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
A 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.
A solution architect is a technical architect who designs and implements the technical blueprint of a solution. He is responsible for ensuring that all layers of the software are in alignment with the business requirements and strategic direction.
The solution architect plays an important role in defining what problem needs to be solved, how it should be solved, and who will do it. It's critical that these decisions are made by an experienced person who can make well-informed decisions based on multiple factors such as cost, time frame constraints, technology dependencies, etc.
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 range 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.
What are the responsibilities of a solution architect?
A solution architect is responsible for the definition, planning and implementation of a solution. They should be able to define the problem before starting on a solution. The solution architect must also have a clear goal in mind before he starts working on his project.
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 of a solution architect:
- 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
- Anticipation of possible problems and bottlenecks in architecture, their elimination, and minimization of negative consequences
- Cooperation with the project management and development team
What does a solution architect do at each stage of the SDLC?
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.
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.
Enterprise Architect Vs. Technical Architect Vs. Solutions 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 in building enterprise architecture for each application.
Enterprise architects work with many stakeholders including business units, IT departments and other areas of the organization to ensure that they are all working towards the same goals.
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.
The main difference between a technical architect and a solution architect in these two roles is that the technical architect is focused on the technical aspects of software systems, applications, and infrastructure. The solution architect, on the other hand, is focused on the business needs of an organization. Their primary job is to make sure that the solution being developed will meet all of those requirements while also ensuring that it is efficient and cost-effective.
Technical architects work closely with the development teams and often work with other enterprise architects to ensure that their solutions meet larger business needs.
A solution architect is a more hands-on role. They take business requirements and transform them into new software solutions using the latest technology.
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 in different companies, they may differ, and even have a different names.
Solutions Architects combine business, technology, and user experience skills to develop end-to-end solutions that meet the needs of both the business and its customers. While enterprise and technical architects focus on specific parts of the organization.
How do you become a solution architect?
The best way to become a solution architect is by gaining experience in the field. It’s important to learn how different technologies interact with each other, understand their limitations, and understand what works well together. You can write your own blog, contribute to open-source projects or start building something yourself. You can also take courses to complement your experience.
There are many options available online and in person, including free courses from leading universities like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford. The more experience you have, the better. But if you don’t have any experience, don’t worry. There are other ways to learn about technology and its applications in different industries. For example, if you want to become a solution architect for healthcare organizations, look at how they use their systems and what their limitations are.
Does the solution architect do coding?
The short answer is no. A solution architect does not need to be a developer or a coder to do their job, but they do need to have some technical knowledge and skills. In general, solution architects design solutions that can be implemented by developers and coders. If you are interested in becoming a solution architect, it’s best to begin learning how to code so that you can understand what other development professionals are doing when they build your company’s products.
What are the essential skills of a solutions architect?
The first skill a solutions architect needs to possess is the ability to think critically and creatively. Solutions architects are tasked with coming up with innovative ways of solving problems, which means that they must be able to look at situations from many different angles and come up with unique solutions that have never been tried before.
Some necessary skills for a solution 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
The main indicator of the quality of work solutions architect
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
As a solution architect, you can expect to make a very good income. The average salary for a solution architect in the United States is $100,000 per year and those with extensive experience can earn up to $250,000 annually. If you are thinking about moving into this career field, then it is important that you research how much money other people are making in cities across the United States before deciding which city to settle down in.
The highest paying cities include:
- San Francisco at an average salary of $130k/year;
- New York City at $127k/year;
- Boston at $124k/year;
- Los Angeles at 121k/year;
- San Jose, California at 117k/year;
- Washington D.C., 114k/year;
- Chicago and Seattle both come in around 100K on average.
As you can see, being a solution architect is quite challenging. In fact, it's one of the most difficult roles in IT because you have to be able to understand both business requirements and technical aspects well. Your job as a solution architect is to design the best possible way to solve your client's problem by designing a blueprint that meets their requirements while considering all technical factors. In order to do this well, you need good communication skills and creativity.
In order for any business project or system to succeed, it needs an effective team which includes good project management skills and coordination between developers, testers and other stakeholders involved in building software-based solutions. This is why companies hire solution architects who play an important role in coordinating all efforts toward achieving success for their clients' projects by providing design guidance on how best go about solving their problems using software technology solutions like web applications or mobile apps built using frameworks like iOS Swift/Xcode 8 (iOS 8) etc...