Solution Architect: What Do They Do? A Complete Guide
Solution architect, role, skillset, responsibilities, and outcomes. Complete guide on what a solution architect does, and their skills, salary, and more.
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What Is Solution Architecture?
According to Wikipedia: Solution architecture is a description of a discrete and focused business operation or activity and how IS/IT supports that operation.
Good and well-considered architecture is essential for the effective development of any software. The correct architectural solution makes it possible to scale the product at minimal cost and painlessly for an existing product and customers. Simply put, this is the foundation of the product on which the long-term success of any project depends. Solution architecture is oriented on specific business problems of the company and serves to achieve business goals.
What Is the Role of a Solution Architect In IT Companies?
A solution architect is responsible for the design, development, and evolution of the architectural solution of a product or ecosystem of a company's products. Thus this role requests a wide-ranging of skills. The developed solution should guarantee compatibility with existing business logic and products.
A solution architect is working closely with a variety of professionals and teams within the company to deliver the ultimate flexible, extensible, and workable product. He must know how the architecture of each module of the system is arranged, how each element of the project works, and how everything is interconnected into a single ecosystem.
Enterprise Architect vs Technical Architect vs Solutions Architect
In the information technology industry, there are 3 different roles associated with architecture. These roles are extremely important:
- Enterprise architect
- Technical architect
- Solution architect
The enterprise architect is responsible for overseeing the entire corporate ecosystem of the company. Enterprise architects focus on creating and managing end-to-end solutions that address the company's critical strategic issues.
The overall goal of an architect is to ensure a smooth development lifecycle and efficient use of available resources building enterprise architecture for each application.
A technical architect primarily oversees software architecture, technical development, and implementation technology. Their main task is to provide technical guidance and make decisions about the most important parts of the system being developed.
They work closely with the development teams to agree on IT strategies and describe the practices to be followed throughout the project. The main difference between a technical architect and a solution architect in these two roles is that the former focuses primarily on the engineering side.
A solution architect is a more hands-on role. They take business requirements and transform them into new software solutions using the latest technology from the company.
It is important to note that all of the architectural roles described are highly intertwined, and in a number of companies they can be combined under two or even one position. At the moment, there is no clear generally accepted division of responsibilities for the roles of architects, so indifferent companies, may differ and even have a different name.
What Does a Solutions Architect Do?
The work of a solution architect begins with the very first stage of product development, which is to formulate business goals and design the software architecture. He must clearly understand business processes, target audience, plans for future development, and possible integrations with existing products and, in general, with the company's IT ecosystem. The solution architect works very closely with the product manager, and in some teams, these roles may even be combined in one person. In other situations, the architect is more responsible for the engineering side of the issue. We will consider possible options later in this article.
The solution architect is also responsible for making the final decision on a number of technical issues regarding product development - technology stack, programming languages, frameworks, infrastructure, and security solutions applied.
The solution architect is a key role throughout the Software Development Life Cycle and its importance only increases at the stages of product support and scaling.
What Are the Essential Skills of a Solutions Architect?
- Technical background
- Experience in software engineering
- Experience in the IT industry in the development of digital infrastructures
- Good understanding and experience in systems architecture development
- Outstanding analytical mind
- Excellent communication skills
- Project, resource, and risk management skills
- Leadership skills
- Master's or Ph.D. degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering preferred
- Current understanding of best practices regarding digital security measures
- Advanced understanding of business analysis techniques and processes
What Are the Responsibilities?
A solutions architect position primarily focuses on solution-level decisions and analysis of their impact on the overall business goals and their outcomes. In practice, the responsibility of a solution architect depends on the business processes in a particular company. Some basic responsibilities:
- Analysis and decomposition of the company's business processes, description of business logic, translation of client requirements into terms of product requirements, as well as building a product development roadmap.
- Analysis and research of technologies to select the most promising for product development and integrations with existing infrastructure.
- Assessing the overall technology environment.
- Development of architectural solutions.
- General control over the development progress.
- Management of resources, projects, people.
- The anticipation of possible problems and bottlenecks in architecture, their elimination, and minimization of negative consequences.
- Cooperation with the project management and development team.
The main indicator of the quality of work of a good solution architect is the stability of the IT infrastructure and the speed with which it can adapt to the ever-changing business requirements of the market.
Concerning practice deliverables of the architect's work is important to mention that he draws up a plan for the development of the company's products and ecosystem, a description of the architecture of solutions, and regulations for the development and maintenance of systems. You can read some details about the components of architecture development in our article on the product design stage.
Solutions Architect Salaries in the United States
According to Linkedin's research, the average salary for Solutions Architect IT professionals in the US is $ 80K - $ 172K dollars per year.
Published at DZone with permission of Hossein Fakhr. See the original article here.
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