Solutions architects are growing rapidly in demand, because of the bridge they build between business needs and technological innovation.
Solutions architects stand at the crossroad of the technical vision and the business needs of an organization. Their persistent desirability in an uncertain job market is partly because of the growing need for visibility and collaboration in technology. In the cloud space, this is mainly tedious because of the cost of unmonitored and unoptimized spend. Cloud solutions architects also encourage businesses to migrate to the cloud and find the best ways to make the migration process as smooth as possible.
A solutions architect's work and skills bridge the gap between business and technical stakeholders that can no longer be ignored. Not only do solutions architects help create visibility and harmony between often siloed disciplines. They can also save a lot of money for organizations. However, this role requires a unique set of soft and hard skills to be successful, making finding the right one for the job an essential task for most businesses.
What Solutions Architects Do
Solutions architects must be especially good at two things - maintaining positive relationships with clients and business teams and gaining the trust of technical teams. To do this, they must be part technologist, part business analyst and part mediator. Virtasant's Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Caitlyn Andres, explained the importance of delivering in a fast-paced environment. "[Solutions architects] need to be a natural leader amongst their colleagues who is not afraid to get their hands dirty and deliver results that exceed expectations."
Solution Architects design, describe and manage technology solutions to solve business problems. They need a clear understanding of how systems in place work and what the client's pain points and business needs are. In many cases, solutions architects have to solve significant, complex problems for enterprise planning. So, they must understand how the corporate environment is structured to propose solutions that easily integrate and evolve.
On the other hand, solutions architects have to determine how the existing technology within an organization is used and plan ways to improve it. For solutions architects in the cloud space, their assessment of existing architecture ensures that new products fit the existing ecosystem and the budget.
The solutions architect role may include:
- Working with the software development team to brainstorm ideas
- Documenting and monitoring requirements
- Proposing and designing frameworks to solve problems
- Defining project goals
- Analyzing possible tools
- Identifying constraints
- Help customers and development teams choose the right tools to solve problems
- Provide cost and performance advice for each tool
- Willingness to get hands dirty and implement solutions themselves
Working with Solutions Architects
Since collaboration is a crucial element to a solutions architect's job, they need to work heavily on creating a good relationship with the client and work collaboratively with the technical team. This mediation is beneficial for brainstorming ideas and identifying possible solutions that engineers will present to the client.
Why Feedback Matters
Because of the pivotal nature of their role, solutions architects should receive consistent feedback. For example, suppose the solutions architect is not assessing a proposed solution from all angles. In that case, their manager should provide feedback right away before proposing a solution that isn't feasible or might bring up future problems.
Solutions architects must communicate effectively with business and technology stakeholders, and getting clear, impactful feedback about how they're doing helps them navigate positively around this delicate process. To remain adequate, solutions architects must receive feedback from managers that is both specific and timely.
Skills and Certifications for Solutions Architects
Like many roles in the tech field, they ebb and flow as technology advances. Anyone entering the solutions architecture space should constantly re-educate themselves on the various disciplines they work with consistently. Companies should consider incentivizing certification and accreditation for anyone who works closely with Amazon (AWS), Google (GCP) and Microsoft (Azure) cloud services.
For example, Virtasant provides CloudGuru seats for technologists and engineers interested in obtaining AWS certification and recently added GCP and Azure to the list. This awareness keeps tech teams consistently up to date on AWS best practices and emerging technologies. To address the other side of the skills needed, an acute cognizance of technology as it advances and changes is central. CloudGuru offers resources like "ACloudGuru - AWS This Week," which publishes weekly videos about what has changed in the AWS world.
Since tech evolves rapidly, the ability to remain abreast of changes, new technologies, and willingness to advance their knowledge is another requirement that makes the solutions architect role unique. Solutions architects also need to know about the various cloud providers and applications' architecture and how to utilize their various benefits best.
A well-informed and well-supported solutions architect will solve the kinds of business problems that might otherwise stall progression. They fixate on the long-term, strategic vision of the organization and work with to ensure that vision is adaptable.
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