Myth: Architecture field does not have specializations.

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11 Apr 2017 by mallyanitin

A Quick search for software architect titles would dispel this myth.

  1. Application Architect.
  2. Java Architect.
  3. Cloud Architect.
  4. Database Architect.
  5. Data Architect.
  6. Analytics Architect.
  7. Security Architect
  8. SOA Architect
  9. Solution Architect
  10. Product Architect

10 is a good number to make my point. Now let’s look at super-specialization.

  1. Cloud Architect
    • AWS Architect
    • Azure Architect
    • Cloud Foundry Architect
    • Google Cloud Architect
  2. Database Architect
    • MS SQL Architect
    • Postgres Architect
    • Azure SQL Architect
    • Cassandra Architect

Generalizing this, it could be reasoned that, the ask in the marketplace is for:

  • Big “A” Architect, known for his/her knowledge of patterns and practices of general architecture.
  • Specialized Architect, known for his/her knowledge of patterns and practices in a specialized field (e.g. cloud, security, database)
  • Super Specialized Architect, known for his/her knowledge of patterns and practices in a super specialized field (e.g. Azure, AWS, Postgres)

Hmmm…now now, if you have different super specialties that are required to build a product, would you

  1. Build a team of super specialized architects?
  2. Hire an architect, and have collaboration with super specialized engineers, consult with super specialized architects on a need basis?

My personal preference is #2.

Let’s take a healthcare analogy. In healthcare, you can find generalists, specialists and super specialists – general physicians, cardiologists, pediatric cardiologist, neurologists, dermatologists, endocrinologists, etc.

If you have a headache, where do you go? General Physician or neurologist?

  1. The chance that your condition is classified as a common condition is high, if you visit the general physician.
  2. The chance that your condition will be over-tested is high, if you visit a specialist.

It’s generalist and specialist bias.

Same is true with software architecture. Go to a software architect for an authentication problem, the solution proposal will look simple e.g. Use LDAP. If you go to a security architect for an authentication problem, the solution proposal will be comprehensive e.g. Use LDAP, Enable SAML & OAuth2 for single sign on, Test for OWASP Top 10 Web Application Security Risk, Develop threat model, …

The specialist is also costlier than the generalist; and the super specialist is costlier than the specialist.

You can always take second opinions with a specialist. However, its best that the system encourages generalists to front-end specialists. A tiered approach is better than walking directly to a specialist.

Just like a family physician (PCP – Primary Care Physician) is the first line of consult, a general architect (Big “A” Architect) is a good start to lead the architecture of a software product/solution.

But – hey – specializations exist in software architecture.

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mallyanitin

mallyanitin

A leader! Attracted to creativity and innovation. Inspired by simplicity.

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