I’m a lucky attendant of “IT Architect Regional Conference” held in New York City from October 12-14. I signed up for the conference mainly because of the impressive line-up of speakers, many of which I admire professionally, and I also wanted to learn more about IASA, its president, its mission and other people behind it.
This was my first time being in Manhattan, New York. Some quick observations and impressions: it’s big, it’s insanely busy, seems like half of the traffic are cabs and people always try to cross streets on the red light. Being from Vancouver, the last point feels especially foreign. Oh yes, and on my first day walking to a conference, I saw a celebrity: Elizabeth Hurley.
The opening ceremony was started by Timothy Leonard who joined IASA less than an year ago as a president. He explained that he came on board with the sole purpose of adding more clarity to IASA’s mission and to grow the organization. The growth would be quantitative and qualitative. Members would now see the clear benefits of joying the association: body of knowledge, white papers, variety of on-line courses, certification and accreditation. Tim then invited VP of Education to expand on the last two benefits. Certification path IASA is taking is drawing from examples of other, more established, disciplines (medicine, construction architecture, etc) and it looks well thought-out and beneficial for the members and potential employers. Board certification is the most respectful aspect of the whole package. I hope IASA will make it tough (but relevant and fare) and will never back down from it. I have one architecture certification, which I will not name here, that wasn’t a piece of cake to obtain. It took me some time and effort to do an assignment and write two exams. Still, I would be so much more satisfied and proud had a board certification was a part of that process.
Everybody was treated by a keynote speech by John A. Zachman, the famous creator of Zachman Framework. John was a very passionate, animated and authentic speaker. It seemed like he wasn’t given all the time he would love to for his presentation, so he simply flew through his slides using an antiquated overhead projector. It’s amazing how much he managed to deliver though: the history of his studies, parallels between his framework and works of ancient philosophers and knowledge seekers, and conceptual similarities between his schema and periodic table of elements. Seemingly dry topic was sprinkled by his own funny stories which made everybody constantly engaged and the time went really fast.
Next there was an Architect Boot-camp – pretty much the main reason I came here for. The boot-camp was held by Paul Preiss, President and Founder of IASA. Paul is one of those people who “have you at hello”. His energy, passion and love for what he does and what he stands for is second to none. Being a member of Toastmasters club, I cannot help it but to evaluate each in every speaker in my head. Let me tell you that Paul has it all figured out. He did have quite a few “ums” and “ahs” and his body language wasn’t always sharp, but it didn’t matter in this case. He was prepared, he sounded authoritative, knowledgeable and personal. Vocal variety was rich and appropriate and his eye contact made me feel welcomed. OK, enough about Toastmasters stuff.
The main point about Architect Boot-camp is in its content. I was simply blown away. Five years that Paul and his associates spent on making IASA what it is and working on all educational material manifested itself right there and then. I will not reproduce content of his slides here, I just want to point out three things. First, I got my main question answered. I now know the value proposition of IASA and what differentiates it from other IT architecture associations and institutions. In the nutshell, IASA strives to make “IT Architect” a profession in its fullest meaning of the word. This is exciting. I cannot help but feel sometimes as a hobbyist and amateur compared to people from law, medical and traditional engineering fields. This doesn’t have to be this way. Second, the breath and depth of software architecture is staggering and it seems like IASA has all the bases covered. As I continue my studies I will test this assumption, but so far I’m impressed. Third, many things Paul mentioned really resonated with me and I want to be a more integral part of IASA.
The boot-camp was going at a tremendous pace, delivering lots of value, but then Paul had to leave and Cliff Berg stepped up to deliver the next chapter. This is where the fairy tale ended. The reason why this session was so useful and full with insight and knowledge was only in part because of content. The delivery of the content was an essential catalyst. Cliff is a seasoned IT professional and a smart man but he wasn’t ready to lead the boot-camp. I don’t mean any disrespect here, may be there was a miss-communication, lack of time, or any other objective reason. The end result was that we covered only about 20% of what was intended. Paul came back couple of hours later and finished the course as best as he could.
The day ended with another treat for all attendees: thought leadership panel with Angela Yochem, Grady Booch, Eric Evans, John Zachman, Roger Sessions and William H. Inmon. This was absolutely worth it. John predicted a new role of VP of Change in the future of organizations and William compared architecture with a road to his house. If I was making notes, I would have remembered much more… One interesting thing that I noticed is that in more than couple occasions, Grady was shaking his head in disagreement when John was answering questions. I wish the host would have caught it all those times and let Grady offer his side. John was only present at the first day of the conference, so that was the only chance for him and Grady to exchange opinions.
Looking forward for the day two now!