Integration Architecture Designer Certification Guide & Tips

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  • Senior Level
  • 5+ years
  • No Prerequisites
  • 400

Table of Contents

Introduction

For architects, analysts, and application managers who want to prove they can design and implement secure, scalable integrations with the Lightning Platform, and are able to communicate the solution and design trade-offs to business/technical stakeholders.

The beauty of the Salesforce App Cloud platform is that it not only allows you to build apps at lightning speed but also provides tools to connect the platform with external systems. With its API-first approach, you can integrate the App platform with almost any legacy system and with other cloud platforms like AWS, GAE etc, without writing a lot of code.

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To help you become a better implementer and platform architect, Salesforce introduced (no prizes for guessing) the Integration Architecture Designer Certification.

Integration Architecture Designer is part of the System Architect pathway – in the same domain as: 

  • Identity and Access Management Designer
  • Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer
  • Mobile Solutions Architecture Designer

Is this a good starting point for the Architect pathway? I would say this is a good exam to take before other System Architect certifications. It follows on nicely from Platform Developer 1 in your first step into the Architect level.

The exam will test your knowledge on:

  • Salesforce Integration Capabilities (28%): which API/APIs to use when, Lightning Connect, 
  • Salesforce Integration Patterns (17%): Request and Reply, Fire and Forget, 
  • Enterprise Integration Architecture Concepts (15%): data cleaning, standardization, deduplication, and data transformation as part of data integration, 
  • Salesforce Integration Testing (10%)
  • Integrating with Salesforce Security (15%)
  • Tools (10%)
  • Monitoring (5%): identifying and isolating integration challenges. 

Who's the Ideal Candidate?

From the certification guidelines, the following skillset and knowledge is desirable and recommended to take this exam. I’ve copied them below verbatim for reference.

  • Has 5+ years of delivery experience,
  • Provides experienced guidance on the appropriate choice of on-platform and off-platform technology,
  • Although not pre-requisites, I recommend you are a certified on Admin, Advanced Admin, Developer, or Platform App Builder,
  • Understands integration capabilities and patterns, design trade-offs, and has the ability to communicate design choices,
  • Has held a technical architect role on multiple complex deployments or has gained equivalent knowledge through participation and exposure to these types of projects [either with single or multiple projects],
  • Has a thorough understanding of Web Services in general and SOAP and REST specifically; understands the basic workings of HTTP/S,
  • Understands the different Force.com APIs and is able to design solutions using the appropriate API,
  • Understands data migration considerations, design trade-offs, and common ETL tools,
  • Has experience with common integration patterns used on the Force.com Platform,
  • Understands patterns/mechanisms to secure integrations, such as TLS for HTTP.

If you haven’t taken the Platform Developer 1 Exam (and don’t have a coding background) there will be extra study involved for you to grasp some of the concepts! 

Key Topics

Salesforce Integration Capabilities (which API/APIs to use when)

The largest bulk of the exam will be around which API/APIs to use when. You will be presented with a business scenario and will be asked to recommend a design an integration design using a single API or multiple APIs. 

API-based integrations:

  • SOAP,
  • REST,
  • Bulk,
  • Streaming,
  • Canvas,
  • Workflow outbound,
  • APEX (Callouts, @ future, etc.).
  • plus, know Salesforce Connect.

You need to know:

  • When to use each
  • Compare design trade-offs (advantages/drawbacks)

The Which API Do I Use? Overview Table is a good place to start organising your existing knowledge.

Salesforce Integration Patterns

When it comes to Integration Patterns, you will need to:

  • Selecting the right pattern – and any issues that should be considered for each.
  • How the chosen pattern will achieve business goals (of the business scenario presented in the exam question)
  • Compare design trade-offs (advantages/drawbacks):
    Remote Process Invocation—Request and Reply, Remote Process Invocation—Fire and Forget, Batch Data Synchronization, Remote Call-In, and UI Update Based on Data Changes.

This PDF is your key resource, which includes a list of Patterns and ideal scenarios, and a very helpful Pattern Selection Matrix:

Integration Patterns Overview

You should also go beyond Salesforce and be comfortable with Integration Patterns principles more broadly. Often we are caught up in upskilling on Force.com that we forget to read wider. Use this resource hub to expand your knowledge. 

Salesforce Security Mechanisms

Know which Salesforce security mechanism to use when (both inbound and outbound integrations). Here’s a video that gives an overview of the topic.

Study Strategy

Wow! Trailhead really is amazing. There is now a Trailmix called “Architect Journey: Integration Architecture” which is the first place to start. Invest the 46 hours estimated to complete this Trailmix – you will find many key resources linked there (including some of the most important ones I mentioned in the ‘Key Topics’ section). 

Salesforce certifications are designed for you to prove you can apply your knowledge, and worm out anyone that is only memorising to pass the exam. Hands-on experience is important, but it’s understandable if your current day-to-day role doesn’t offer the breadth of multiple business use cases. To fill the gaps and solidifying your knowledge, take advantage of Trailhead modules with activities in Trailhead Playgrounds. 

Ladies Be Architects have kindly made their Study Group webinar recording public, great for those of you who prefer video/visual learning. Plus, check out their full Youtube playlist with 12 videos, each between 1.5-2 hours long.  

Exam Strategy

When exam day finally hits, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of passing with flying colours.

Firstly, if there are any concepts that you are struggling to get to grips with, then print off a cheat sheet and memorize just before the exam, so they are fresh in your memory.

When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times. If you have taken other Architect-level exams (or others eg. Salesforce Administrator, Sales Cloud) you would be right to expect long questions; however, even though the questions are mostly scenario-based, they are not as long as the other exams in the Architect pathway – which was refreshing after taking many certifications, myself!

Don’t let the shorter questions fool you! When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Always think back to key concepts will help you to cross-off wrong answers, even if they look like possible answers the first time you read them! (eg. inbound vs. outbound integrations, SOAP vs. REST, synchronous vs. asynchronous).

You also have a the “Mark for review” feature at your disposal. On each question, it’s a checkbox that you can mark if you cannot think of an answer right at that moment, or if you doubt your answer. At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review these questions. Depending on the amount you have selected, this will give you a good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test! Regardless of the questions marked for review, I would always recommend to go through every question again.

Resources

Tips

  • Complete the Trailmix, but don't get overwhelmed by the number of resources on there. You will know which ones are your key PDFs to keep referring to.
  • Always think back to key concepts eg. inbound vs. outbound integrations, SOAP vs. REST, synchronous vs. asynchronous

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, it is not an easy exam but it is not unfair, if you cover all the topics mentioned above in your revision and understand the intricacies and complexities of Salesforce integration you should be able to pass it (with flying colors). Feel free to reach out to me on twitter (@anup) if you have any specific questions about the exam.

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