This is the broadest classification of an architect in the software field. This can be implied to mean several things; an Enterprise Architect or systems architect, a solutions architect or application architect or system architect, a technical architect, or a data architect.
A Technical Architect Is focused on the technical aspects of an application and/or solution. He/she is Hands-On and is usually the person who researches and investigates any new technology ; He/she is usually involved in building a rough cut or a pilot/prototype using new technology or technical aspect. He/she explores the risk factor in using a new technology.
Application architect: An application architect focuses on the application as a whole. He/she looks at how the various components can fit in. The components may be custom-built or COTS. He/she is familiar with design patterns and their usage. He/she Is involved in the design of the application. An application architect can also be referred to as a solutions architect or a system architect (Note system is singular.) Microsoft narrowly defines a solution architect who provides solutions to internal customers i.e. within the enterprise. In an outsourcing model, the customers would be the clients.
The data architect ensures that the data assets of an enterprise are supported by an architecture that helps achieve its strategic goals.
Some fundamental skills of a Data Architect are:
- Logical Data modeling
- Physical Data modeling
- Development of a data strategy and associated polices
- Selection of capabilities and systems to meet business information needs
Data architects usually have experience in one or more of the following technologies:
- Data dictionaries
- Data warehousing
- Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)
- Metadata registry (data about data)
- Relational/Object/XML/Hierarchical Databases
- Structured Query Language
- Data Retention/Archival/Security Policies
A hardware architect is familiar with the system hardware to be used while building a software application. He usually interacts and works with the solutions architect to come up with a complete solution.
Enterprise Architect: An EA looks at the enterprise as a whole. The EA communicates with all the stakeholders; these include customers, suppliers . The EA has industry expertise . The EA is aware of the strategic vision of the company and fits the broad enterprise architecture towards this goal.
Information Architect: This is sometimes confused with Data Architect. Though there is an overlap, the term is derived from the Library Information Systems sciences. The field includes some aspects of data architecture especially with respect to how information is captured , stored and represented. It also includes knowledge of content management systems , since here the semantics are more important rather than the technical information.
Web Architect: A rather narrow specialisation. This would be included under software architecture as a subset.
That completes my definition of the various types of architects in the Information and Communications Technology industry.
A more recent phenomenon is the profession of Business Architects. Business Architects are designers; they design the business by transforming corporate strategy into models that are built by consulting with SMEs , customers, employees and managers. They take a cross organizational view of the enterprise as a whole. They break up the enterprise into its sub-parts or business components. They take a very high level view of the organization. Basically, their priority is to know and adapt how the enterprise functions to ever changing strategy. Their brief is to be forward looking and visualize how the business can adapt to change and markets.