Sunday, March 29, 2015

The roles of the IT Architect

If you read across the different references, magazines, forums, groups, etc. (online or otherwise) that discuss Information Technology Architecture you will find their are many different IT Architect roles. Off the top of my head I can name 10 different architect roles, they are;
  1. Business Architect
  2. Information Architect
  3. Infrastructure Architect
  4. Database Architect
  5. Security Architect
  6. Software Architect
  7. Component Architect
  8. Application Architect
  9. Solution Architect
  10. Enterprise Architect
Surprisingly, these 10 distinct architect roles have little overlap. With the exception of software and application architects they each need a different, yet similar, set of skills and knowledge. I see there being three themes of architecture; development (as in software development), infrastructure (as in building and deploying the infrastructure to support the software), and alignment (as in aligning with the business and information needs, and supporting the business strategy).

I believe the different architect roles fall into these three themes in the following ways;

Development Theme (responsible for designing, building, selecting, and implementing software solutions).
  1. Component Architect - designs a specific and specialized software component, needs to ensure it aligns with application architecture.
  2. Application Architect (same as Software Architect) - designs (and extends) the specific application to fit the project specifications
  3. Solution Architect - understands the extended environment for where and how the application needs to exists. Designs for how application will integrate with greater whole.
  4. Enterprise Architect - sets the technical standards and governance for the overall organization. Ensures all new solutions integrate well with organization and makes final call to technical solution environment.

Infrastructure Theme (responsible for designing, selecting, acquiring, configuring, advocating for, and implementing networking, server, security, and storage infrastructure).
  1. Database Architect - designs, develops, governs and integrates database technologies. Works closely with development architects.
  2. Security Architect - all things security (physical, technical, virtual, and otherwise)
  3. Infrastructure Architect - all things infrastructure!
Alignment Theme (work with other architects and business stakeholders to ensure technology is aligned with business strategy).
  1. Business Architect - works toward common understanding to bring alignment with business strategy and tactical plans. Seeks continuous improvement for the business, often using technology.
  2. Information Architect - looks to bring alignment across information; whether this be branding and usability or how information and knowledge is stored and found within the organization. 
  3. Enterprise Architect - The enterprise architect also has much to contribute within the alignment theme. This mostly occurs with governance and to ensure technology aligns with the business.
What I find most interesting is how the enterprise architect needs to have solid relationships with most all other architect roles. And often they will facilitate discussions among all roles to bring together the most effective and broad solution to meet both business and technical needs.