Enterprise Architect vs Solutions Architect vs Infrastructure Architect vs Technical Architect.
The term Architect is thrown around very easily within IT departments these days. While it is already hard enough to explain to someone outside of IT what your job role involves, a lot of people within IT departments including senior management don’t understand the different type of architect roles that can exist within large enterprise IT environments.
After recently studying for TOGAF certification, I realised that I couldn’t find a conclusive definition for these vastly different IT architect roles, so I thought that I would write a quick post on my understanding and summary of the different roles based on my experience within organisations and several online sources that I list below.
I propose the an Enterprise Architect (EA) is a planning role that is responsible for identifying the future state of an organization’s IT environment and engage wherever and whomever necessary to help guide project teams to deliver toward it. To date I haven’t seen any other titles for this role. An EA would ensure IT investments are aligned with business strategy. As well as a close relationship with the business and vendors, the role has high interaction with the CIO and in smaller organisations this role may not exist as the function is performed as part of the CIO’s role. Responsible for strategic thinking, roadmaps, principles and governance of the entire enterprise.
I propose that a Solutions Architect (SA) focuses on delivery of a particular solution. In some organisations I have seen this role be tied to developing software based solutions, however I think this is not a correct job description. The solution architect is responsible for implementing a strategic IT program within the framework laid down by the enterprise architecture (EA) team. From the diagram below you can see that they sit somewhere between the EA and the TA in terms of technology vs strategic focus.
The technical architect is usually a technology specialist in a particular technology or group of inter-related technologies. I have seen job titles vary for this role and they may also include Infrastructure Architect, Domain Architect, Application Architect, Network Architect, Security Architect.
Of course there are hybrids of these roles to suit particular organisations, a recent example that pops into my mind was a Infrastructure Solution Architect role who’s accountabilities were somewhere between a Solutions Architect and a Technical Architect.
I’m happy for people to comment and add their observations. I’m not claiming that this a 100% accurate description of the roles as they can vary from organisation to organisation (especially in services organisations vs inhouse IT departments) however this is a good guide based on my knowledge of the industry.
My online resources for this summary include: