What is a Solution Architect? Job Description, Skills, Salaries

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Solution architects are in charge of designing, describing, and maintaining the solution engineering concerning a specific business problem. They lead and introduce the overall technical vision for a particular solution. They find the best tech solutions among all possible to solve the existing business problems. They describe the structure, characteristics, behavior, and other aspects of the software to project stakeholders. Solution architects additionally define features, phases, and solution requirements. They provide specifications according to which the solution is defined, managed, and delivered.

A Solution architect designs one or more applications or services within an organization and is typically part of a solution development team. He or she must have a balanced mix of technical and business skills and work with an enterprise architect for strategic direction. Their primary focus is on making technical decisions regarding the solution and how they impact the business outcomes. The rest of the development team then uses the information to implement the solution.

A solution architect needs significant people and process skills to ensure the success of their project. They are often in front of management, trying to explain a complex problem in layman’s terms. They have to find ways to say the same thing using different words for different audiences. They also need to understand the business processes to create a cohesive vision of a usable product.

Solution Architect Job Description

Solution architects build and integrate information and computer system that meet specific needs. The data typically involves integrating the software and hardware that will fulfill the purpose defined by a customer. They also examine the current system architecture, and work with business and technical staff to recommend solutions that result in a more effective system.

The solution architect becomes involved with a project at the time the computer system analyst is developing requirements. They then remain active throughout the balance of the project. They organize the development efforts. After that, provide motivation and guidance to the entire development team during the system development life cycle. They are ultimately responsible for the vision that underlies the solution and execution of that vision into solution.

A solution architect job description entails:

  • Creating and leading the process of integrating IT systems for it to meet the requirements of an organization
  • Conducting system architecture evaluation and collaborating with project management and IT development team to improve the architecture
  • Evaluating project constrains to find alternatives, alleviate risks, and perform re-engineering if required
  • Updating stakeholders about any issues connected to the architecture
  • Fixing technical issues as they arise
  • Analyzing the business impact that individual technical choices may have on a client’s business processes
  • Supervising and guiding development teams
  • Continuously researching emerging technologies and proposing changes to the existing architecture

Solution Architect Skills

Solution architects may look after the programming, integration, and testing of software systems and associated devices. The process used by a solution architect typically involves selecting the most appropriate technology for a problem, after that balances the architectural concerns of the project with the enterprise’s circumstances.

Solution architect focuses on how to use technology to solve a given business problem. They use a framework platform or tech-stack to create a solution to a project. They are concerned with how an application will look like, what the modules will be and how they interact. They additionally figure out the risk in third-party frameworks/platforms. Solution architects need, therefore, to have excellent technical and soft skills to perform this duty effectively.

The skills required for a solution architect include:

  • Superior communication skills
  • Excellent project and resource management skills
  • In-depth analysis skills
  • Risk identification and management skills
  • Technical background and experience in development
  • Ability to consult management and engineering teams, with technical advice regarding business analysis, project management, IT architecture, infrastructure, cloud development, and software architecture design
  • Excellent analytical skills and the ability to see the connections between layers of business operations
  • Ability to understand how different parts of business operations are connected and how business processes achieve their goals
  • Ability to define the beneficial solutions and the ones which are inefficient for a particular business need

Solution architects have to be business-minded, and identify the most effective solution at every turn for every part of the architecture. They mainly focus on business goals and understand how to archive them in the set timeframe and within the given budget. Solution architects must understand the technical specification of many different software solutions and hardware and perform analyses of varying business layers. They thus have to be proficient and have all the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure their work’s success.

Solution Architect Career Requirements

The roles of a solution architect vary from one organization to another. Solution architects should be keen on details and have excellent skills and knowledge to perform all the tasks effectively. Most employers want a solution architect who has relevant experience to ensure the success of their organization.

Here is a summary of qualifications for a solution architect:

  • A bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or related program
  • At least three years of experience with network administration or information technology systems 
  • Project management and leadership skills
  • Experience developing IT and cloud infrastructure
  • Good understanding of best practices regarding system security measures
  • Experience in software engineering and design architecture
  • Advanced understanding of business analysis techniques and processes
  • Extensive knowledge and experience working with operating systems
  • Professional knowledge working with and analyzing computer hardware and software
  • Sound knowledge of various operating systems and database

In-depth understanding of coding language

Solution Architect Salary

The average salary for a solution architect is $119,000 per annum, according to Pay scale data. According to data from Indeed, the highest paid solution architect is from Boston, MA, with an average salary 28% greater than the average national salary. New York state comes in second with an average wage 26% higher than the average national salary. It is followed by San Jose, CA, with an average salary 25% greater than the national average wage. Austin, TX follows with the average wage 24% higher than the average national salary. Employers pay Solution architects with high level of experience more because they demonstrate excellent skills.

The average salary for a solution architect according to Payscale data is as follows:

Certifications for Solution Architect

Solution architects achieve certification by completing a chosen course and passing an interview by level 2 or level 3 certified architect. Certified solution architects have various experiences that demonstrate their contribution to successful solutions in complex problem covering. The multiple solutions include people, process, technology, management, and involving more than one dimension (products, technologies, services, processes, management, security, governance, etc.). Many solution architect certifications are available, with most of them being vendor-specific, i.e., focused on mastering a specific technology. Some of the vital certificates offered by different organizations include:

  • AWS Certified solution architect
  • Axelos ITIL Master certification
  • CISSP Information systems security Architecture Professional (CISSIP-ISSAP)
  • Dell EMC Proven Professional Cloud Architect Training and Certification.
  • EC Council Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)
  • Red Hat Certified Architect
  • Professional Cloud Solutions Architect Certification
  • Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)
  • Virtualization Council Master Infrastructure Architect Certification

Most of the certification platforms, besides the exam itself, offer training courses, learning materials, and practice tests. However, the solution architect can take the exam without previous preparation. All that is required is an in-depth knowledge of the architecture concepts and principles and vast hands-on experience in the industry. Anyone can learn by doing extensive online research or through industry-based modes of blended learning such as AWS Certification, Cloud Solutions Architect Certification, Salesforce Certification, etc. as mentioned above.

These certifications are intended to validate the skills and expertise of the solution architect. They access their knowledge, abilities, and experience. Hence having one or more credentials proves the expert’s proficiency in specific skills.

Masters Degree for Solution Architect

A master’s in solution architecture is meant to boost the career opportunities of a solution architect. The master’s degree impacts solution architects with in-depth knowledge about computer architecture theory, software engineering, and system design. It additionally provides the opportunity to develop leadership and project management skills.

Master certified solution architects create formalized descriptions of solutions to business problems and opportunities. They develop the description through the reasoned application of technologies, people and processes to deliver system capabilities that support the business’s needs successfully. Most employers tend to employ solution architects with a master’s degree. They believe that solution architects with a master’s degree are excellent as they have all the skills to effectively perform the job. Solution architects should strive to enroll in a master’s program to enjoy the job benefits that come from it.

Tools and Software for Solution Architect

Solution architects have several responsibilities. They, therefore, use some tools to effect the duties. Some of the tools used are; conceptual solution architectural model template (CSAM). This template provides an abstract view of the proposed solution and how it meets the proposed business requirements. The physical technology model template (PTM) provides a physical design of the architecture implemented. The PTM includes the supporting infrastructure (network, protocols, etc.), equipment, and supporting software.

The solution architects also use a business relationship model template (BRM). It is a description of the proposed solution relationship with other business entities. They additionally use a physical data model template (PDM). The PDM provides a physical description of how to define, access, archive data, and ownership of the data. The PDM describes the data to implement in the solution. Solutions architects lastly use Logical Technology Model Template (LTM) that provides a non-technology view of the communication and security requirements. These tools require a solution architect to be proficient in handling them to provide successful results. The tools enable solution architects to be accurate and fast in their roles. They are thus very essential in the life of a solution architect.

The Role of Solution Architect in Project Management

Solution architects get a clear vision for a project, and understand clients’ needs. After that, they map out the parts that will constitute the software solution and how they will work together. The solution architects explore the project and lay the outcomes. They begin by choosing the right technology for the business problems. Then manage architectural concerns to ensure more productive and effective results.

The solution architect translates the vision for the project to the development team and plays a pivotal part through the entire system development lifecycle. They are also involved in future updates to the solution. They primarily focus on solution-level decisions and evaluate their impact on a client’s overarching business objectives and outcomes. In most cases, a solution architect ensures that the software solution aligns with a client’s company resources, risk identification, and planning.

A solution architect is a significant person in deciding how the ins and outs of a project are going to work. They are responsible for figuring out the possible way to bring together business needs and technological solutions. Therefore, a solution architect is a must-have for every company that goes for complex solutions beyond a mere WordPress cookie cutter.

Solution architect prepares and presents test plans, technical presentations, lab reports, analyst briefings, plus white papers to respond to different project storage solution areas. They head responsibly for ongoing suggestions, and best practices for complete storage solutions across project continuity, backup, recovery, high availability, and archiving.

Moreover, solution architects collaborate with the IT development team to translate architectural solutions into effectual and robust implementation. They identify customer requirements, analyze alternatives, and conduct product recommendations related to software, platforms, and network configurations.

Solution architects gather functional requirements and specifications from clients and users during project development. They thus work closely with sales team members and enterprise architects. Hence gain a complete sense of client expectations and limitations before undertaking a significant project development. As part of this process, the solution architect may examine existing systems and programs to identify areas for improvement and integration.

 Solution architects, therefore, play an essential role in project management. This role requires excellent attention to detail. The solution architects frequently need to examine functional specifications. After that translate them into system guidelines that shape project development and find ways to align projects with the enterprise-level system.