Most of my early IT education was founded in networking, and it has remained a huge interest for me during my career.

Because I had fundamental networking knowledge, I feel it made learning other areas an IT architect is responsible for much easier.  For a long time, I found myself bringing everything back to networking, which brings me to my first tip.

Relate what you want to know to something you already know well!

For me, this meant beginning to understand the network concepts of vSphere before I learned anything else, but it could mean different things for different technologies.  For example, when I had the epiphany that a SAN was just a special LAN, my mind was blown!

Another area this served me well in was understanding how applications really worked.  I payed close attention to their traffic patterns to undersand their function and criticality.  For example, I learned an application that sent a large amount of data on a Saturday night may have not been as important as an application that sent chunk of data across the wire every night.

My next tip is all about reflection.  When I’m learning something new, I like to reflect on how I got to be good at something.  I then seek to apply those same methods I have used in the past to learning something new, whether it be reading, watching videos, or doing some hands on lab work.

The power of self-reflection is not to be overlooked, and is something I talk about as a huge benefit of the journey to becoming an IT architect.  Coupled with the knowledge of what learning methods work best for you, you will soon be on your way to becoming a well rounded IT architect.

If you are thinking about becoming an IT architect, or want to learn more about the process, be sure to take a look at the book IT Architect Series: The Journey, A Practical Guidebook for Anyone Interested in IT Architecture.  It will teach you about the infrastructure areas you should know about, the power of self reflection, different methods of learning, and much much more!