Software Architecture is a differentiator as well as a disruptor. New digital business models and unrelenting focus on client engagement are unlocking new, exciting initiatives and creating an unprecedented demand for Architects who can comfortably bridge any gap between business and technology
Organizations today realized the importance of Enterprise Architecture and its role in digital transformation. The role of Enterprise Architect (EA) is very crucial and expected to play “All In One”. Gone are the days of Ivory Tower Approach, producing multiyear plans, huge amount of documentations, huge timelines and rigid technology models etc. EA delivers great value by cutting cost and complexity by aligning IT concerns, technology tools with the strategic business goals.
Software Architecture today spans five dimensions: Strategy (Business Transformation), Application Modernization (Automation, Cloud, Microservices, APIs), Connected Intelligence (Big Data, AI, IoT, 5G and Edge Technologies), Trust (Cyber Security, Data Privacy, Governance and Transparency) and Realization (Agile, DevOps and CICD). The architect in this digital age must be well versed in all of them.
From my own work with customers across the globe, it is evident that Next Generation Technologies like AI/ML, Cloud, Data Engineering, Cyber, Platforms is going to change our world in ways we cannot imagine today. I also see in many of the enterprises the Innovation and Next Generation Technology adoption results into intelligent products, smarter services and transformed business operations.
The Next Generation Architect is expected to play the role of Strategist, Innovator, Guardian, Reviewer, Enforcer and Emerging Technologist etc…
Characteristics of Next Generation Enterprise Architect
Successful EAs of future must acquire “TEN” important qualities to guide Organization to success. For any Organization, the following are the qualities that EA should possesses as shown in the below diagram,
Implementing all these qualities will enable the Organization to scale up and quickly meet the investment decision-making process to support mission and strategies.
As a Strategist, the EA Work closely with the Business and Strategic Governance Team in understanding the IT strategies, directions and initiatives. Provide recommendations to the Strategic Governance Team on technology directions and analyzes the impact of new initiatives on the enterprise architecture. Plays critical role in defining longer-term technology roadmap with following focus areas:
- Recommends new technologies for inclusion in standards
- Participates in industry standards bodies/consortia and helps shape standards and processes
As an Innovator, Architects with high-level design thinking across the end-to-end solution (wider perspective). Architects have to go beyond imperative thinking to bring disruptive innovation. Architects must have the capability to involve in product selection, product integration in broader Organization landscape and guiding projects across the Organization.
By thoroughly researching the technology, and the resulting ideation, EAs need to provide internal teams and IT leaders with more than just a list of “cool” technology ideas.
As an Emerging Technologist the EA need to have the deep technology expertise and is aware of developments and innovations with focus area of participating in industry/vendor standards bodies/consortia and help driving innovation and adoption. Explore the use of emerging technologies to solve business problems in the form of,
- Investigating new and emerging technologies and innovations
- Identifies and collects potential technologies for consideration
- Leads technology investigation in pilot and proof-of-concept projects
EA’s of future take the initiative to gain the digital skills and find a way to provide value to the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Must be tech savvy, be aware, and provide advice on the usage of API’s, Microservices, Cloud, DevOps, smart database technologies and other emerging trends. Also, understand the importance of staying abreast of DevSecOps and emerging applications that could save the organization time and money, and open up unlimited possibilities.
Architect as an Engineer, brings efficiency, agility and automation to the systems. An Engineer addresses all the architecture decisions as part of the working system. Systems with efficiency and agility goals need the best engineering supported by the right architecture. Architects understands and plays the role of engineer and some of the key engineering skills that architect need to master are,
- DevSecOps adoption, helps drive agility and automation required for the business
- Polyglot, learn multiple programming languages & stacks to appreciate and take best architecture decisions
- Data Engineering, understand data management & analytics for developing smart applications
- Failure Analysis, build resilient systems by understanding the request paths and failure modes
As a Story Teller, the architects need to communicate the strategy and rally the various groups across the organization. As a storyteller, understand the audience and keep the solution interesting and simple. Also, communication to address the factors like, why, who, what, when, where and how.
As an Agile Architect, promote the agile approach across the enterprise. Acts like a servant leader, facilitator. Helps the team in smooth execution and removes any roadblocks. Agile architect is the best product owner for the enterprise architecture product. As a product owner, the agile architect identify the architecture required by an organization. The Agile architect owns the acceptance criteria used in the EA development sprints. As an Architect the focus should be on,
- Intentional Architecture. Architecture is a Collaboration
- Participate in all agile ceremonies which includes Elaboration, Planning, Retrospection and stand up meetings
- Build the simplest Architecture that can possibly work (established design principles)
- Define minor/major design solutions based on the requirements
- Don’t under architect and don’t over design
- Isolate rapidly changing parts/components from more stable one
- Code it or model it (spikes, prototype, domain and use case models)
- Build it, Test it (design for testability)
- Implement Architectural Flow (architectural epics and the portfolio kanban)
- Leading the team on technical front and guiding the team towards achieving quality deliverables on time.
- Needs to stay invested with the team throughout. Start involvement into a project right from the point of Functional specifications. Jointly review the functional specs with the business to understand the expectations and make sure that what’s written is what’s expected
- Continuously check with team to make sure they are not deviating from the stated design. Many a times, as an architect had to protect the time from unwanted bureaucracy
EA as a Guardian, need to ensure that standards are published, updated, made readily available. Define architecture and technology standards for all applications, infrastructure and information/data. Also, ensure maximum advantage of IT investments by advocating reuse and component/object based development and maintenance
As a Reviewer, review project architectures for compliance to standards with the following focus areas:
- Executes and participates in project review and approval processes at designated and ad-hoc review points, via the EA Review Board (EARB) Includes participation in hardware/software evaluation and selection processes
- Validate architecture designs/alternatives and give recommendations
As an Enforcer, the EA Enforces compliance to architecture standards with following areas of focus,
- Defines and governs project review and approval processes that include explicit architecture review and sign-off tollgates, including active participation in hardware and software purchases
- Provides final decisions on issues involving non-compliant projects; reviews overall cost, effort and risk issues associated with exceptions and makes directional decision.
As a Subject Matter Expert the EA need to have,
- Deep knowledge in one or more domain areas
- Provides subject-area advice to architecture development
As a Solution Architect, the following are the responsibilities of EA with corresponding area of focus:
- Plays active role in architecting solutions for projects: Leads a group of project architects who participate from the start phase and help architect solutions that embody architecture compliance and component reuse
- Considers technology innovation to address project requirements
- Consider available standards where applicable, but is not constrained by standards
Next Generation EA’s, architect the Organization’s landscape to drive business transformation in digital world. Strive to master all the qualities like, innovative, ability to execute, tech savvy and agile minded. Make right decisions in terms of accepting the right quality of data, overview of the portfolio in terms of applications, infrastructure and selection of the enterprise management tools. Be a listener to understand the needs of the team constantly learn and collaborate with best. Finally, be a evangelistic to make measurable impact on business of an Organization.
The author would like to thank Vijayasimha A & Raju Alluri of Wipro Digital Architecture Practice of Wipro Ltd for giving the required time and support in many ways in bringing up this article.
Dr.Gopala Krishna Behara is a Distinguished Member and Lead Enterprise Architect in Wipro Technologies with 25+ years of extensive experience in the ICT industry. He serves as an Advisory Architect, Mentor on Enterprise Architecture, Application Modernization and continues to work as a Subject Matter Expert and Author. He is certified in Open Group TOGAF, AWS Solution Architect -Associate, IBM Cloud Solutions and UNPAN. Published number of research papers, books in IT industry. He has been a speaker at National and International forums and bodies like The Open Group, National e-Governance Forum. He has been a moderator and panel member for multiple technical/business forums like IGI Global, AEA, Open Group and Premium College meets. Recipient of EA Hall of Fame International Award – Individual Leadership in EA Practice, Promotion and Professionalization Award. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gopalbehara/
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