Who will build the next enterprise architects?

Bringing the next generation of enterprise architects up to speed won't be an easy task. While most experts agree that the job is a critical one, given the corporate emphasis building business infrastructure in the most technically efficient way, training these future experts has proven difficult.

"There is clearly a shortage of qualified enterprise architects and other with a similar perspective in the labor market…even in an economy with high unemployment," noted R. Scott Bittler, an analyst with Gartner who recently penned the "Innovative, new enterprise architecture degree programs are under development" report.

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There is help on the way though. A new enterprise architecture program being rolled out by The Pennsylvania State University could have an impact. Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology will next fall begin offering an online masters degree program with a focus on enterprise architecture. The masters program is only part of what Penn State will be offering. An undergrad and online certificate program are also on tap as well as an enterprise architecture research center.

The program has been in development for over a year and has involved some 70 companies -- including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Honeywell -- and professional associations such as The Open Group as part of the advisory group behind the Penn State program, says Brian Cameron, a Penn State professor and the director of the Enterprise Architecture Initiative.

"The current financial crisis has created a demand for more formal research and education as well as a need for more agile enterprise architects. Our program is designed to address those requirements and more," Cameron says.

So will other universities begin offering such programs? The Gartner report notes that other schools are discussing the possibility of developing enterprise architecture programs and it is likely some will follow on delivering them during the next several years.

Currently other universities that offer anything near an enterprise architecture degree program are all overseas. For example the Delfi University of Technology offers a Master of Science with a specialization in information/enterprise architecture, Bittler wrote.

"CIOs, lead architects and other corporate leaders should monitor the development of higher education initiatives in EA and consider the opportunity to use the Penn State EA program to address staffing needs for recruiting or existing staff development. CIOs and other leaders should be aware of developments such as this and consider plans to take advantage of them during the next two years" Bittler wrote.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

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