May 192008

At the Cutter Summit this year, I attended Mike Rosen’s talk on “Ten Things an Architect Does” and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation about the job of an architect. But it got me thinking about the different things architects do and how many kinds of architects it would be nice to have.

My Killer Architecture Team would have the following seasoned pros, all with 10+ years experience:

  1. A data architect who understands the nuances of all forms of data, including relational data, XML data and all things in between. Knowledge of data warehouse schemas is a must.
  2. A software architect. He or she should understand all things that code can do and how code should be best designed for maximum reuse and minimal complexity. Knowledge of business application architectures would be needed.
  3. An integration architect. This person should know the ins and outs of various middleware including web services, identity management, distributed system architectures, ETL tools, message-oriented middleware and all the things that keep distributed systems in sync.
  4. A network architect who can reason about network protocols, network security, routers, switches, the cable plant, wireless infrastructure, phone and data networks, converged networks and private and public network architectures.
  5. A business process architect. This person should know the ins and outs of how business process work (and don’t), how business processes are best changed and how business processes and the technology can be altered for optimal architecture price and performance. The ability to communicate well with business leaders is key.
  6. An organization architect. This person should be trained and skilled in organizational development and organizational design. Deep knowledge about what makes humans tick is required. This person should be able to contribute to developing and evolving the corporate culture so that it can make maximum use of IT investments. Experience in psychology or social services may prove helpful.
  7. Human experience architect. This person should be a master of human-computer interface issues and help the architecture team conceive of elegant and highly usable IT tools with a significant “wow” factor where needed. Having worked for Apple’s industrial design team is a plus.
  8. Business strategy architect. This person should be deeply knowledgeable about the linkages between business strategy and IT. Knowledge of the various schools of business strategy is required and the ability to converse well with the best of business and academic researchers on these difficult and critical issues is needed.

The team members should be always on top of it, business savvy, eloquent, always available to key business leaders 7X24, universally acknowledged as experts by the world at large and finally, this collection of architects should be a well-functioning, low-maintenance team that truly enjoys working together. In fact, they should have summer barbeques together each weekend, family included.

With such a team, I am sure we could do some serious damage to competitors. Do you agree?


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