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Solution Architect - Skills & Responsibilities

posted Apr 30, 2012, 12:46 PM by Jageshwar Tripathi   [ updated Apr 1, 2013, 5:49 AM ]
Most of the job postings related to solution architect role I have seen were mainly consulting and presales focused but I have also seen very few postings which are engineering focused or delivery focused role named as solution architect. I guess incorrectly the title solution architect was given to people who are working as a software architect of some other role in the delivery.  Some graphs can be seen on a page titled  "Types of Architects and Job Trends" on this site.
As ususal you can find any definition for this role too suggesting many things related for this role but ultimate acceptable definition should derive from the market (job market). Although jobpostings may not present acctually what is expected from a role because people responsible for posting jobs sometimes post generic things or they may have their own perception. Before jumping in to samples of job postings and extract of skills and responsiblities let us see what is described by others:-

On wikipedia it is defined as follows:
"The role title has a wider meaning in relation to solving problems, but is more often used in the narrower domain of Technical architecture - the context for the remainder of this definition. In this context, the Solutions Architect is a very experienced architect with cross-domain, cross-functional and cross-industry expertise. He/she outlines solution architecture descriptions, then monitors and governs their implementation." [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solutions_Architect ]

Gabriel Morgan in his blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/gabriel_morgan/archive/2007/09/02/enterprise-architect-vs-solution-architect.aspx compares solution architect and enterprise architect roles. At the end of his post he says: "As a quick summary, project Solution Architects and Enterprise Architects are different in that they have very different purposes. They are highly complimentary in that Solution Architects focus on delivery of solutions and Enterprise Architects focus on supporting them by documenting future state, participating on their teams and being involved in governance activities."

Last paragraph at http://www.solutionarchitecture.org/Workshop/Best-practice/a-definition-of-solution-architecture.html you can see the definition of solution architect: "Solution Architecture is the discipline of generating a creative & communicable technical design that aligns a feasible business solution with stakeholder expectation within the bounds of mandated delivery parameters."

I am not saying that these definitons are right or wrong but just wanted to look at what others are saying.  Here are some common skills and responsibilities folowed by how job postings describe this role.

Common Skills:
  • Broad range of technologies and products knowledge.
  • Should be able to select products and technologies for given client requirements.
  • Should be able to estimate effort and cost of implementing a solution. Knowledge of IFPUG Function Point Analysis method, Use Case Point and other methods of estimating effort.
  • Should be able to create a bluepring of to be state of the system to be built using choosen components.
  • Should have strong technical capability in atleast one technology stack (for example Microsoft, Oracle, IBM etc) which includes hands on experience in various products of a stack like: Application Server, Portal, ESB, Rule Engine, BPM Tools etc. Similarly for infrastructure focused roles expertise in one of the OS environment (Windows/Unix OS and related environment ) and familiarity with others along with strong capability in one of the security, storage product/solution and familiarity with others.
  • Should be able to present solution in 4+1 view
  • Communication skills, interpersonal skills and presentation skills.
  • Indept understanding of customer business and ability to understand customer business environment.
Common Responsibilities:
  • Presales activities, proposal development
  • Solution design based on RFP/Requirements which includes selection ot technology, tools and estimation method.
  • Creation of estimates, resource requirement and resource plan.
  • Identification of inscope and out of scope activities and other assumptions.
  • Presenting solution to the customer.
  • Colaborating with other arcitects/specialists to complete the solution (for example, testing, infrastructure, security parts of the solutions are some times delivered by respective expert teams and solution architects fit them in the main solution)
  • Support sales team in presenting offerings to the customer.
Solution Architect- Skills and Responsibilities as in job postings

Title: Solution Architect
Experience: Requires 7+ years
Skills:
  • Object and data modeling; J2EE/Java and web-based application development; Integration design and development using ETL tools, Web Services, SOAP, and middleware; XML and SQL; Oracle database and J2EE application server
  • Demonstrated large scale project management and implementation expertise
  • Understanding of development methodology and actual experience writing functional and technical design specifications
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, in person, by telephone, and with large teams
  • Strong prior technical, development background in either Services or Engineering - 5+ years of hands on solution design experience; experience developing applications on top of platforms
  • ERP and platform configuration implementation experience (SAP, Siebel, Oracle, Peoplesoft, I2, etc.)
  • The candidate should be comfortable with modern web based application technologies and be able to mentor and work with technical team members spread over multiple time zones
  • Knowledge of Oracle database and application server (Weblogic, Netweaver, or Websphere) required
  • Demonstrated experience resolving complex business and application problems; performance analysis a big plus
  • 3+ years managing technical project teams
  • Supply chain management, CRM, or pricing experience is advantageous, SAP integration experience a plus
  • Requires a bachelor's degree in CS, CE or EE
Responsibility:
  • Responsible for leading a group of technical resources from design phase to the completion of large, multi-divisional customer implementation
  • Responsible for engaging the customer IT group to help facilitate and estimate the hardware and software environment required for the project
  • Responsible for resolution of technical issues either through project level technical changes or working with product management and engineering groups to find core-product based solutions
  • Extensive travel to client sites throughout the US, 50% travel required as part of customer project delivery
Title: Solution Architect
Experience: 5-10+ years of total IT experience
Skills:
  • Broad range of IT knowledge across multiple technology discipline; 5+ years of consulting experience
  • Ability to translate clients’ business goals into solution offerings
  • Experience and professionalism presenting to and interfacing with upper level management
  • Strong customer relationship and account management skills
  • Experience with account and program management, with the ability to manage multiple medium to large scale engagements to successful delivery across 3 to 5 clients
Responsibility:
Business Development
  • Participates in pre-sales activities and the proposal development process
  • Provides input into establishing project and client pricing based on project estimates, risk, profitability, etc.
  • Participates and supports client action plans, process improvements and the strategic account planning process
  • Identifies opportunities for growth as well as improvements to existing infrastructure and organization
  • Bridge Sales and Service Delivery (continuity)
Client Relationship Management/Client Satisfaction:
  • Develop and maintain client relationships at all levels
Project Profitability:
  • Builds the project team structure that will deliver the solution
  • Develops staffing/project plan that will meet profitability guidelines
Solution Quality:
  • Responsible for overall solution design
  • Leads and oversees project planning process, requirements gathering, design, implementation, and project transitions and close
  • Responsible for creating re-usable project artifacts to reduce project timelines and increase project efficiency and profitability
  • Responsible for in-project quality checks including configuration/design, test/implementation plan and documentation review
  • Participates in project close process and internal project review meetings
People Management:
  • Participate in project staffing process
  • Responsible for mentoring project team members to develop and enhance consultant delivery capabilities

Title: Solution Architect
Experience: At least 10+ years related IT experience
Skills:
Essential Experience
  • Contacts and experience working with architect teams within customer & global service partners.
  • Experience delivering service oriented architectures, high performance integration solutions & large-scale enterprise infrastructures.
  • Experience of technical consulting, bid responses, project envisioning, planning & management with business development.
  • Evidence of business impact through project engagement.
  • Candidates should have a proven track record of delivering successful full lifecycle architectural engagement end to end projects in the IT industry with an approx. value in excess of $1.5 million at an Enterprise level, and must be capable of taking overall technical accountability for a project.
Technical/Functional Skills
  • Architecture & design of complex systems - application, infrastructure, security
  • Experience of working as part of a bid team for large scale enterprise solutions
  • Overall Project Management Skills
  • Familiar with & capable of applying Microsoft Solutions Framework & Microsoft Operations Framework or industry aligned framework methodologies such as Zachman and, TOGAF

Responsibility:
  • Perform the lead architect role in enterprise programs of work, encouraging and growing others within the team.
  • Deliver Solutions Architecture services in complex, challenging projects.
  • Technical Assurance that solution implemented will perform as specified & deliver expected benefits according to the project phases as well as measures on the design attributes identified during the envisioning and planning phases of a program.
  • Business Development - As an Architect within company, you are accountable for supporting the Enterprise Sales Organization in developing opportunities that delight our customers and that meet their business needs and aligning technology strategy back to their business.
  • Envisioning -Identify relevant and consistent technical solution models that articulate and incorporate whole system design.
  • Planning - Create architecture, which results in successful solution, including driving architectural decisions and trade-offs. As an Architect you will be accountable for providing customers repeatable, measurable and consistent software architectures based on repeatable patterns, principles and proven practices.
  • Building and Deploying - Create solutions that meet the quality attributes of an architecture By establishing alignment among the relevant identified stakeholders both internally and externally.
  • Maintaining and Evolving - Ensure architectural integrity of evolving solution
  • Influence change with customer through innovative use of business technology to CIO level. Gain recognition by demonstrating sphere of influence & contribution at local level and contribute to best and proven practice locally on areas such as methodology, frameworks, principles & architectural standards.
Title: Senior Solution Architect
Experience: Should have 4 or more years experience with hands on delivery experience (preferred) in prepaid charging solutions and associated solutions like Multi-mediation, billing applications, middleware, provisioning, etc.
Skills:
Should have working knowledge in technical areas like GSM / IN call flow, SS7 stacks, INAP, CAMEL, UNIX, Solaris, SIGTRAN, Oracle, Veritas Volume manager, clustering, MySql, Java, Perl, IP networking, client server concepts, data migration fundamentals etc
Responsibility:
  • Supporting the market and sales organization as an expert in the solution portfolio. This includes
    • To write and review Statement of Compliance document and customer solution descriptions
    • To contribute at customer visits as the solution and technical expert
    • To make solution presentations
    • To define and produce functional requirement specifications
  • Together with the SI CPM identify scope and cost estimation
  • Drill down the technical solution into tasks and provide effort estimates along with CPM
  • Technically own the customer solution
  • Act as Technical leader for Solution Integrators
  • Ensure project delivery as per agreed scope with strict Change control
  • Lead and perform advisory studies and pre-studies of business requirements and solutions
  • Participate in customer delivery projects, handling scope, risks, changes and customer expectations and own the technical solution during project delivery
  • Define, manage and verify solutions in customer projects, including handling and management of third party products and suppliers.
  • Identify new business opportunities
  • Responsible for assigning activities & review delivery progress with the Solution Integrators.
  • Proactive competence development of self in new solution areas in the domain & certification.
  • Mentor Solution Integrators and provide transparent & open environment for growth and development
Title: Solution Architect - Java Architect - Pre Sales - Post Sales
Experience: Minimum 5+ years experience
Skills:
  • Expertise with architecting, designing, developing and deploying Java (J2EE and J2SE) based solutions.
  •  Extensive experience in enterprise application deployment architectures, environments and concerns (scalability, performance, availability, reliability, security etc.)
  •  Strong knowledge of modern Javarelated frameworks  O/R mapping (e.g. Hibernate), Dependency Injection (e.g. Spring), ByteCode Injection etc. to name a few.
  •  Strong tuning skills within a complex multiJVM cluster (Garbage Collection, Disk I/O characteristics, Distributed Locking)
  • Familiarity with Distributed Cache, MapReduce frameworks, Distributed Locking and Grid Technology is a strong plus.
  • Knowledge of Solaris and/or Linux Administration and knowledge of the Networking tier is also a strong plus.
  • Basic scripting skills and knowledge of benchmarks, standards
  • Installation, configuration, and management of a few of commercial and opensource Java application servers such as BEAWebLogic, Tomcat, Resin, Jetty, JBoss, Glassfish etc.
  • Working knowledge of Database architectures, SQL and ability to interpret ERDs and other relational specifications is useful.
Responsibility:
  • The Java Sales Engineer will provide both strategic and hands-on technical expertise, selling capabilities and project-management skills to prospects and customers throughout their evaluation and consumption of the company's product.
  • Positioning technology correctly while providing prospects/customers with a framework and methodology for evaluating Distributed Computing technology and an assessment of product fit to the customer's enterprise/application's architectural needs.
  • Providing assistance to prospects with choosing the right set of Products and designing the Application-integration right.
  • Hands-on assistance with Integration (code-reviews, code-samples etc.) and Tuning of the customer Application with company's technology.
  • Hands-on engagements to help consumers successfully execute stress testing and get to deployment readiness.
  • Troubleshooting performance, scale, availability issues for integrated solutions and debugging Production Problems when the situation arises.
  • Managing relations with software architects, developers, operational personnel and technology leadership (CTO, CIO, Directors etc.) within prospect organizations.
  • Providing feedback on product features and priorities to the product management and core-engineering team.
  • Building integrations based on core technology to popular Open Source Frameworks and writing Reference Applications.
  • Author occasional Blogs and Technical Articles based on the above tasks.

Title: Pre Sales Solution Architect, Storage Solutions
Experience:
Skills:
  • Demonstrated success in a technical presales role in support of sales Account Managers, including excellent presentation and documentation skills and/or demonstrated aptitude and interest in sales competency with exposure to post-sales activities while acting in a consultant role.
  • Communication and business awareness which allow the individual to develop relationships at engineering, commercial and CXO levels throughout organizations.
  • At least 3 years experience implementing and designing solutions in a variety of enterprise storage, networking and/or high-end enterprise environments.
  • Experience installing, administering, and/or troubleshooting mission critical client-server applications and operating systems on Linux, UNIX and/or Windows.
  • Knowledge and/or experience with the following network protocols: TCP/IP, FTP, NFS, SMB/CIFS. Must be familiar with Bourne/Bash, Python, Perl or other scripting/coding or C programming skills.
Responsibility:
  • Support the sales team as the technical expert in the delivery and implementation of Storage products and offerings. Show a diverse understanding of complex storage systems, design value driven architectures, and present the application and ROI of those technology solutions, then deliver compelling recommendations which directly result in the closing of new sales.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the customer's business and IT environment. Collaborate with the sales executives in assessing the potential application of products.
  • In conjunction with the services teams, assist customers with the deployment Storage products into their environments and act as a technical point of contact to customers, researching issues in a timely manner and following up directly with the customer to resolve problems.
  • Provide follow-up support in disseminating technical information on specific applications. Prepare detailed product specifications and implements detailed customer installation plans.
  • As the storage solution subject matter expert in country, this Solution Architect will be responsible for educating the presales and sales teams on our storage offerings and elevating our capability overall in this domain. This will include hosting virtual training sessions, writing internal technical white papers, and facilitating knowledge sharing across the Solutions Architect team.
Title: Java J2EE Solution Architect
Experience:
Skills:
  • Distributed computing and building n-tier applications
  • Experience in solution architecture based J2EE & SOA principles
  • Experience across multiple technology domains (Portals, Integration, Security etc)
  • Experience in Web Methods middleware (ESB, Orchestration/Workflow, Security, Rule Engines etc)
  • Experience in Data warehousing & Reporting Frameworks
  • Superior customer facing skills
  • Knowledge of GIS based applications
Responsibility:
  • Providing the overall solution architecture & design
  • Providing the solution based on J2EE, Web Methods & SOA principles
  • Architecture decisions and PoC/PoT
  • Providing technical leadership during the Design & implementation Phases
  • Performance assessment, tuning and helping in resolving critical issues
  • Involve in Proposal Preparation and RFP responses
  • Customer facing and working with customer architecture teams and act like an interface between the customer teams and project team
Title: Senior Solution Architect
Experience
: 5+ years experience as a Solution Architect
Skills:
5+ years experience as a Solution Architect, synthesizing and abstracting complex data/information, leading complex decision processes to produce strategic solutions to enhance corporate competitiveness that’s cost effective and of high quality.  This includes in depth knowledge of potentially impacted areas such as:
  • distributed environment technology realities unix and stack components (Websphere, Weblogic, JBOSS)
  • application and technology integration
  • Integration and architecture design
  • tools and technologies used to design, plan, and validate architecture designs
  • architecture developed for complex business to business transactions
  • developing roadmaps for migrating from complex, legacy environments
Responsibilities:
  • Analysis & Design – Conduct independent reviews of technical and business requirements then create technological design alternatives and directions to meet requirements while creating innovations to enhance operations and/or provide a competitive advantage to the organization.   Partner with program managers and development teams to understand all requirements in order to formulate the appropriate architecture required to provide system functionality, deciding when to advocate and when to compromise for a mutually acceptable solution.  Work with the development team to translate software architecture into design.
  • Relationship Building & Change Agent – Be the primary technical resource to consult senior clients, IT management and staff.  Communicate and persuade acceptance of the architectural blueprints to mobilize the rest of the organization to build solutions that fit customer needs. 
  • Compliance Assurance – Provide feedback on design issues for scheduling and allocation of resource issues, ensuring technical designs comply with applicable architecture standards and designs are functionally and technically feasible. Validate the technical solution to meets business, performance, integration, and scalability requirements for each project.  Establish, communicate, and enforce application design patterns, interface standards, and development guidelines.  Help create IT System Strategies to ensure solutions are compliant with standards and architectural decisions.   Establish solutions architectural processes and standards to guide the rest of the development organization.
  • Provide Innovative Solutions - Understand medium to long-term business objectives and propose innovative technological strategies to meet these objectives via investigating new technological development viabilities of architectural offerings and deciding and adjusting the architecture to changing customers’ requirements, market conditions and technological evolutions.
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