Solution Architect Definition
The formal definition of solution architecture, as provided by Gartner (2013), is as follows:
A solution architecture (SA) is an architectural description of a specific solution. SAs [Solution Architects] combine guidance from different enterprise architecture viewpoints (business, information and technical), as well as from the enterprise solution architecture (ESA). (Source)
To put it into simple terms, solution architects transform business, information and technical requirements into a solution, and then describe that solution architecturally. In order to perform this job, solution architects need to be well-versed in both the context of the enterprise and the details of technical design & implementation.
So, these are the people who are in charge of describing and managing a technical vision on how to solve business problems.
How are Solution Architects Different from Other Types of Architects?
Solution Architects lie somewhere in between Enterprise Architects and Software Architects, in terms of their roles and responsibilities. We can even think of Solution Architects as “communication bridges” between the two.
- Enterprise Architects are responsible for creating and managing the strategy of some technical implementation. They usually have a high-level view of the problem and the way to solve it, and are in tight communication with top-level executives. They provide the “what to do” type of advice.
- Software Architects are responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the “what to do”. They know all the nitty-gritty technical details of the ongoing project and determine the exact actions to take in order to fully develop the final product and then maintain it.
- Solution Architects provide the “how to do what needs to be done”. Therefore, they stand somewhere in the middle between the two roles described above. In particular, they are responsible for solution-level decisions and how those can impact the goals of the business.
Unlike the software architect, who focuses just on the technical details of design/implementation, the solution architect will be responsible for:
- actually suggesting the best solution among available alternatives,
- describing the structure of that solution to all stakeholders,
- defining what the requirements are for the chosen solution,
- estimating what the budget should be for the project,
- monitoring the progress of the project, etc.
Detailed Responsibilities of the Solution Architect
According to this source, the following are the exact responsibilities of the SA:
1. analyzing the technology environment,
2. analyzing enterprise specifics,
3. analyzing and documenting requirements,
4. setting the collaboration framework,
5. creating a solution prototype,
6. participating in technology selection,
7. controlling solution development,
8. supporting project management.
There are quite a few certifications one can pursue in order to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a solution architect. You can check these ones out, as a starting point:
Solution Architect: Processes, Role Description, Responsibilities, and Certifications
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