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Software Architect vs. Solutions Architect: Is There a Difference?

Software Architect vs Solutions Architect

We are in the era of business digitalization. However, some businesses find it hard to distinguish the software architect vs. solutions architect roles. Let’s unravel their key differences.

Technology has revolutionized the way entrepreneurs do business. It is evident in the advancements in the area of customer service, marketing, and production. Hence, more companies employ AI and other techs in their workflows to increase efficiency and productivity.

Moreover, in the software industry, technology is not the only evolving aspect. Growth also presents nuances in terminology and professional function. 

Now, the word “architect” not only pertains to someone who wears a helmet to inspect a site. But, it also refers to a professional working on enterprise solutions or involved in the coding life cycle.

In this article, we will be talking about two kinds of architects in the tech environment. Let’s take a look at the differences in the function of software architect vs. solutions architect. How are they related? And what are the duties that these two professions handle while working?

Software Architect vs. Solutions Architect: A General Definition

It takes a village to manage the whole business technology. This is especially true for companies involved in creating custom software for various clients. In cases like this, the team is composed not only of programmers and engineers but also architects.

Here’s a birds-eye view of these professions. 

Solutions Architect: Enforcing Innovation Integration

A solution architect serves as the bridge between enterprise goals and technology development. How so? By definition, the term solution architecture refers to the process of creating and documenting architecture content. Its goal is to enable a specific operational outcome for a business.

Hence, it’s the duty of a solutions architect to address the stakeholder’s needs for innovation. Additionally, they produce particular functional and nonfunctional requirements in the derived solutions. Most often, the professional creates the target architecture in the context of the following domains:

  • Business — Processes and sequence of events that each user persona should accomplish to finish the desired task.
  • Data — Information and other data necessary to complete the desired task. 
  • Application — Divided the application into UX, UI, and data components when a user persona accesses it through mobile or web.
  • Technology — Address infrastructure needs in terms of high availability and performance when it comes to computers, networks, and storage.
  • Integration — Determine external data and functional resources, and look for ways to interact with these resources efficiently.
  • Security — Solutions architecture also reviews data privacy and security requirements.

Once elaborate plans are in place, the solutions architect breaks them down into building blocks. This way, there are concrete deliverables for each architecture domain.

Software Architect: The Resource Behind the Code Design

When a project enters the build phase (or the SDLC phase), it also signals the need for the software architecture. In a team, its function is to ensure that the product is flexible, safe to use, and scalable.

Therefore, a software architect designs an entire system that aligns with the business and functional requirements of the project. And how does the architect do that? 

First, they must analyze the needs of end-users. In turn, the consumer data turns into the function and interface of the software.

The next stage is about integrating business goals into the entire system. This is done with minimum risk to business operations while meeting end-user expectations.

Aside from microservices and monolithic architectures, there are other well-known patterns used by software architects. These include the following:

  • Blackboard
  • Layered 
  • Model-View-Controller
  • Client-Server 
  • Event-Bus
  • Pipe-Filter 
  • Broker 
  • Interpreter
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

Sometimes, clients confuse a software architect with that of a software designer. However, these two are not interchangeable since they have varying functions to a certain extent.

The former provides the foundation for the system. In comparison, the latter designs ways to achieve project goals in reference to the plans created by the software architect.

Breaking the Code Into Job Descriptions: Software Architect vs. Solutions Architect

Businesses wanting to update their legacy systems or use new software need both software architects and solutions architects. These professionals help achieve company goals within project cost and time constraints. 

But what are the differences in the daily tasks of a software architect vs. a solutions architect?

What does a Software Architect do?

In some companies, a software architect is also called a technical architect. This person is responsible for the entire software system. In addition to that, here are other technical tasks that this professional handles during work hours.

  • Evaluate, identify, and develop software solutions for functional and non-functional requirements
  • Review cost analysis and scheduled deliverables to make sure everything is within budget and project timeframe
  • Create presentations for UI and functionalities of a software product
  • Plan relevant technology integration and workflow for software development
  • Offer technical guidance and support for developers, engineers, and other stakeholders
  • Check the software quality to ensure that it meets quality, security, scalability, and modifiability requirements
  • Work with team supervisor to oversee development progress to establish consistency with the initial design
  • Work with QA specialists to conduct a final check on the software quality before deployment 
  • Communicate with the whole development team throughout the project

Software Architect Salary

According to the data from the Economic Research Institute, the average annual salary of a software architect is $137,431. The position’s per hour rate is $66 on average. Moreover, there’s a 16% projected annual salary increase within a five-year period. It amounts to $159,321 per annum, which will be earned by a software architect by 2027.

Comparatively, Salary.com published an estimated salary per annum to be around $142,903. The number is based on HR-reported data from all over the U.S. However, you must note that the salary differentials can depend on education level, certifications, and additional skills.

What makes a great Software Architect?

In most companies, software architects are considered to be half engineers, half business leaders. But in terms of skills, what should a software architect have to be successful?

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or any related technical field
  • Additional certifications in frameworks and software architecture is a great advantage
  • Extensive expertise and experience with software architecture styles and design patterns
  • In-depth knowledge of related programming languages required by the project (i.e., Java, Python, Ruby, C++)
  • Excellent project management skills
  • Great interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Strong team management skills
  • Knowledge of development methodologies (e.g., Waterfall, Agile)
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills

Take note that when projects evolve, there may be other requirements to manage the position’s daily responsibilities. But these general requirements can set off one’s journey to occupy the position of a successful software architect.

What does a Solutions Architect do?

In a nutshell, a solutions architect evaluates a company’s IT needs and provides solutions for them. The following are the tasks that the professional handles every day:

  • Review current business technologies and find innovative solutions to improve them
  • Create a document regarding the solution’s requirements necessary for the proposed tech improvements
  • Collaborate with IT and other technical teams to ensure that all resources are functional, such as hardware, software, and network
  • Monitor proposed solutions and the issues that come with them (e.g., risks, time constraints, scope, resources)
  • Act as a bridge between the client and the technical team to develop the solutions and achieve the desired results

Solutions Architect Salary

In a published article from Comparably.com, the average salary of a solutions architect per annum is $115,166. Moreover, it has been reported that 67% of solutions architects receive a bonus of up to $8,333 every year.

On another note, Talent.com released another rate for this profession. Based on 5,239 salary data, the site published that the annual average salary for solutions architects is $140,235. That means that most professionals earn $71.92 per hour. 

But then again, salary rates would depend on the educational background, tenure, and other factors. Geographical location may even play a role in the salary rate of solutions architects.

What Makes a great Solutions Architect?

It is the solutions architect’s job to upgrade the tech and systems of a company. That is why the professional must have the following required skills to make it happen.

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Great project management and leadership skills
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, and other related technical fields
  • Master’s degree in business administration, especially with information-systems-related courses (depending on the company)
  • In-depth understanding of tech systems, innovative processes, and system security
  • Advance knowledge of business analysis and its best practices
  • Extensive knowledge about operating systems along with developing cloud infrastructure and IT systems
  • Creativity
  • High analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Organized and attentive to details 

Choose the Right Architect for your Business Needs

There is no need to be confused about what kind of architect suits your requirements. All you need to do is review what your business needs. And, choose who fits the bill better between a software architect vs. solutions architect.

Are you looking for a professional who can handle enterprise system upgrades? Then working with a solutions architect can be good for you. Now, are looking for someone to work on a software product? Then hire a software architect.

Work with Full Scale Today!

If you’re looking for technical architects, then Full Scale has the right talent for you. We have a full roster of software architects, developers, engineers, and other professionals. 

Our recruitment process involves a meticulous technical assessment. Thus, rest assured that everyone on our team is highly qualified in terms of experience and expertise. What are you waiting for? Discuss your requirements with us today.

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