Different types of architects

Architect defines the architecture. Broadly the architects are divided into the technical and business architects. The business architect are focused on the economical change of the market and devise  a set of  business process  for enterprise or systems adaption and to attain enterprise or system’s mission and vision.  The technical architects are  focused on implementation of the business architecture defined to meet enterprise’s or system’s mission and vision.

The technical architects are broadly divided into

    System/Product architect
    Domain Architect
    Solution Architect
    Applied Architect
    Enterprise architect

Based on the architect characteristics, the types of technical architects shall be divided into the generalist and specialist. The specialist focus on one specific area and the knowledge acquired and possessed by the architect is deep. Where as the generalist, knowledge acquired and possessed in a set of areas is broad.
System/product Architect

System/Product architect are the generalist, responsible for the cohesive architecture solution of the system or product. They have equal strength in the both technical and business area. Plays a vital role to bring all the stake holders together and ensure all the stake holders concern’s are captured methodologically, formally documented and validated. Assist the project manager to make the management decision and makes key technical decision for the project/system/product. Brings all the technical architects, development teams, system analyst, and support teams together to ensure the cohesive architecture is defined to meet the stake holders concern and ensures the defined architecture is implemented. The system architecture validation is done by using the user case scenarios. +1 view of the architecture. The architecture verification is done through reviews.

Domain Architect

Domain architects are the specialist, responsible for the architecture solution for that domain. The domain architect is an abstract definition and there are various domain architects. The domain architects specific to the web development projects are

  • Application architect
  • Data architect
  • Information architect
  • Integration architect
  • Security architect
  • IT Process architect
  • Infrastructure architect
    • Network architect
    • Server architect
    • Web run time architect

Solution Architect

Solution architecture team is the set of specialist working together to research and seek solutions for a specific problem.

Applied Architect

Applied architects are match makers. The applied architects have the known set of problems, solution and context. The architectural patterns are applied to the system or product. The architectural patterns includes to the process solution or methodology for the implementation and its style.

Enterprise Architect

Enterprise architect are responsible for defining the holistic architecture solution for the entire enterprise.

How to become an enterprise architect ?

For past few years, quite a few employees, contractors, consultants, right sourcing consultants in the organization asked me this question, what they should do to work for me? In other words, how they could become an enterprise architect. Generally, when someone has this question in the organization, I asked them to schedule a mentoring meeting and try to understand what they want to do and how their aspiration and ambition fits into an enterprise architect’s requirement and coach them accordingly. When this questions became a frequently asked question to me, I decided to document the state transition diagram for an enterprise architect and started providing it to whom ever wants to become an enterprise architect.

I believe this has a value to anyone who wants to become an enterprise architect. This state transition is an ideal road map to become an enterprise architect. When I attended a Gartner conference recently, I informally bounced this idea with fellow enterprise architecture managers, chief architects, chief strategist and most of them agreed that this is the ideal road map for developing enterprise architect talent in an organization.

Software system architecture definition model

Consistency and repeatability in the architecture definition process is a must have requirement in an organization. It is like parents teaching some moral lessons to the kids. Kids will watch the parents if parents do practice what they teach them. If parents does not practice what they teach the kids, the kids are not going to buy-in to the parent’s teaching. Same situation with the architects. Architects emphasis and promote consistency, repeatability, efficiency and etc to the project team and if they do not practice those imperatives in their process and work product, it is going to be a hard sell for them.

Picture speaks more than thousand words. The above diagram illustrates a model, software system architects would follow to define the architecture blue print. The architect’s tool box are the knowledge gained through the internal process, individual experience, continuous improvement. The reference model and pattern catalog provides a framework for repeatability in the architecture definition process and in return implements those imperatives in the end product of the process. ie. software system architecture blueprint.

Genchi Genbutsu for Enterprise Architects & Strategists

There are at least two school of thoughts for enterprise architecture.

  • Law maker approach
  • Do what makes sense and do the right thing approach

Law maker approach

I had witnessed the first approach in the past. I was not playing an enterprise architect manager nor enterprise architect role at that time. Watched from the side line and it is better to learn the mistakes from others. The law maker approach is to come up with all the standards, road maps, patterns,etc and it is up to the civilian (rest of the organization) to abide to the law. If the civilian did not follow the law, then civilian violated the law and if civilian assess the law is inappropriate then an appeal can be made to the enterprise architects and they reevaluate the standards or patterns. I do not believe in this approach. This will create the EA as the special group or ivory tower team makes decision but never will have clear picture on implementation and lack details on the value generated to the organization.
Do what makes sense and do the right thing approach

I love this approach. Not just for IT strategy nor EA. I love this approach for any role. For the Enterprise Architects, this approach is the apt approach to fetch value to the organization.

Factual Data —> Analysis + Intuition = Solution

The above concept applies to any management consultant. Boutique management consultant firms (like Boston Consulting Group, BCG) when they get engaged with a client, they work on very interesting problems like “why WALL-E (a movie recently released by Walt Disney) did not exceed the expectations?” and for this kind of consultation, they need factual data, quantitative analysis and apply intuition to derive the solution.

Enterprise Architects are the management consultants with stronger technical knowledge. To add value to the organization EA need to get the factual data, quantitative analysis, intuition and come up with road maps, IT investment management framework, patterns, compliance, etc.

To get the factual data EA needs to understand the end to end business life cycle. For example, if an organization is financial service organization, then EAs need to personally visit contact centers, customer services centers, business centers, dealership, zone offices etc. If possible, at least for a day, they need to play the appropriate roles in each centers. (Like be a credit analyst, customer service agent, call center agent, collection agent, repossessing agent etc) Get a loan or lease product from the same financial service company and be a real customer and use the web sites as the customer. Experience gained during this visits, role plays, interviews and etc provides EA (and IT strategist) an edge to come up with realistic strategic plan for the organization which will have a direct positive impact to the bottom line of the core business.