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Designing Enterprise Solutions, Salesforce CTA (Certified Technical Architect) Style
By Mitesh Mistry, Head of Enterprise Architecture, VRP Consulting
There are multiple disciplines and roles involved in completing and delivering a technology project, including developers, business analysts, projects managers, quality assurance teams, and also the technical architects. In this article, I would like to focus on the role of the technical architect in delivering technology projects and highlight how the Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA) qualification prepares and produces the topmost and elite architects in the industry.
Little Bit About Me
I work as the head of architecture for a Salesforce Silver Partner called VRP Consulting. I have been working in the Salesforce ecosystem for the last 10 years, solving client challenges and delivering enterprise solutions across a range of industries. I recently worked as a program architect at Salesforce, shaping the technology vision for the clients that I served. Something that I will have to mention is that I’m also a little bit of a TV celebrity, I won the BBC Family Cooking Showdown, so I can architect a range of culinary masterpieces as well.
What is the Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA) qualification?
The Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA) is the topmost credential in the Salesforce ecosystem. With only 300+ individuals holding this credential, it is one of the most difficult and challenging architectural assessments to pass. It requires both years of hands-on architectural experience, and a deep-level understanding of the Salesforce platform and the wider technology landscape in which Salesforce often resides. As a result, those who achieved this credential are knowledge-rich and deep visionaries in the architecture space, and are often placed as architectural leads on large-scale strategic projects across industries. It takes years of experience and deep study to reach this level, which is why the CTAcredential is so highly regarded in the industry.
Why is the CTA credential so Important?
As part of the study plan for the Salesforce CTA credential one has to delve deep and have a concrete understanding of the following domains: integration, security &single sign on, access controls, data migration, large data volume management, application architecture & efficient data modelling,mobile readiness and governance. These are large specialisms in their own right, and the CTA must have a very thorough understanding of each domain.
This depth of understanding is extremely important in allowing the architect to make the right design decisions and recommendations to meet the enterprise architecture requirements for a project. This rich understanding also makes the CTA an indispensable resource on a project.
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Enterprise Solutions Design
When designing a solution for a large enterprise, one must always start with considering where the business is today, and where they want to get to in three to five years’ time. After understanding their high-level objectives and plan, one can start to paint the picture with the brush of technology and see what applications, systems and solutions can be delivered to help the company achieve their objectives. The Salesforce certified technical architect must assess the current and future system landscape in line with the client’s objectives, and form a technology roadmap that will deliver smaller chunks of the solution as stepping stones to help the enterprise realise their vision over time. The CTA has been trained to look at a solution from a long-term perspective and lead and carry the customer on that journey.
Key to the success of any technology programme is facilitating ease of use through key application integrations in the solution. As a Salesforce CTA, we have a toolkit of commonly used enterprise integration patterns and frameworks that can be easily applied to cover the majority of integration scenarios. The use of an ETL (Extract Transform Load) and ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) middleware is crucial to managing the integrations, and the adoption of industry approved patterns (Request-Response, Remote Call-In, Batch Data Synchronisation, APEX Continuation Framework). It is the responsibility of the CTA to pick the right integration approach to match the use case, keeping in mind timing and data volume considerations as well.
This leads me on to mentioning data and future proofing the solution. On day one of any solution, the data volumes may be small or based on an initial data load. The CTA must look at the solution in two,three or five years’ time, and understand what it is going to look like across the core objects. There will be areas of excessive data growth, and without proper data management on the platform using ‘custom indexes’ and ‘skinny tables’ or a solid archival strategy involving an enterprise data warehouse, we can degrade the performance of the solution over time. It is therefore important for the CTA to consider large data volume management up-front as it is a key and critical aspect of the solution, which will impact system performance in the long run. Key decisions must be early on in this area to deliver a sound solution.
Security & Access Control
Salesforce as multitenant platform is built on the value of trust, and key measures have been in place in the platform from its inception to ensure and guarantee security and compliance. On top of this, the CTA can consider additional mechanisms provided at both an application level: platform encryption and cryptography, and a platform level: authenticated & network-based access control. These are inbuilt features in the Salesforce platform, and the CTA must leverage those to control security. Additionally, the CTA must consider the overall landscape from a security perspective to decide which systems will sit locked down in the internal network, reside in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone),which systems can be cloud based, and the appropriate security approaches to be used.
Forming an Enterprise Ready Solution
All of the above are key elements that must be considered by an established architect when designing for the enterprise. I have only highlighted some of the core topics, there are many other aspects one must consider in strategic and robust solution design. I feel the Salesforce certified technical architect credential is excellent preparation for someone who wishes to become an esteemed enterprise architect, and I would recommend everyone to look into this credential. I work as the Head of Architecture for a Salesforce Silver Partner, VRP Consulting, driving innovation and transforming our customer across a range of industries by providing enterprise scale solutions. The learnings in my #JourneyToCTA is my key backbone that helps me deliver exceptional value to the clients that I serve.
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