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Solutions architecture learning guide

The need to understand solutions architecture is increasing as 'solutions architect' becomes a popular IT title in more and more organizations.

Talk of solutions architecture is increasing, and the role of the solutions architect is coming to the fore. As one might guess from the name, solutions architects are similar to the familiar roles of enterprise and SOA architects. However, solutions architecture is more about specific projects or initiatives than about ensuring interoperability between projects. The solutions architect leverages all the tools and design principles delivered by enterprise and SOA architects to make each solution a success within the larger framework.

Solutions architecture today

According to Mike Rosen, chief scientist at Wilton Consulting Group, the definition for solutions architecture is still emerging, but it generally refers to the process and art of developing solutions that fit within the enterprise architecture in terms of systems portfolios, information architecture, integration requirements and so on.

The solutions architect's focus is narrow enough to manage fine-grained tactical initiatives but broad enough to require multiple approaches. The skills needed to be a successful solutions architect vary from project to project and from organization to organization but usually require being able to solve a given problem with a given set of resources in a given amount of time.

The difference between enterprise architecture and solutions architecture

To Graham Berrisford, who has served as both an enterprise architect and a solutions architect, enterprise architecture and solutions architecture are primarily differentiated by the scope of their focus. While enterprise architects take a strategic approach to optimizing the interplay between a large number of systems or applications within an enterprise portfolio, solutions architects take a deep, tactical approach to a narrower band of applications.

Rob Daigneau, the principal solutions architect at ArcSage LLC, defines the role of the solutions architect as an extension of the software architect's role. Taking an Agile view, Daigneau feels all developers should have some architectural training and input, but usually one or two senior architects take on most of the architectural guidance responsibilities. These individuals are identified as the solutions architects and enterprise architects.

Solutions architecture best practices

Rosen says, "The solutions architect really has to understand the principle of 'good enough is good enough.'" Like all architects, solutions architects rely on certain fundamental principles for a successful project, including the separation of concerns, abstraction and the ability to create conceptual models and formal specifications.

But, solutions architects must also understand how company systems, applications and requirements work together. They must find the most appropriate industry patterns and standards for each solution. They need a background in the subject matter and a wealth of experience applicable to the project at hand. Most important, solutions architects must solve problems on deadline and on budget.

This was last published in September 2012

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Does your organization employ a solutions architect?
For selction of correct software as per business requirment + Market evolution
hi, I am persuing my career as a networking Engineer, taking care of the LAN and Wan infrastructure in my company. But I am looking forward to become the SA in long run.
Kindly guide me how to archive my goal..........I want to SA with respect to networking Domain
Yes we do...lot of them
AnonymousUser2014 - what kind of projects do they work on? Where are they most valuable?
Yes we do. I am new to that role in our organization, so I am no expert in what the role should be. But I am clear about my place relative to other roles. Our enterprise, infrastructure, and security architects  set broad directions in technology and approach to fit our organization. My role is to try to align the projects I serve with these central standards, and engage them in constructive dialog when it appears the standards do not fit.  I see my role with respect to developers and other delivery team members as providing facilitation, leadership, and collaboration to ensure the best design. I feel it's important to tailor my style to the situation. I would not presume to tell seasoned designers how to design. I would simply join them as a partner in collaboration, offering ideas as an equal. In contrast, I would never leave a group of inexperienced developers to flounder. I would educate them on common approaches I've known to work, and encourage them to take appropriate risks to learn and grow through controlled failure. In either case, I can hold people accountable for conforming to our core standards (e.g. security, testing) without taking unnecessary control of their design process and stifling their creativity. In my role, even if I'm not smarter or more experienced than the others, I have a unique perspective due to the level at which I focus, and I can see it is a useful contribution to the overall team.
My company created this role several years ago.  I am new to the role now for a couple of months and looking for any type of training or other user groups that might assist me in my role moving forward.  Anyone have any advise?
Solution Architects are fundamental in our delivery processes. It is challenging job, sometimes being caught between a rock and a hard place, between the short-term, budget capped project restrictions and the strategic demands of enterprise architecture
Spoke with the Solutions Architect in the elevator just today about Oauth.
We have for our TLA project. He is part time
We do
Well written and really provides a good insight on solutions architecture.
Solution Architect is a key role.
We use
how do wee train for this and what are the practical skills required.
We have COE FOR solution architects.
Where does one begin to obtain the skills and tools to become an SA?
Yes we do, but with us we have a Network Solutions Architect thus looking at problems from a Network & Infrastructure perspective.