implementations to WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Process Server runtime environments and advise teams on appropriate configurations that could maximize performance, scalability and availability of the services.
Testing at an intermediate level, this certification is intended for system administrators who perform the installation, configuration and day-to-day tasks associated with ensuring the smooth and efficient operation of the WebSphere Process Server runtime environment.
This includes product installation, configuration and deployment of business processes and adapters, connecting to back-end resources and basic troubleshooting. These individuals tune the WebSphere Process Server runtime environment with respect to resource use, scaling, clustering and load balancing as appropriate.
These certified professionals also have a good grasp on fundamentals of SOA, and they can articulate SOA’s business and technical values, identify the barriers to adopting SOA in their organization, participate in crafting and enforcing SOA governance and help bridge the gap between business and technical teams.
This certification is achieved by passing the following three IBM certification tests:
Test 252: IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment v6.0 Core Administration or Test 253: IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment v6.1 Core Administration
- Test 664: SOA Fundamentals
- Test 093: IBM WebSphere Process Server 6.0 System Administration
Test 252 is designed to measure skills in the following areas:
- Architecture: 11 percent
- Installation/configuration of application server: 13 percent
- Application assembly and deployment and server resource configuration: 11 percent
- Security: 11 percent
- Workload management/scalability: 13 percent
- Maintenance and performance tuning: 19 percent
- Problem-determination applications: 15 percent
- Systems administration tasks (covers one time administrative tasks): 7 percent
Test 253 is designed to measure skills in the following areas:
- Architecture: 17 percent
- Installation/configuration of application server: 13 percent
- Application assembly and deployment: 17 percent
- WebSphere security: 11 percent
- Workload management/scalability: 11 percent
- Maintenance and performance tuning: 18 percent
- Problem determination: 13 percent
Test 664 is designed to measure skills outlined above.
Test 093 is designed to measure the skills in the following areas:
- Architecture: 14 percent
- Installation/configuration of process server: 26 percent
- Application deployment and server resource
configuration: 16 percent
- Security: 12 percent
- Maintenance and performance tuning: 10 percent
- Problem-determination applications: 22 percent
Other information about the professional certification program from IBM is available at www.ibm.com/certify.
Jeff Mitchell and Hamid Karbasi are curriculum architects for WebSphere Education. Helene Untch is a certification program manager for WebSphere, SOA and XML. They can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.