Software development

Digital strategies for business growth: the role of the Solutions Architect

The Solutions Architect determines how to leverage technology in service of the business: what skills must he possess?

Today, we’ll delve into the role of the Solutions Architect (SA), another invaluable figure for the digital development of a company.

The primary responsibility of the Solutions Architect is to assess a company’s business needs and determine how the IT department can meet those needs, be it in terms of software, hardware, or infrastructure.

First and foremost, it’s essential to differentiate between the solutions architect focusing on infrastructure and the one finding solutions for software.

Infrastructure SA and software SA: what do they have in common?

While the nature of the Solutions Architect role inherently requires a broad base of knowledge, the range and areas of solutions today are so vast that it’s challenging for one to be an expert in every single domain, from A (infrastructure) to Z (software development). Hence, we often see SAs with a specialization leaning either more towards infrastructure or towards software production.

However, both roles share the common need to be proficient with cloud services (like AWS, Azure, etc.), a direction the market has been taking for years now.

Another indispensable knowledge for any solutions architect is the ability to identify business needs and processes (ideally in conjunction with the Business Analyst), coupled with the creative skill to propose the most suitable IT solutions to support the company.

One of the hallmark traits of a SA is to be creative, curious, and passionate about technology in all its forms. He must also be equipped with discernment, meaning the ability to accurately assess the current state of the environment for which he is tasked to propose solutions.

Lastly, he must possess practical sense and avoid flights of fancy and solutions that may prove unrealistic or unfeasible. In this regard, adopting a lean approach helps, meaning the ability to optimize processes by simplifying them and removing anything that doesn’t add value. Typically, a solutions architect won’t push for an abundance of systems but will lean towards using existing ones where possible. He will seek to consolidate various processes into the fewest possible systems.

At the foundation of every solution proposed, there must be a focus on security, or cyber security as it’s referred to today. 

The skills of a Solution Architect

If we were to graphically represent the two roles of the solutions architect focusing on infrastructure and software, while also embracing the concept of security, the following illustration could assist us:

The infrastructure itself falls under the purview of the SA specializing in infrastructure, including doors and windows, which represent the aspect of security; the machinery and people inside, however, fall within the expertise of the SA focused on software: systems can’t function without infrastructure, just as infrastructure without systems proves useless.

To give a practical example of the difference between the two roles, an infrastructure SA is typically able to install and configure a database system in “high availability” and “redundancy”; while a software SA knows how to structure the tables and other entities of the system to optimize their performance, as well as choose which type of database is more appropriate (relational or not).

A software SA, in particular, might have a more or less extensive knowledge of programming languages that allow him to present PoC (proof of concept) that the development team will later refine.

Beyond digital

The education required for a SA rarely ends with formal schooling, whether it’s university-based or not; it’s further developed through on-the-ground experience and the ability to add new knowledge and technological perspectives, driven by the inherent curiosity of his mindset.

As is always the case at Hermes, the aspect of relationships is essential for a solutions architect. In particular, he must possess excellent communication and leadership skills, as well as the ability to mediate between stakeholders, product owners, and the development team.

At Hermes, we place great importance on the relational aspect in general, and even more so when it comes to this key role. His multifaceted nature is reflected in our ability to be messengers of technology: who better than a solutions architect to embody this vision?The mission of our talents is inseparable from their passion, curiosity and speed of execution, as well as always knowing which message to convey in every situation.

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