IT Architects: Keystones of the Digital Future

3rd May 2024

Article by Paul Hearns, Blockchain Ireland

IT Architects Keystones of the Digital Future - Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet article

Understanding the importance and guiding the development of the IT architect profession is key to reaching the full potential of the digital revolution. The most recent instalment of Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet’s techBREW series, which was run in partnership with Iasa Global, saw attendees gather in Dublin to discuss the “Citizen as Service Integrator” in the context of the IT architect profession.

The event opened with Gar Mac Críosta, Digital Advisor to the HSE and Iasa CITA-Distinguished, in conversation with the event host, Paul Hearns of Blockchain Ireland. Taking the conversation back to the lessons learned socially, technically, and architecturally, from the development of the COVID Tracker app, Mac Críosta described how other opportunities were identified to take aspects of that model and adapt them for wider use. With potential applications for the HSE in particular, Mac Críosta said a health app was one of the logical developments.

Architecting Digital Services to Benefit All

The Office of the Government CIO (OGCIO) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) developed a great working relationship during COVID-19. The benefits of co-designing and developing standards-based open source digital products was a natural next step. Government CIO, Barry Lowry, raised the ambition to bring the benefits of some of the key features of the previous app and its underlying technology platform to everyone.

Mac Críosta recounted how this led in stages to the current trial of a government digital wallet for citizenry that can hold credentials from likes of passport, driver’s licence, etc., right down to things like medical cards, and even in the future enable third party credentials such as academic, or even utilities IDs.

The idea was that a government assured, verified digital wallet was a way that trust in government could be made use of for the citizen in engaging digitally with government, public and eventually commercial services.

Mac Críosta emphasised that the partnership of private companies working in partnership through open frameworks with government and public services proved itself with the COVID Tracker app, and facilitated developments that will be the basis of even more useful and supportive digital services in the future where the citizen is in control of their data and how it is made available to service providers, irrespective of who they are.

Panel Talk: The Importance of the Architect Profession

With the broad theme of the importance of the profession of IT architect, Mac Críosta was joined on the discussion panel by Dennis Mulder, CEO and Co-founder at WVE / Iasa CITA-Distinguished; David Jones, Chief Architect and IT leader at WVE / Iasa Global CITA-Distinguished; Clare Dillon, InnerSource Researcher at University of Galway and Co-founder of Open Ireland Network; and Sarah Gibney, Head of Health Information Policy at the Department of Health.

In a wide ranging discussion, themes of continuing professionalisation, certification, lifelong learning and micro-credentials were discussed. InnerSource researcher Claire Dillon talked about how in the open source world, and its Inner Source application, the IT architect is still at the centre of activity, and that open source methodologies have informed much of how architects work in today’s open framework environments.

panel talk at the techbrew event for software architecture with iasa global ireland chapter
Speaking at the techBREW event (L-R): Paul Hearns (Blockchain Ireland); David Jones (WVE); Dennis Mulder (WVE); Clare Dillon (Open Ireland Network); Sarah Gibney (Department of Health); and Gar MacCriosta (HSE)

IT Architect Experiences

There was much engagement from the floor, with attendees sharing their experiences, as well as asking questions of the panelists, and recounting experiences from various aspects of how IT architects fit within the overall organisational chart and the stages at which they interact to fulfil business needs. The panel rounded off with how a professional body such as Iasa Global should, and does, support the community and how it continues to adapt to meet evolving needs.

The floor was then given over to Leo Peyton, advisor at WVE, Business Technology Strategy and Commercial Director of Iasa Global, who, with David Jones, gave an outline for Iasa in Ireland and its continuing work in the profession of IT architect. They highlighted the success of programmes such as the MSc in Software Solutions Architecture, delivered by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet and Technological University Dublin, in turning out the kind of professionals that will lead and inspire in the industry.

Certified Architect Professionals

Official proceedings were rounded out by the presentation of certificates to the students who most recently completed certification programmes, presented by Cormac Keogh, Senior Solutions Architect at AWS.

Some of the learners from our MSc in Software Solutions Architecture receiving their Iasa Certification in Software Architecture (CITA-A). Pictured from left to right: Sean Wallace; Ian Bruwer; Sooraj Shajahan; Ahmed Salah Mohamed; Ashling Malone; Raghunath Thekkemadathil; and Ed Salmon.

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