To meet the ever-increasing needs of businesses who cater for a large range of clients, it is important to offer unique, compatible solutions to a problem.
A Solutions Architect works directly with clients, developers and management to understand problems and formulate strategies. Essentially, their work allows a business to function more effectively.
What is a Solutions Architect?
A Solutions Architect plays a crucial role in business, acting as a bridge between the business’ problems and technology solutions.
Once the business identifies a problem, the Solutions Architect explores the landscape, considers the current software stack of the company, and then designs a software solution that can be configured to meet the specifications. This is then presented and implemented as a new business strategy.
Responsibilities of a Solutions Architect
To propose the best solutions, it is vital that the Solutions Architect has a thorough understanding of the problem at hand. They should also know the client’s software preferences.
When a client presents a set of business requirements, the Solutions Architect must break them down into sizable, technical solutions that can be formulated into a larger overall blueprint for the business. Here, they must consider the scalability of the solutions, their reliability and how to secure the software in use.
Throughout the project lifecycle, it is also their responsibility to communicate with a number of different professionals in the business. They should provide guidance and support for the implementation of the new technologies, tools and procedures. They also need to assist with any troubleshooting and ensure their existing solutions meet the requirements set out by the new blueprint.
Solutions Architect vs. Technical Architect vs. Enterprise Architect
So, what is the difference between the Architectural job roles that function alongside a business?
In simple terms..
A Solutions Architect designs the new strategy, based on the needs set out by the client.
A Technical Architect implements the IT necessary, set out by the strategy made by the Solutions Architect.
An Enterprise Architect ensures the strategy and IT proposed by the Solutions Architect and Technical Architect align with the original business goals set out by the client.
Solutions Architect vs. Technical Architect:
It is clear that each Architect role has a number of overlapping responsibilities, so these professionals must communicate frequently and effectively. However, the aims and outcomes of each role are distinctive and require different expertise.
As mentioned, a Solutions Architect’s focus is to design specific solutions, based on the business requirements provided by the client. They will build a strategy for prompt implementation of the solution, taking into account the software used by the business. The software and its functionalities, as outlined in this strategy, are the responsibility of the Technical Architect to implement, secure and troubleshoot.
Solutions Architect vs. Enterprise Architect:
While the Solutions Architects are designing the strategy, someone needs to ensure the ideas they put forward are in line with the business objectives. This is the job of the Enterprise Architect. They must plan ahead to calculate how the strategy will beimplemented, predict any issues they may need to overcome, and communicate with the Solutions Architect to ensure this is successful.
Qualities That Make a Great Solutions Architect
So, what does it take to excel in this role and what are the most important Solutions Architect skills?
- Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. When a client presents with a challenging set of business requirements, the Solutions Architect must be able to present to them the best solution possible, despite any obstacles.
- Creativity and innovation. These solutions must be designed to be scalable, reliable and secure, which is likely to require out-the-box thinking.
- Strong communication skills. As explained previously, there are a number of roles involved in the creation and deployment of the solution. The role requires a lot of effective communication and flexibility in your approach.
- Deep technical knowledge combined with business intelligence. To create the best solution possible, the architect must fully understand the capabilities of the software they are recommending.
- Ability to adapt to evolving technologies and industry trends. As technology evolves, the architect must also evolve their business strategies and the technologies they recommend to the client.
The Future of Solutions Architecture
With business requirements and standards becoming more sophisticated, there is a growing demand for Solutions Architects. The role is dynamic and constantly evolving.
Clients expect architects to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in technology and security. It’s important to be constantly upskilling and learning about your surroundings and the field you work in, to ensure that the emerging technologies have a positive effect.
Solutions Architecture and Cybersecurity: Building Secure Technological Foundations
Where does a Solutions Architect fit in the Cyber Security world?
Cyber Security businesses are the same as all other businesses – they will have projects that require a scalable, reliable and secure solution. The Solutions Architect must ensure they know the business’ use of IT and Systems in great detail and can design a strategy with this in mind.
The strategy must be secure in the design, build and implementation process, with consideration to any emerging threats and vulnerabilities. The Architect must be on hand to support this with their impressive knowledge of the cyber security landscape and how their strategy adheres to the evolving field.
Incorporating Security From the Ground Up
In Solutions Architecture, the concept of ‘Security by Design’ is crucial. This is defined as the process of ensuring secure design patterns are followed from the very beginning and implemented throughout the process, rather than being added at the end. This means the software isn’t reliant on patches and updates. It also encourages best practice when enforcing new software or capabilities.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation
As mentioned previously, it is the responsibility of the Architects to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in security threats and vulnerabilities. This knowledge is then carried forward in their role to assess potential security risks when designing, building and implementing the strategy.
In the architectural design, it is also their responsibility to integrate capabilities that mitigate against risks and vulnerabilities. This should address current known risks and anticipate future risks that may occur.
Compliance and Regulations
Another responsibility of the Solutions Architect is ensuring they are up to date with, understand and refer to regulations and compliance standards in Cyber Security.
Industry-specific protocols must be adhered to at all times and considered when presenting the strategy. We recommend utilising frameworks such as ISO to ensure this is done thoroughly.
Each strategy put forward must comply with the business’ standards and the frameworks they have chosen to follow. It is paramount that the architect is knowledgeable regarding the frameworks but also prepared to alter their strategy if the requirements for the framework alter. A certain amount of flexibility should be offered in this case.
Emerging Technologies and Security Challenges
It is just as important to keep up with the latest developments in the Cyber Security field as well as cyber’s emerging technologies. For example, AI and BlockChain have recently taken the industry by storm, and both offer positive and negative opportunities for a company.
The strategy made by the Architect should reflect the use of emerging technologies but acknowledge the risks associated with using them. All the positive opportunities offered by the developments should be used and nurtured, as long as you address any challenges that may arise as a result of doing so.
While you may face challenges, it is crucial to utilise the benefits of emerging technology, or at least to become familiar with their functionality for the sake of your clients. By implementing new technology into your strategy, this process will happen naturally.
Collaboration with Cybersecurity Experts
One key part of a Solutions Architect’s role and responsibilities is collaborating with Cyber Security professionals. This is key if the architect wants to design strategies that keep businesses ahead of the game.
With the enhanced technical knowledge of the systems and the industry offered by the cyber professional, the Architect candevelop the strategy to meet the security needs of the business. With further skills in risk and vulnerability, the professional will be able to positively influence the design process, making the overall approach more secure. A joint effort in this process should be encouraged across the lifecycle stages.
Case Study – Car Benefit Solution
To show how beneficial a Solutions Architect can be, CyberFort’s Agenci has written a Case Study for their client Car Benefit Solutions. This business reached out to them with specific requirements that called for a thorough and effective strategy.
With a number of regulations to abide by, Car Benefit Solutions needed CyberFort’s expertise to design and build an Information Security Management System. Robust security measures and protection of their assets would demonstrate initiative and compliance to regulators – this was the challenge this business wanted to tackle.
The solution was to design a bespoke framework that aligned with ISO27001, the international standard for information security. To ensure employees were aware of the change and what was expected from them, staff training resources were created. This helped foster a positive attitude towards Cyber Security and encouraged employees to expand their knowledge in the area. Staff became more confident asking questions about attacks and coming forward with any concerns they may have.
This collaboration is a brilliant example of how a Solutions Architect can assist a business in creating a strategy that works for them. The best solutions guide a client to become self-sufficient in maintaining the standards set out in the strategy.
What We’ve Learnt
In conclusion, a Solutions Architect is a highly skilled, important member of a business that can provide a thorough strategy for any necessary business requirements.
While being technically minded, they also need to be flexible, innovative and knowledgeable regarding frameworks, new technologies and trends in the field. The role would suit an ambitious, determined individual and would offer a sense of achievement to anyone passionate about helping businesses.
If you feel your business would benefit from a service like this, take a look at Cyberfort’s Technical Solution Architecture. We offer unique solutions for any business requirements, no matter how complex they are perceived to be. As with Car Benefit Solutions, this process can ensure you are compliant with the necessary regulations and provide a pathway to become self-sufficient in this process.