Architecture in the I.T. and telecommunications sector

Right, let’s get this cleared up straight away! We’re not here to talk about the guys that draw pictures of buildings and calculate how they are going to be constructed. We are, however, here to talk about I.T. professionals who deal with things that are just as structurally complex.

Architects in the I.T. & Telecommunications sector are the people that lead the strategic and technical direction of projects to create incredibly complicated I.T. solutions.

Incidentally, these positions are certainly not entry-level roles for computer science graduates who are taking their first tentative steps in their careers. Architects are the big dogs of the technical I.T. world. You will only break into these roles once you have gained many years of experience in the I.T. sector.

The terminology in this subsector can be confusing, so strap yourself in and get ready to scratch your head from time-to-time. Don’t worry though; we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible!

What is a technical architect?

The phrase ‘technical architect’ is an umbrella term for all the different kinds of I.T. architecture. Technical architects can focus their efforts on both software and hardware solutions; it really depends on the specific project they are working on!

Basically, technical architects work on major I.T. projects and lead all the technical work that needs to be done. These guys have strategic and managerial responsibility for complex pieces of work and strive to create technical solutions that are scalable, dependable, functional and adaptable.

Architects make all the high-level decisions, govern all the development and design work and set rigorous technical standards that all lower-level developers, designers and engineers must adhere to. Furthermore, they identify what technologies, products, programming languages and pieces of hardware (infrastructure architecture only) are going to be used to create the solution.

These technical gurus tend to have a wealth of technical and business experience. This comes in handy when they are required to understand the business objectives that demand the proposed I.T. solutions.

Architects work simultaneously with the business and technical teams. Their wealth of technical and business experience means that better and more cost-effective solutions can be produced. Furthermore, the managerial direction they bring to projects makes things happen much faster.

What are the different types of technical architects?

On smaller projects, the term ‘technical architect’ might be used as a job title for someone who oversees all the technical work. However, technical architecture can usually be broken down into the following roles:

  • Applications architect
  • Solutions architect
  • Enterprise architect
  • Infrastructure architect.

Applications architects are the lowest level software architects. However, they still have tons of responsibility. They take the technical lead on single projects and make all the high-level decisions relating to them. However, their strategic responsibilities are equally balanced with hands-on technical duties. Indeed, applications architects still have a large amount of direct interaction with source code. Confusingly, applications architects may also be referred to as software architects, systems architects or technical architects.

Solutions architects have more responsibility than applications architects, but less responsibility than enterprise architects. These guys take the technical lead for the entirety of multi-faceted I.T. solution projects, which involve various different applications and multiple software systems. They still have a certain amount of direct technical engagement; however, they have much wider strategic responsibilities.

Enterprise architects are on the top of the pile. These guys take strategic technical responsibility for an entire organisation. They will be overseeing the technical direction of many different solutions and managing a range of different technical teams. These high-level professionals will focus their efforts purely on strategy and making big decisions. It’s very rare that they will have any direct technical responsibility.

Infrastructure architects are specialist technical architects that deal purely with hardware and infrastructure equipment. They take direction from enterprise architects, but make their own important decisions about the structure and design of infrastructure solutions. These guys also have managerial responsibilities and delegate technical tasks to hardware and infrastructure engineers.

If all these technicalities haven’t sent you to sleep in your chair, and if terms like software, hardware and coding are second language to you, then you are of a different world – the I.T. world, my friends! Get going and apply for roles in the industry to join your fellow cyborgs in the exciting realm of solutions, enterprise, infrastructure and technical architecture careers.

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