This article is a first-hand report about preparing for the SOACP certification and passing the exam. I decided to do this certification after I met Thomas Erl at the SOA Symposium 2010 in Berlin, Germany (see this older blog). I will tell you, why I like this certification and why (in my opinion) it makes a lot of sense. But I will also criticize some small details.
SOA is Dead? No, it is more alive than ever before…
In 2009, Anne Thomas Mannes blog „SOA is Dead; Long Live Services“ got a lot of attention. Reading the blog made clear, that Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) is not dead, of course. SOA is no more a hype. Instead of that, SOA is reality and essential for future success of large, long-living IT projects. SOA products are mature and stable instead of early alpha releases. Over the years, many design patterns and best practices were established to make a SOA introduction successful.
… so you should do a SOA Certification! But which one?
SOA Certified Professional (SOACP) is a vendor-neutral SOA certification of soaschool.com, which is founded by the well-known author Thomas Erl. His SOA books are the defacto standard within the SOA environment and approved by huge firms with good reputation such as IBM, Oracle, SAP, Red Hat, Yahoo and Microsoft.
Other SOA certifications exist besides SOACP, e.g. from IBM. I always prefer vendor-neutral certifications. Nevertheless, if you are used to work with IBM products all the time, such a certification may also be a good idea.
ZapThink also offers a vendor neutral SOA certification. That website also compares its certification to SOACP from soaschool. You should look at this interesting comparison!
Nevertheless, I prefered doing the certification of soaschool, which contains the information of the defacto standard SOA books instead of ZapThink’s content (which I have never heard before).
Unfortunately, no first-hand reports from neutral people are available for both, ZapThink and SOACP. Thus, I hope this article will help you gather information about SOACP. And I also hope, that someone will write a first-hand report about the ZapThink SOA certification.
Different Certifications for different Roles
A large SOA project requires several different roles. Each specific role has ist own tasks. Different certifications require different modules (e.g. SOA Technology Concepts, SOA Design and Architecture or SOA Security) – and therefore exams – to pass. Certifications are available e.g. for SOA Analysts, SOA Consultants, SOA Architects or SOA Developers. See also soacp.com for a good overview.
At least five exams must be passed to get such a certification. Some of the modules are „labs“, i.e. real practice work is required (and I like that).
But you can start with the plain „SOA Certified Professional“ (SOACP) – without a prefix such as Consultant or Developer. This certification requires to pass just two exams (module 1 and an arbitrary second one). The following information experiences are gained from the SOACP…
Contents of Module 1 and 2
I will not describe the content. I just list some important headwords and key messages. As mentioned, the exam concentrates on content of the SOA books of Thomas Erl.
Module 1 (S90.01 – Fundamental SOA & Service-Oriented Computing) contains absolute basic SOA stuff. Nevertheless, this information is very important for everyone working in a SOA project (and actually, many people working in a SOA project do not understand these basics). In the following, I list some of the facts you learn – and although they should be clear, they are not clear for many people:
- Strategic goals of SOA (e.g. increased Interoperability, increased organizational agility)
- Service and Service Composition
- Service-Orientation Design Principles (e.g. service loose coupling, service reusablity, standardized service contract, service autonomy)
- Service Delivery Lifecycle
- Service Consumer and Service Provider
- Adoption Impacts (e.g. organisational-, infrastructure-, maturity-, migration-, governance-considerations
- SOA is a concept, not a technology or product
- SOA is a strategic, enterprise-centric goal (i.e. long-term)
- Web Service != Service-oriented Architecure
- Web Service != SOAP Web Service
- Top-down vs. Bottom-up introduction of SOA
Conclusion about Module 1:
Focusing on concepts, principles and requirements enables you to view the SOA industry with increased clarity. Governance is often the least understood and least planned aspect of SOA. Absence of a governance plan (and budget) can jeopardize the success of SOA initiatives.
Module 2 (S90.02 – SOA Technology Concepts) contains technical basics (i.e. really basics, just absolute beginner stuff for each technology), e.g.:
- Service Roles (Consumer, Provider, Intermediary, Initial Sender, Ultimate Receiver)
- SOAP Web Service vs. REST Web Service vs. Proprietary Components
- XML, XML Schema, Namespaces
- SOAP, WSDL and UDDI
- WS-* such as WS-Addressing and WS-Policy
- Web Service Contracts
- Web Service Messaging
- Message Exchange Patterns (MEP)
- Distributed Transactions
- Enterprise Service Bus
Conclusion about Module 2:
A good overview about technology concepts is given. But be aware, that it really is an overview. No deep details about XML, WSDL or other technologies (but further module will teach you many details).
A Self-Study Kit is available for every module. It costs 400 USD and contains:
- A booklet with all content for the exam
- A second booklet with a summary, questions and exercises
- At least two Audio CDs (spoken by Thomas Erl, each about 60 minutes), explaining the content and giving some hints for the exam
- Flash Cards with questions and answers on the back
- An exam voucher (for one free attempt; expires after twelve months) => An additional attempt costs about 150 USD
The fifth module is free, so you can do a certification with five modules for 1600 USD using the self-study kits.
Additionally, workshops are available all over the world. Price is about as much as workshops from other IT coaching companies.
Of course, you can also do the certification without self-study kits and without workshops, especially if you have deep SOA knowledge already. But for most people at least the self-study kits are necessary.
I used the following methodic while preparing and I recommend you doing the same:
1. Read the booklet at least two times (until you really understand everything) – but do not read the sample exam questions at the end of the booklet!
2. Listen to Audio CD 1 (content of the booklet, same order of chapters as in booklet)
3. Read the booklet again
4. Listen to Audio CD 2 (content of the booklet, plus some hints for the exam, random order of chapters)
5. Read the booklet again
6. Try the flash cards
7. Try the sample exam questions of booklet one (do not read these before this point!)
8. If you think you are ready, take the exam. Otherwise do more preparations (e.g. read some of the chapters of the SOA books => they explain every fact very detailed). Then try the exam.
How to pass the Exam(s)?
Of course, you do a certification to learn something. But you also want to pass the exam. So, here some information:
- The exam questions are fair
- You need about 80% to pass a exam (about 40 of 50 questions) => Each exam differs a little bit
- Questions are: True or False; 1 of X; N of X
- Time is one hour (more than enough!)
- Real knowledge is checked, no unfair pitfalls (as e.g. in the SCJP exam for Java SE)
- If you have some experiences with SOA and XML, you should be able to pass the exam without reading any of the SOA books (probably you already did this earlier in your project). If you are an newbie to XML and SOA, you will have to study the contents in the SOA books. Otherwise, it will be tough to pass the exam
- I am not allowed to post information about the content of the questions, so please do not ask me!
- You have to do the exam at a Prometric Test Center. I described my experiences with Prometric in my SCJP blog. Be sure to read this if you have never done a Prometric exam yet.
I passed module 2 with 98%, but module 1 with just 82% (80% required), because I had problems with some questions. I cannot tell you if I misunderstood these questions (I am no native english speaker). But sometimes, some „strange“ words or sentences confused me. Thus, contrary to module 2, I was not sure about some answers. I have heard from other people passing module 1 with 95+ %, so probably I had just a bad day.
My only criticism is the preparation booklet. It simply consists of the slides which are used in the workshops. Thus, you got a DIN A4 paper, but just half of it contains the slide. The slide is intended for a presentation on a beamer. Some graphics are very difficult to read. To be fair, most slides are just text, and there are also many good readable graphics.
After each chapter, there is a slide which says „do an exercise now“. First you do not understand, what you should do now, because the next slide is is the first page of the next chapter. Is this exercise just for the workshop? No, all exercises are at the end of the booklet!
Nevertheless: If you pay 400 USD for two booklets and some CDs, you should expect some kind of a real booklet, not just Powerpoint slides. BWT: I know some other certifications of other vendors using the same style. That is very bad practice, in my opinion.
Besides this criticism, everything else is fine with the exam and I am convinced that every SOA guy should do it!
Conclusion about SOACP
You have to understand SOA if you want to introduce or apply SOA. This certification is a great, vendor-neutral opportunity to learn what SOA is – conceptually and technically.
The final slide of module 1 is a great summary:
„An SOA initiative does not need to be enterprise-wide to provide benefit, nor does it require the creation of a global data model. Most SOA benefits and ROI [Return on Investment] are long-term investment and impact is up-front. The more up-front effort you put into each service, the less of a governance burden the service becomes. Focusing on concepts, principles and requirements enables you to view the SOA industry with increased clarity.“
Many SOA projects failed in the past, because people are not familiar with SOA and its concepts – e.g. still many people think that you can build a SOA just by using SOAP Web Services instead of proprietary components. So, if you are new so SOA, you should do this certification to learn SOA concepts. If you already have experience with SOA, you should do this certification (with much less effort than a SOA newbie) to get a confirmation about your SOA knowledge.
How to continue after SOACP?
As mentioned, the SOACP just contains basic knowledge of SOA. This is very important, and everybody involved in a SOA project should have this knowlegde.
Nevertheless, you should continue with other modules to become a SOA Certified Architect (or whatever you want to become). Besides, a Cloud Certification is already available.
So, what is your opinion about the SOACP and other SOA certifications? Or maybe you also have some experiences with these certifications and want to share them with us?
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
Hi Kai, how are you?
I have some doubts and questions about this certification and study ´s method.
Have you used some simulator tool or preparation kit like TestKing, pass4sure, examsexpert, etc ?? What tool do you recommend ?
For the Module 1 (S90.01) and Module 2 (S90.02), what Thomas Erl´s books did you read and use in this modules? I have the first book (Service-Oriented Architecture:
Concepts, Technology & Design), only this book is enough for this modules?
Besides the Self-Study Kit from Thomas Erl, did you use other materials?
Thanks in advance Kai for the help and answers
I had a lot of knowledge about SOA (both theory and concepts of MODULE 1 and basic technologies of MODULE 2) from several projects before doing this certification.
Thus, I did not need any further materials besides the Self Study Kits. If you need some more information, each chapter of the Self Study Kits has a reference to one or more chapters of Thomas Erl’s books. So it guides you what you have to read if you do not have enough knowledge yet.
I will do some more advanced modules to become a SOA Architect. Therefore, I will also have to study some of the (really good) book chapters.
Honestly, I never heard of the simulator tools or preparation kits like TestKing, pass4sure, examsexpert.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
Thank you for answers and help.
About the certification, I have some knowledge in conceptual and theory in SOA(I have two certification by IBM about SOA, I know wich is different, but the conceptual is the same); and have the first and second book from Thomas Erl.
I agree with you, to become a SOA Architect, we´ll need more advanced modules and self-study kit; but for the module 1 and 2; I would like to try use only the books (because the shipping tax for the Self-Study kit is too expensive and time is too long, about 2-3 months to delivery).
Could you tell me, of course, what chapters of Thomas Erl’s books has referencing in of the Self Study Kits ?
About the simulator tools, there is this: http://www.testking.com/S90-01A.htm
Thank you again for the help and attention.
I recommend you to buy the self study kits! The books have very much content that is not necessary. The kits give a short, concise overview about the content, including exam questions and preparation tips.
Each single part of the kit has its own references (very detailed), so it is too much effort for me to write down all references (about 50 I would guess)… Sorry.
If you ship via landway (as I did), then the shipping costs are acceptable. It took about 6 weeks, but of course it may take longer.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
Thank you again for the answer, it´s help me so much; and congratulations for the blog and certification. On nexts months, I ´m gonna start to study and schedule the exam.
Thanks again for help,
I am doing the certification from the SOA school as well. I have completed 2 exams and about to take remaining exams. The question is that, how many certified architects have been produced by SOA School so far and when this certification course started?
I do not know any official source. Probably, not so many people have done a soaschool certification yet. If more people write blogs or articles about their experiences, the SOACP would become more widespread and everybody would benefit from it…
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
I’m currently studing the self-study kit for module 1, and I have seen that the references to the SOA books contained in the self-study guide are much deep than what is contained in the course booklet. My question is, is the exam based on the information contained in the booklet or there are also questions of the book references.
the exam is based on the information of the booklet. You only have to look at the book references if you do not understand something.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
Ok, thanks for quick reply
I just passed Module 1 and I’m preparing for the Module 2 exam. A was just wondering, and maybe you can help me, what is the process to get the actual certificacion once the exams are completed.
Thanks for your time.
Well, you receive a confirmation email very soon after the second exam. Then you are allowed to use the SOACP logo (e.g. on your website). After some weeks you also receive your certificate via mail. I think it was shipped from Canada or so, thus it takes some weeks to Europe.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
Hi Kai, Thanks for the blog. I wrote Module 1 , Module 2 and Module 3 today(12/08/2011) and passed them all. I only read the books as the study guides are fairly expensive. Buying a book seemed a better investment for me.Now i am going for module 8 and 9. Is there anyone who has written these already.
sorry my date is wrong 🙂 12/07/2011
yeah, you are right. The books are a much better investment (we already bought the books long before I did the certification). If you know the content of the books, you do not have to learn any more stuff.
The study guides only help you to learn in a compromised way…
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
I passed Module 8, nice exam. SOA Design Pattern book was sufficient for me. I must confess I think 1hr may be a little insufficient because some of the questions and possible answers are long and you really need to read these careful before making a choice. This might be an issue to those of us who don’t speak English as a first language 🙂 What do others think ? Greetings from the South part of Africa.
Gosh, today I got 76% on the first exam. I’m really upset about it.
Some questions, as you said, sound “strange” from non-native speaker.
I realized that you must record in your mind all slides that are printed in the preparation kit. And, another thing that f*ck*d my life was the way they prepared questions with multiple choices.
I already got many Oracle, Sun, OMG certifications. But, in all these exams, multiple choices are numbered (eg.: Select 4 answers) and, in SOACP exam, questions are defined like “Select all that Apply” and there are a lot of questions that follow this pattern.
Unfortunately, I will take it again next month. I hope next time I will pass, but it is quite expensive for me.
Anyway, congratz for your certification and thanks for sharing your experience 😉
Firstly, thanks for sharing your experience.
I have moderate knowledge on SOA (But frankly not in depth).
I started reading SOA Principles & Service Design by TE and today I received my Self study kit too.(So count down started 🙂 ).
Ok. Now my questions are
1. What is the best way to prepare for this Module 1 exam.
2. Is it enough if I go through only study kit ? (Remember, as I mentioned I am moderate )
3. Any tips you can suggest to crack this exam.
I appreciate your help ans suggestion which are really helpful for me to take this exam.
Also 4) please let me know what are the chapters in SOA principles and SErvice design by TE, I must cover before taking exam.
the study kit tells you exactly which pages you have to read.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
if you do not have much experience with SOA, you should read the pages in the books which are proposed by the study kit. Read them once, then use the study kit to learn. This should be enough to pass the exam.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
Thanks for your quick reply. In study kit it is referred
SOA Desgin patterns and (SDP) and WSC. Do I need to buy these books too. Sorry for too many questions. But your inputs are great help to a dummy like me :).
It depends on your SOA knowledge. If you understand everything of the study kit’s slides, then you do NOT need the books. If you do not understand everything, read about the details in the corresponding book…
What I understood from your reply is, If I study the chapters from SOA-PSD book that are mentioned in study kit (mentioned 3,4,6,16,Appendix B) and self study kit thoroughly , then that is more than sufficient.
Thanks a ton
Yes, that is correct. That will be sufficient! You will not have any problems to pass the exam (hopefully)!
Usually you do not have to read everything, only the stuff you do not understand in the study kit’s slides…
5) How to know whether I am good to take exam as I do not have enough sample exams. Any suggestion to this question is greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately, there is no answer to this question 🙁
Hi Pat, did you take the exam? It’s enough to study chapters of book with no use the study-kit?
I’m studing only the book beacause study-kit is too much expensive for me and I will take the exam on 18th of this months.
I tried some simulation of the exam using a training tool (testking).
Anyone have some suggestions or advises?
I passed the module 1 with 100%. I thought I failed the exam. Oh well, I made some good guesses.
Ema, I did not take the exam yet as I was busy with my new project deliveries and some personal commitments. But geared up my preparations. Please share your experience after 18 th. Your reply will give energy to me :).
Please share your experience and how prepared so that it will be helpful to the people like me and Ema. I appreciate your reply.
first of all kudos for this excellent blog. ( We need more specialized professional blogs )
I think that the most important question is how useful is a SOA certification in the job market. I am searching for a new role right now ( I have SOA experience for more than five years – deployment/troubleshooting/integration – in a very large project in telecoms industry) and I am worried if it is worth the time to go through a certification process… My first research showed that there are very few job advertisements which require explicitly for certification.
1) Thank you, I appreciate your praise
2) I think the SOACP is not as important as for example the Sun / Oracle Java certifications, because SOACP is less known (and also less tough to pass). I think soaschool should do more marketing (not only sales, but also talking about contents).
3) As I did the SOACP by myself, I know that it is a good certification regarding its content. If you look for a new SOA job (or a new SOA project at a new customer with your current company), SOACP helps a lot!
Why? Because these guys will ask you at least: “What is SOACP, never heard it”. Then you can explain its content and your project experiences regarding this content. Because the content is good, they will see that you have a lot of SOA knowledge and probably hire you…
Thus, I recommend the SOACP, although it is that famous certification!
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)
today I passed the module 1 with 92%.
The exams was quite simple because some of the questions were I found in the preparation test of TestKing
Now, I want to start to study for module 2, any suggestion?
See you soon
Congrats!! Can you please share how was your preparation?
It helps me a lot to others.
I just passed the module 2 with 98%, and I thought I got all of them correct. To those who wants to pass with high score, reading the text book as listed outline is very important. Those slides do not give sufficient details. Also answer those questions in the outline booklet to really test if you really know the content. Listening to exam CD is also highly recommended. Many of the exam questions were discussed in the exam CD. I feel the exam is fairly straight forward, no tricky questions.
To add more detail for preparation, use the flash card for review, and I also worked on the quizzes on the back of the book. What is the whole point of buying expensive kit if you don’t utilize them to the max. If you have done all these things I mentioned, it is very difficult to score < 90.
Kent, talking about module 2 and the book, can you give me some indication regarding the chapters? Which chapters of the book are covered by the exams?
Ema, can you please reply to my question?.
Sorry Pat, I didn’t see your request.
Anyway… I studied only the book. I read all chapters and I put my focus on 3,4,6,16 chapters and Appendix B.
Also, I used testking exams simulator. It’s very useful because half of questions was in the simulation.
I need some clarification on the SOA school certification.Can you let me know the validity period of this certification.I mean is this certification having any expiry period?
Just want to thank you for the wonderful blog, and i’m wondering if anyone faced a problem downloading the Testking demo version? and appreciate if anyone has another link to download the testking simulator for module1
First thanks Kai for your blog, it is very interesting!!
Today I passed the exam of module 1, I’ve found it very easy, I obtained 90 %, I am still wondering in what I failed.
I used the self study kit and also exam questions that I bought in one of the many Internet web sites, many of the questions appear in the exam what is really good.
Now my idea is prepare module 3 because I still don’t know what certification take, module 3 is in all of them so I think that the best idea is take it.
Any recommendation to prepare module 3?, should I buy the exam questions as I did for module 1?, is the exam of this module more difficult than the module’s one exam.
Many thanks in advance for your answers.
I only took module 1 and 2 (to become SOA-certified Professional), but I think the self study kit + exam questions is best preparation for all exams!
Thanks for this blog. It helped me pass module 1 with 100%.
I’m ready for module 2. Can some one tell which chapters should I read from the text book for module 2.
1. What is the validity of this certification ?
2. Does one needs to again re-apply for the exam to stay certified as happens the case with few of CISCO certifications ?
1) It is rather theoretical. You need to do SOA in practice besides doing this certifiaction. However, it shows that you understand the basics of SOA (many people do NOT)
2) I do not think so. It does not make sense to re-do this certification and learn the theory again 🙂 CISCO products add new features with each release, thus it makes more sense to re-do…
Hi Kai, first of all thanks a lot for giving such a nice feedback about the SOA certification, it’s really helped me to decide whether I should go for it or not.
Congrats to all who have cleared their exam and are in conversation to this group :)..I just ordered my self study material for module 1’s preparation.
@Ema: You mentioned that, ” I used testking exams simulator. It’s very useful because half of questions was in the simulation”. I see it cost ~$100 for 70-80 questions. Is it the one that you bought or it was demo only? Thanks in advance for your reply :).
Hi, I am currently in southafrica..i check with prometric centre for the exams…they are saying we are not able to find exam codes….can you please help me where can write the exam and what is the cost here ?
Finally I passed Module 1. I know this was long time pending from my side. But was stuck with so many project deliveries;
Kai, Can you please let me know the chapters that I should cover for the exam Module 2 ?
Hi, I would like to by used Self-Study Kit and testking exam questions for S90.01, S90.02 and S90.03. I live in Germany, but I hope that we could arrange even if you live in some other country. If you have any of these, please write what you sell, the price and the country in which you live.
Can you please suggest or point to correct resource which gives an overview of the chapters to study for each module.
I have SOA certfication books but i am not sure which chapters to study for Module 4 and 5
Sorry, I just did module 1 and 2. And this was a long time ago 🙂
Hi I have Cloud computing Professional self-study kits for Module 2 and Module 3 alongside with 2 exam vouchers. I am selling for 750 total +shipping cost. I will be shipping from Chicago.
Hi, your post and comments mentioned were very helpful. I cleared S90.01 with 96% today. Feeling accomplished :).
Congrats. Did you use the self study material or did you attend any workshops to prepare for exam
No, I did not use the self study kit. It looks costly. I referred to Principles of ServiceDesign – Thomas Erl; ch – 3,4 and appendix B. And practiced sample papers from testking. You should understand he concepts, then the exam will be a cake walk.
Thanks for enlisting your experiences in the blog. I am trying to give this certification a try and wanted to know if it’s fine if you study only the SOA related books or should we buy the self study kit listed in their website.
If i can only rely on SOA books for the exams, can you recommend the one’s which you referred for the same.
The content of the books is “sufficient”. However, the books have so much content, you cannot know / learn everything. So, I think the study kit is necessary for a realistic learning time frame.
15 days ago I did the exam. I get a 98%. And here are my tips.
1. Read the SOACP material, as Kai said, it is a comprised version of the books.
2. Indeed SOACP materials are costly, so reading the books, the recomended chapters listed in this blog, is a good aproach. But the entire book is a lot of information, useful in professional terms, but not so much for the exam.
3. Complete as many mock exams as you can, it is very useful, but be careful, some mocks on the internet has wrong answers, so I recommend to study carefuly each posible question, and requires a highly understand of the material readen.
4. Be careful with multiple choice “all that apply” questions. Is a pain in the….head. Requires high understand of the SOA Concepts, and all answers seems valid. My personal opinion.. those questions are tricky =).
5. I’m not native english. I recommend to have some Intermediate-High language capabilities. My personal Thought.
Well, thats all. I hope you get high scores, but most important, to learn concepts in a consistent manner.
Next, I’m studying for Module 2 on my SOA Architect Road.
My best wishes,
for Module 2: SOA Technology Concepts, here are another resources, with more detailed explanation about WS-*, like Coordination and Transaction.
This is an Arcitura web page.
I hope it is useful for you.
I am currently studying for Module 1, I did the mistake of buying the material, it so expensive!. So for Module 2, I would like to know what books and chapters I should read in order to pass the exam. Thanks in advance!
Thanks for the useful information. I’m preparing for the exam but I don’t want to buy the self study kit because it is expensive and because I prefer reading books rather than slides, so I’m reading SOA principles of service design by Thomas Erl. Do you think it’s a good idea to prepare using this book? I checked http://servicetechbooks.com/psd and they stated it as official curriculum but I don’t know which chapters are included and I don’t know if I can rely on this book.