ZapThink, Excel Partner Team to Zap SOA Skills Shortage

ZapThink and Excel Partner are joining ranks to identify and recruit enterprise architects and SOA professionals to address the shortage in the market.

ZapThink, a market research firm focusing on Web services and service-oriented architecture, has teamed up with Excel Partner to address one of the largest obstacles to SOA adoption: lack of qualified personnel.

Ronald Schmelzer, a Baltimore-based senior analyst with ZapThink, said his firm and Excel Partner, an executive search and staffing firm that specializes in SOA, have joined to provide a dependable source for qualified enterprise architects who have an SOA background. Together the partners created ARC, the Architect Resource Center, an online and consultative service aimed at helping enterprises locate and fill EA and SOA resource needs and at expanding the opportunities for capable architects.

"Were trying to solve one of the big problems with SOA, and thats that there arent enough people who can do architecture," Schmelzer said.

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Schmelzer said there are tools available to help enterprises with SOA implementations, but tools are not necessarily the solution. "Its like giving a 6-year-old a cake mixer and saying Bake a cake; you might get a cake but its not likely to be the kind youd want to serve at a wedding party," he said. "The tools are sophisticated enough, but the staff may not be."

Moreover, Schmelzer said, "As enterprises switch to SOA, many of them are realizing they dont have the skills, and we said, This is probably going to kill SOA. So we decided to try to do something about it."

So far, ARC has more than 20 architectural resources in its database. ARC is located online at and is available to any enterprise organization, consulting firm, product vendor or individual looking to bolster a team with strong enterprise architecture resources on either a full-time or part-time basis.

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Meanwhile, ZapThink recently announced its LZA (Licensed ZapThink Architect) program, which will be formally launched in the next few weeks. The LZA program provides a third-party credential that aims to bolster the skills, network and reputation of architects proficient in the area of SOA.

"Were trying to create ZapThink as sort of a community" for SOA professionals, Schmelzer said. "Think of us as part of the solution, as opposed to an analyst firm that is only identifying problems. Were helping with solutions."

Schmelzer said ZapThink is not attempting to eke revenue from the ARC effort, but to help the community. And ZapThink and Excel Partner are not alone, he added. "Both the OMG [Object Management Group] and the Open Group are also looking at the chronic shortage" of enterprise architects and SOA professionals, he said.

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