There is no doubt that our world increasingly depends on software. Programs are a core element that is used in any area of activity. In fact, there are many innovations that we take for granted – for example, such companies as Paypal or Aliexpress would not exist if they were not based on software.
Even financial, social and commercial companies depend on software. Nowadays, it is difficult to find any company that has not been involved in the software industry.
For such companies to continue their existing, the software, they operate, must be productive and accessible when necessary. The software architecture has an impact on all these parameters.
So, as you understood the topic of my article is architecture in IT. Here I will talk about a solution architecture in its general meaning, a solution architect job, solution architect role, and responsibilities, and distinguish the pros and cons of this job. So, let’s start…
What does a solution architecture mean in general?
success of any contemporary company depends on information technologies,
conformity to their goals and tasks of business. How can we
synchronize business and IT? Will the existing IT systems satisfy the business
requirements? How well do our IT systems meet
the requirements of information security? What is the condition of networks, servers, other
technical equipment? How well are they being used? Are they outdated? I think these questions are familiar to
IT architecture can help the company to cope with making decisions on these issues.
So, what is IT architecture and why do we need it?
The IT strategy specifies the basic company strategy and performs such tasks as the complexity of automation, the order of automation, the terms of individual stages, the choice of used products, systems, platforms, and the application, ways of projects implementing projects, etc.
IT architecture can be defined as «the system organization realized in its components. Also, it includes their relationships with each other and the principles that determine its construction and development».
Thus, IT architecture performs such tasks:
- what information/data are critical to the company’s business and how they are organized;
- what applications will support the business;
- whether these applications can effectively interact with each other and with the external systems of partners and suppliers;
- whether the security of the systems is adequate, etc.
Thus, the IT strategy defines the goal and the means of achieving it, and the IT architecture determines how the goal will be achieved.
Nowadays, as digital innovation grows more and more every day, there is a need for a specialist who can analyze the whole process of using digital technology in a company and build a single IT architecture for a company. Therefore, one of the most demanded professions in the future -is a solution architect.
So, who is a solution architect?
A solution architect is a specialist who makes a decision regarding the internal and external structure of the company software package, taking into account design requirements and available resources. His main goal in the company is to provide a solution to business problems using information technologies.
Solution architect’s job description.
So, what does a solution architect do? The solution architect is involved in all stages of the system development, from meeting with customers to final implementation. The solution architect:
- researches the subject area for the implementation and development of application information systems;
- takes part in the interviewing of customers, business experts and users of information systems to examine current process management principles;
- studies and systematizes project documentation;
- prepares technical documents;
- takes part in setting tasks and developing technical specifications;
- collects, analyses and documents software functionality requirements;
- oversees the development;
- takes part in the testing of the developed system prototype;
- analyzes the risks and causes of system design errors.
A solution architect’s role
We have considered who a solution architect is and what he/she does. Now let’s consider a solution architect’s role.
I would start with the words about who is not a solution architect. It is often considered that he or she is the most qualified developer or expert who knows best the technological stack of the project. But it’s not that.
Of course, an architect must be good at the technology of the project and understand what good code is. But he/she also has special functions that the experts do not perform. This specialist forms, documents and communicates about a common technical solution for the entire system.
Difference between traditional and IT architects
To clarify what I mean, let’s take a look at some analogies from other industries. For example, what is the role of an architect in the building sphere?
Let’s look at it from the client’s point of view. As a customer, I’m going to hire an architect in case I want to construct a building. I’m not an expert on such an issue, and I realize that I can’t think of all the details at a professional level.
That’s why I’m gonna request an architect at the very first stage of the project before starting the construction. I have an idea, for example, to build a sports club. And I wonder how my project can be implemented.
Having come to the architect, I expect him to ask me questions like: “What do you want to build? For what purpose? Who will be going in for sport there? What kind of it?”.
That’s how an expert finds out the key requirements. After that he/she develops the concept of the solution and sketches of future construction. Then he/she gives the decision to the customer to make sure that it’s really what he needs. This is the high-level design of the project.
At this stage, the budget is also being discussed. After the basic concepts agreed, the architect takes to more detailed sketches. For example, he/she draws a pattern of ventilation or wiring.
However, the expert does not know all the standards and nuances, so he involves specialized engineers in the project. Together they create the so-called low-level (i.e., detailed) design of the future construction.
In IT, the distribution of roles is similar. Firstly, a solution architect figures out the customer’s needs. After that, he develops the concept of the software solution. When all this is done, he gives the project to the team leaders for technical implementation.
The key difference is that in IT we work on flexible methodologies. The architect also supports the team, accompanies the project during the implementation stage. This specialist also constantly clarifies the needs and adds new elements to the architecture. It helps the team to solve technical difficulties arising during doing the work.
Thus, the main task of the solution architect is to find optimal solutions. They should be usually simple, convenient, and cheap. Also, they must suit the needs of the customer and the possibilities of the team.
A solution architect must have a holistic view of the whole project. He or she also must define how the project will be divided into modules. Moreover, it’s crucial to define how these modules will interact with each other.
Solution architect’s responsibilities and duties
- developing the project according to the requirements of the customer;
- defining the application architecture or its evolution;
- choosing technology for each component;
- choosing the means of interaction between components;
- creation of a working prototype;
- design the application interfaces and components;
- selection or design of the frameworks;
- analysis and correction of productivity problems;
- writing and support of coding standards;
- coordination the architecture over the subsequent software life cycle;
- training and consultation of the programmers.
The solution architect’s main responsibility is the right foundation and strong solutions.
The solution architect is responsible for how the project is technically carried out within current resources. Besides, the architect is expected to have a deep understanding of the subject area of business.
It is also essential to have knowledge of the main standards and trends related to a product that’s gonna be developed.
One more feature of the solution architect job is to find compromises. Each project has a great number of stakeholders. For instance, a customer is interested in solving the problem with the expenses.
Top management is interested in the maximum profit. Project management is interested in the timely and qualitative execution of the project. The members of the project team are interested in comfortable work without pressure.
Each of them has interests in the project, and each of them presents requirements, and wishes.
Usually, everyone speaks their language (technical or business language). Everyone understands and perceives arguments from their own area. That’s why we have some misunderstanding in the work from time to time.
An architect must gather a general picture of the requirements and limits of all these people. He or she also needs to ensure effective communication between them. And after that, an architect can develop solutions that meet the maximum number of requirements of each.
So an architect is a specialist who knows the possibilities of different technologies. The main duties of this specialist are to set requirements either for the whole project or the components. He or she should be able to assess the risks concerning the chooses they make.
What technical background and skills should a solution architect possess?
Solutions architect job requires great experience in systems design and implementation, knowledge of technologies and tools, and creativity in every new project. That is why a solution architect must have both basic skills and personal qualities.
A solution architect will not be able to advise or explain any solution if he does not have sufficient technical knowledge of the project. This includes the understanding of all the technical disciplines involved in the design.
That is, the solution architect must have experience in software development, information systems, as well as their maintenance and the design of the software structure.
The role of a solution architect is to ensure terms. That is why he should be able to explain clearly the technical aspects, risks, problems, and benefits of each solution.
Focus on details
A solution architect is a person who should pay the most attention to details because they determine the possible risks.
A solution architect should understand how different parts of the business are connected, analyze the company’s business processes and prepare documentation for the project (technical tasks, regulations, instructions).
A solution architect works with a great number of stakeholders, who have their goals and requirements. Therefore, a solution architect needs the ability to communicate with customers, advise and explain all the processes, negotiate and exert positive impact.
A solution architect should be full of new ideas to implement each new project.
It is not enough for a solution architect to have university knowledge. Therefore, the specificity of the solution of an architect’s job implies constant education and development. It is important to know not only how new solutions work, but also to develop himself in other directions.
A solution architect must properly organize and constantly supervise the work of all team leaders to implement the ideal project in time.
Pros and cons of a solution architect’s job
Any job or profession has its pros and cons. Let’s consider the pros and cons of a solution architect’s job.
- open access to new technologies and ideas;
- impact on the design process and the fate of the project;
- the solution of global and complex engineering problems that make the world of technology better
- great responsibility for each decision, because the cost of an architect’s error is higher than the cost of another technician’s error on the project;
- increase in management burden;
- frequent meetings;
- the necessity to work primarily with someone else’s code, not one’s own.
The typical working day of a solution architect
If you read this paragraph, I suppose you’re interested in this job. So, if you’re interested in this job, you will wonder about the solution architect’s typical working day. It suggests:
- participation in group planning and meetings with the client;
- consulting the team on current issues;
- design and writing the technical documentation;
- studying of new technologies;
- working with project code, prototyping, and optimization.
How to make a solution architect’s career?
Every solution architect once started as a system administrator, developer, or engineer. If you’ve focused on specific systems before, now you should start looking at a wide range of hardware solutions.
First, find or come up with a large and interesting project that combines many technical solutions. Define its goals, tasks, quality assessment criteria, and the method of how you tell others about it. If this process you were still interested in, you’re halfway to a new job!
To my mind, the solution architect is a very experienced IT specialist who is building his career path from scratch.
So, let’s summarize all my words written above. A solution architect’s job uploads “the technical brain” in a good way. The main thing is that it allows expressing your creativity, to communicate with professionals and “big bosses”, and even earn the respect of colleagues. Why? Because they are in the same boat with you on a complicated project.
If after reading this article your heart beats faster, this job is exactly for you.
The main thing is to show initiative, be interested in “software”. Also, use this knowledge in the design of complex computing systems. Because the whole modern world lies behind them!
Besides, when you are looking for a front-developer with deep hard and soft skills, you may turn to our company AVA codes. We will provide a really good offer for you.
Also, if you need some more useful content, please, follow this link to read all the articles I have.
Stay safe and have a nice and productive day!