Why The Solution Architect’s Next Act Could Be Their Best One Yet

We’ve written about the merit of having personnel who can come into an IT organization and see the “bigger picture” of what the business is aiming to accomplish overall. From Enterprise Architects to Infrastructure Architects to Solution Architects, such individuals can be tremendous assets for helping companies move beyond short-term technical solutions to engage in better processes and make smarter decisions about their systems.

That said, there’s a lot of conversation happening lately about the changing role of the Solution Architect, with some going so far as to question if Solution Architects will still be with us a few years from now.

Here’s what we mean by that: Imagine that you’re a Solution Architect who has been entrusted to identify the best-in-class technology to implement for the sales team and all the finer details that go with it. It’s a solid, incredibly important role. Yet, lately, you can’t help but notice that certain cloud vendors such as Salesforce are infringing on your territory. Namely, in a cloud-based environment, they seem to have infrastructure and data solutions ready to go, practically right “out of the box.” So what does this development mean exactly for you?

No wonder there’s a great deal of fear among Solution Architects that the cloud is going to make them irrelevant and ultimately phase them out. It’s as if for every time a physical server goes away, it’s assumed a Solution Architect job goes away with it.

Not true. In fact, we firmly believe that we may very well need Solution Architects more than ever.


Why Fight The Cloud When You Can Evolve With It?

Solution Architects may see cloud service providers as a threat to their jobs but the reality is that, rather than dealing with figuring out how to string together a set of technologies, they’ll actually be needed to help integrate cloud components. Yes, cloud providers like Microsoft can offer good building blocks, but do their solutions go far enough for what the organization needs? Not always and not for every situation. With cloud solutions rarely found within a single cloud, there are a variety of cloud services within a hybrid structure that need to communicate with one another consistently and securely.

This is precisely where the Solution Architect has a golden opportunity to evaluate cloud services, in turn enhancing their value to the organization.


Build First, Plan Later? That Can’t Be Good.

When software is put together without the proper, “big picture” solution in mind, the outcome is a far less than a desirable one. First, there’s an excellent chance in such a scenario that the Solution Architect wasn’t involved. That means a critical person wasn’t in place to advise the development team on how to choose the right pieces for the system architecture. As a result, you leave an operations team with a fragile solution on their hands to manage for the long-term, which translates into more people managing it, more bugs and yes, a high amount of dollars to keep the software running.

Now, amid such a predicament, wouldn’t someone like a Solution Architect be critical to ensuring the right cloud-based software is built? After all, without their guidance, what you likely have is a project that will fail or be poorly run at a minimum.

You may recall that in another one of our previous blog posts, we made an analogy about how Solution Architects are as important for planning systems as traditional architects are to the home building process. Think about this for a moment: An architect considers potential elements for the home such as brick, siding and wall structures. However, if you were to trust your contractor to handle that function instead of a true architect, could you really be as certain that the home would be built to code correctly? An iffy proposition to be sure.

The same idea applies here. Without an Enterprise Architect to supply a grand vision on implementation, an Infrastructure Architect to provide specifics on hardware and system connectivity and a Solution Architect to handle software challenges, what kind of foundation is your “house” (the software) truly resting on?

Without the proper architecture, very little will fit well together.


The Future Favors Those Architects Who Can Change Today

Solution Architects are needed in the future and their role will be invaluable in a cloud-based world. However, it’s a future that won’t just be handed to them on a silver platter either.

They will need to put in the essential work required to learn about the cloud and be in sync with the rate of change coming from cloud service providers. With new releases from the likes of AWS and Azure, it’s imperative that today’s Solution Architect stays abreast of any and all changes – or risk becoming stale and outdated very quickly.

At Silent IT, it’s always been our approach that true customization comes from being open to all possible frameworks. Having personnel like Solution Architects on hand to evaluate the path of greatest merit, whether it’s cloud-based or not, will help bring the most value to your organization from here.