Role of Development Architect vs Solution Architect

There are a lot of “Architect” titles in the enterprise, mostly used interchangeably. However, there are differences between some of them; at least the Development Architect versus the Solution Architect.

Solution Architecture is a design blue print that satisfies a given enterprise problem and a solution architect needs to apply architectural principles to the solution to create that blue print. This is important because success of any architecture is dependent on its uptake.

That is the core difference between a Development Architect and a Solution Architect – a Development Architect CREATES the architecture and a Solution Architect APPLIES it to solve a problem. It takes a different mind-set and is not just some terminology issue. Having done this role; and working with other solution architects, I like to use this movie analogy…

  • Development Architect is like the movie equipment producer e.g. camera.
  • Solution is the end product — the movie itself.
  • Solution Architect is the Director knowing enough of both to make movies.

One cannot produce blockbuster movies with just technical knowledge of the equipment otherwise every movie technician would be winning Oscars for their directorial ventures. What is needed is a James Cameron who has a broad understanding of the solution – market, audience, story, screenplay, direction, background score, cinematography etc – as well as deep knowledge of the tools – 3D, film formats, sound formats, color coordination, special effects, sync-sound, foley sound effects etc. That is the role of a solution architect – someone who has the deep know-how as well as broader vision of creating an Avatar!

In enterprises, solution architects need to understand the architecture – applications, data models, middleware etc – and how to leverage them to satisfy the solution needs – working with stakeholders, identifying the correct need, negotiating scope etc.

The above does not imply in any way that any one type of architect is more important than another. Even Cameron had to wait more than a decade before the technology became mature enough for his vision, so both types of architects are crucial to the success of the solution – the analogy is just to highlight the differences.