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Architects – Solution, System Integration and Platform

What do they do? Not all Architects are the same. Understand the roles of different Architects in tech. 

The Solution, System Integrator or Platform? We are talking about architects. These roles are fast-changing thus very often – interchangeable.  

In this article, we will talk about these roles and what duties they perform, where they excel and who to choose to perform a certain task.

Solution Architect

Solution Architects, present the full landscape view/scope of a solution with enough detail to satisfy the range of stakeholders involved. Solution architects are focused on managing ongoing projects and activities, analyzing the consistency of the solution, requirements implementation, and other operations within the project. Often, solution architects get assigned to technology risks while Platform architects are responsible for implementation. The risks assigned to solution architects may include unclear requirements, untested innovative stacks, etc. The roles taken by solution architecture specialists are much similar to those taken by project managers. 

Solution Architects captures the technical solution within the architecture repository for effective knowledge management purposes. The technical solution is also captured using appropriate tools to provide interactive and communication activities with stakeholders. Analysing, challenging and translating business/functional/non-functional requirements into a coherent solution or a range of solution options is very important.

Their core functions include:

  • Conceptual Architecture
  • Concept Options Scope
  • Conceptual Solution Options
  • T-Shirt Sizing
  • Business Proposals
  • Key Design Decisions (Tactical, Strategic, Hybrid) and architecture repository 
  • Measuring regret spent
  • Design Forums
  • Design Workshops

The key outputs produced by Solution Architect are:

  • Proof of Concepts
  • Solution landscape View
  • Conceptual Architecture
  • Logical Architecture
  • Physical Architecture
  • Security Architecture
  • Interface Designs
  • Interface Catalogue
  • Non-functional and performance requirements 
  • Monitoring and Recovery
  • Pilot or Trial Design

System Integration Architect

System Integration Architect defines, as the fundamental and unifying system structure defined in terms of system elements, interfaces, processes, constraints, and behaviours.

A system architect, not only knows about the individual components but also understands the inter-relationships among the components and creates sophisticated IT systems.

Their core functions include:

  • Definition of Systems Requirements
  • Define Interface Design
  • Define policies according to which these subsystems interact
  • Defines Infrastructure Capacity Requirements 
  • Defines Platform Capacity Requirements
  • Migration Design
  • Cut-off planning
  • Handover planning
  • Team liaising

Platform Architect

Platform Architects, also known as Technical Architects use hands-on approaches in architecture development to provide technical leadership within the project lifecycle. Usually, they are named in accordance with the technology they are qualified in, for example, a Java Architect, .NET Architect, Python Architect, etc.

Their core functions include:

  • Infrastructure Capacity Requirements 
  • Infrastructure Capacity Planning
  • Infrastructure Design  
  • Platform Capacity Requirements
  • Platform Capacity Planning
  • Platform Resilience requirements
  • Platform Design

To understand the differences between these three architecture roles, a diagram illustrating the framework contrasting solution architect vs platform architect vs system integration architect. In the diagram, the roles of architects are explained: life cycle disciplines, levels of detail, and focus. The diagram uses three-dimensional plain and the first dimension includes a set of activities performed on a particular stage of SDLC (stakeholders involvement, software requirements, and specification engineering, architecture design, implementation, maintenance, etc.). The second dimension combines different information needed to perform the responsibilities of the role. The third dimension is all about different workstreams within the company.

According to this diagram, platform architects are aimed at realizing particular technical implementation processes. However, they can be also involved in the entire solution life cycle but rarely. They are responsible for the project delivery and leadership for developers in terms of technology. Platform architects are usually occupied with one technology and are named accordingly.

Solution architects ensure product consistency. They are responsible for the activities related to the requirements capture, concept design, implementation, maintenance. They work across wide range technologies and work with one of more platform architects to envisage, design and deliver their solutions. Their goal is to keep their solutions aligned with the enterprise guidelines (strategic direction of the company) and find & report gaps in the organizational capabilities. It will be right to say that Solution architects work longest in the project life cycle and take more responsibilities on delivering the end to end solutions with a blend of strategic and tactical solutions for the business problems.

System Integration Architects deal with architectural implementation across various different technical teams. The more involved in the delivery of the physical design, systems requirements, interface design, interface repository, delivery of non-functional design, migration and cut-off planning.

To conclude, the terms used in the article can be quite confusing as well as their meanings. That is the reason why so many people, especially those who are new to the IT industry, confuse those and use wrong notions to express what they mean. At nugon, we understand the nuances of architecture and help companies create a resilient IT infrastructure framework. Feel free to reach us to know how we can help improve your IT Architecture.

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