2011 review

As is often the tradition I thought I would start the year with a couple of posts covering an overview of some key points from the last year, and some planned projects for this year.

As I am sure you have guessed this post will be a brief review of 2011 from a study / career / research perspective.

2011 was a pretty busy year with cloud security research, masters work and finally realising my previous role was no longer offering much/any challenge; culminating in moving to a new role at the end of the year / start of 2012.

From a study perspective I completed two more MSc modules;

– Wireless mobile and ad-hoc networking

– Secure systems programming

Assuming I pass the secure systems programming module (final piece of coursework was completed 9/1/12) there is ‘just’ the project left to complete in order to finish my masters.

Also on a Study front I achieved a couple of certifications;

– ISSAP (Information Systems Security Architecture Professional).  This is a secure architecture addition to the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).

– British Computer Society Enterprise and Solutions Architecture certificate.

So all in all a successful and reasonably productive year from a study / certification perspective, especially if I have managed to pass the secure coding module!

From a career perspective I has been looking around within my previous company for a little while but decided that I was stagnating in my previous role so it was time to look outside in order to move on.  The good news is I was successful, being offered a considerably improved role as a Senior Systems Architect with Canada Life that I started 3/1/12.  I’ll update on how this is going and any non propriety technologies / projects I am working on in upcoming posts.

From a research / general learning perspective 2011 was the year of the cloud.  As anyone who has read this blog knows I have been very involved in work defining Security as a Service (SecaaS) with the Cloud Security Alliance, chairing the research group on this topic.  This has resulted in a paper being published and SecaaS being added as a new domain to the CSA guidance.

I’ll follow this post with one detailing some of my plans and projects for 2012.



ISEB Enterprise and Solutions Architecture – update

Following from my previous post I can confirm that the exam was pretty easy having got a pretty reasonable passing mark after completing the exam in ~25 minutes.

I have yet to see many job specs that require this certification so I don’t know how CV enhancing it really is.  However many job specs want knowledge of or familiarity with architecture frameworks such as TOGAF and Zachman, if you are not already fairly familiar with these then this course does provide a good overview and comparison of some frameworks.

Overall my assessment of the course / exam is as before – I think well worth while from the point of view of getting an overview of various architecture frameworks and the terminologies used, as well as meeting people from a variety of business backgrounds.  This should assist with any requirement for knowledge of architecture frameworks / methodologies your current or future roles have.  The caveat in terms of career value is that the certification itself seems to be in very low demand.


BCS / ISEB Certificate in Enterprise and Solution Architecture

This week I attended the BCS (British Computer Society, that refers to itself as ‘The Chartered Institute for IT’) ISEB (Information Systems Exam Board) ‘Certificate in Enterprise and Solution Architecture – Intermediate’ four day course and exam.  I’ll share my thoughts and impressions of the course and exam.

One the first day my hopes of the week being useful were actually low, as with many of these courses the main purpose was clearly about learning by wrote the facts required to pass the exam.  While this did indeed turn out to be true, the course turned out to be a lot more useful than expected.

This was due to a combination of factors;

– the instructor / tutor we had was actually very knowledgeable around the various architecture frameworks / ontologies such as TOGAF and Zachman.

– interaction with peers from a variety of industries and backgrounds.  As with any course / conference this is one of the key benefits as it gives you the opportunity to gain a wider viewpoint and see how developers and business analysts etc from different industries view architectures / business issues and what their concerns are.

– As the exams itself is largely about architect roles, frameworks and how they link together the course provides a good insight and overview of some of the most common frameworks and how there different terminologies used relate to each other.

If you want to know more about the course and topics covered, or just gain a greater insight into enterprise and solution architecture terminology then the web sight maintained by our tutor is is a great starting point;


Which also gives a clue as to his name.  If you do want to do the course and are UK / London based I’d recommend choosing a course with him instructing if you can, as he has many years experience in IT and the course material.  Graham also has some strong ideas and opinions which made for some great classroom debates.

I’d recommend this course to anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of enterprise / solution architecture frameworks, tools and terminology whether this is to aid a career in architecture, or just to better understand the concerns and considerations of the architects you work with.  Don’t get me wrong, the overall material is pretty dry as is the case with many courses around frameworks and terminology etc. but overall this course was well worthwhile.

Onto the exam – there is not a lot to say here, it is a one hour, forty question multiple choice affair.  If you have paid attention in the class and have a reasonable understanding of the reference model (pdf can be freely downloaded from the BCS web site or use the slides coving it from Graham’s site) , you should find the exam pretty easy, he says not having yet received confirmation of passing it!