Today, IT is the cornerstone of businesses and organizations. However, each organization is different and requires an infrastructure specially dedicated to meet its needs quickly and efficiently. To that end, companies need a professional who can create and customize the best IT solution. That’s where IT architects come in.
Let’s explore this critical role, including defining the position, what they do, the roles they play, and how you can become one.
Let’s get started with a definition.
What Is an IT Architect?
We’ve all heard of architects. They’re those people who draw up design blueprints for buildings and other structures. Information technology architects are also designers, but they work primarily in the digital realm.
An IT architect is a professional who comes up with high-level solutions for business applications, systems, portfolios, infrastructures, or an entire enterprise. They develop IT services and solutions for companies and organizations and often design and manage communications, security, networking, storage, and so on.
The term “IT architect” is a catch-all for a range of different architect roles found in the world of information technology. They include:
- Domain Architects. These architects deal with applications, business, data/information, and infrastructure.
- Enterprise Architects. This role encompasses all aspects of IT architecture.
- Security Architects. Security architects focus on the mechanisms, processes, and technologies associated with protecting assets from unauthorized and malicious intruders.
- Solutions Architects. These professionals develop solutions to business issues and problems.
If someone wished they could theoretically focus exclusively on one of these specialized roles. Still, considering how versatile IT architects are, it would be short-sighted to limit oneself to just one aspect of IT architecture.
What Does an IT Architect Do?
Let’s use a hypothetical example. GenericCorp is a medium-sized, up and coming startup company that manufactures and sells plain, gray clothing. As the staff is setting up everything they need to go live, the CEO notices that the company has no IT department.
Consequently, they bring in a professional who designs a complete infrastructure from the ground up, including servers, data storage, a functioning network, a private cloud, security protocols, and more. Once the IT infrastructure is in place, this person keeps things running smoothly and keeps management in the loop regarding their IT resources. Finally, the professional keeps an eye on new technological innovations and procedures and plans for possible evolution beyond the original project's scope.
What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of an IT Architect?
Here is an itemized list of the specific responsibilities and roles of an information technology architect. Note that not every architect will be required to take on all these responsibilities. Much depends on the company size, its needs, and any additional IT resources/staff.
An IT architect must create a project roadmap showing how things should progress from the current situation to the expected results. This roadmap should also feature necessary milestones and significant activities.
Presenter and Communicator
Professionals in this role should communicate and present their vision to all management levels and any required experts. Furthermore, they must be able to explain their work to people outside of the IT field. This responsibility also includes handling any conflicts that arise.
In the world of construction, architects draw up the plans, and the contractors do the building. IT architects create the project in the IT world and then implement it, often with a team. Thus, IT architects need to act as leaders, by clarifying goals and expectations, and keeping everyone on the right track.
Before the project gets going, the IT architect should identify the most important and relevant stakeholders and get their input to shape the architecture. IT architects must appreciate how IT and business cultures intersect and how to establish common ground.
Consultant and Advisor
IT architects should know how to build strong working relationships with the clients and deliver outstanding client services. By making themselves available to advise and consult, a promising IT architect demystifies the process to benefit everyone involved and builds trust and working relationships.
This role is probably the most important. By the very nature of the work they do for the organization, IT architects are agents of change. They must understand how changes will affect different aspects of the business, such as business processes and functions, personnel, data, and application and infrastructural changes. These changes aren’t just limited to the current project, either. They must also consider what future changes may be needed, including adding new processes or more advanced technologies.
Skills Needed to Become IT Architect
Much like many other jobs in the world of IT, we can break down the required skills into “hard skills” and “soft skills.” Hard skills are skills you learn through study, taking classes, enrolling in online certification programs, or undergoing formal, organized training while doing your job.
Soft skills are harder to quantify and explain, since they’re non-technical skills that resemble personality traits. For instance, the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone and ascertain what they want can be called “being gregarious and socially adept.” Still, it’s also considered a soft skill in the business world. After all, communication is essential, especially between teams and stakeholders.
As more IT functions migrate to the cloud, that platform becomes more important for all digital professionals. IT architects should be familiar with all cloud computing operations, such as scaling and sharing resources.
IT architects must know how to manage resources such as computer hardware, data, data centers, and software.
Thanks to the proliferation of online data fraud, hacking, viruses, and other cyberattacks, the digital world has put a premium on cyber security.
This hard skill covers the behavior, structure, and views of IT systems via a conceptual model. This skill includes modules and sub-systems that function in the overall system.
Virtual machines such as hardware platforms, storage devices, and network resources are critical in today's IT world. IT architects need to have a solid grasp on how to incorporate virtual resources in their solutions.
There’s been a lot said about data analytics in today’s IT environment, but we’re talking about good old-fashioned analytical skills that don’t require digital resources. A person with analytical skills can interpret and understand information to make efficient, effective decisions. This includes critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Whether it’s written down or spoken, good communication is essential for this role. IT teams require guidance and complex concepts explained, and non-technical people need things made clear in terms they can understand.
IT architects are responsible for so many different tasks — often simultaneously. They must be organized, handling issues like prioritization, resource management, and time management.
Not everyone has the skills to pull off a project. This skill involves planning, initiating, executing, controlling, and wrapping up a project for meeting goals and specific criteria for success.
Sharp-eyed readers may notice that most of the soft skills bleed into each other. That’s because it takes a certain kind of person to be an IT architect. These professionals are organized, articulate, problem-solvers.
IT Architect Job Description and Salary
So you’ve decided to become an IT architect and want to look for a job opening. What can you expect to find? According to Payscale, here’s what a typical job description looks like:
- Create, design, prototype, and test new algorithms, methods, and models
- Define the application, system, and technical architectures for significant areas of development
- Define and enforce relevant technical procedures and standards
- Take point in researching and developing new software products and applications
- Oversee developing future component architecture and migration plans
An IT architect in India can look forward to earning an annual average of ₹1,873,712, while according to Glassdoor.com, an IT architect in the US can expect a yearly median income of USD 106,628.
Do You Want to Learn How to Become an IT Architect?
Even if you have the soft skills to become an IT architect, you need hard skills as well. Fortunately, Simplilearn has you covered. Learn the Basics of TOGAF Foundations or enroll in the ITIL® 4 Foundation Certification training course provides you with a firm understanding of the ITIL 4 framework, core concepts, and ITIL service lifecycle terminologies. By the end of this ITIL certification, you will understand how ITIL evolved to adopt modern technologies and operational processes and the necessary concepts in a service management framework.
Don’t delay. Check out Simplilearn’s entire range of related courses, including IT service management training.