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Sedat SALMAN for AWS Community Builders

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How to Become a Solution Architect #1: Skillset

As a matter of fact, the story of a solution architect has similarities with the story of "The Architect", which we are familiar with from The Matrix. The Architect first built a perfect world for himself, but people could not adapt to this environment. After several versions, The Architect has finally created a perfectly fit solution not for himself, but for people (customers). If a solution architect tries to build the perfect solution in his own way, that solution will most likely not work. However, if a solution is built according to the customers' requests and environment variables, that solution will be a long-lasting and more usable solution. So...

how to be a solution architect?

as always we can start with the definitions.

An architect is a person who designs and implements a building(thing). Architects are also responsible for ensuring that their designs comply with all relevant standards, laws, and other regulations

A solution architect is a professional who is in charge of designing and implementing technology solutions that meet the needs of an organization. They are experts at understanding business requirements and translating them into technical specifications, and they collaborate closely with other members of the organization, such as project managers, developers, and business stakeholders, to ensure that the solution is implemented correctly and effectively.

A solution architect's role is to understand the organization's current and future needs and goals and to design a solution that meets those needs while also taking into account any technical constraints and limitations. They are in charge of developing a holistic view of the solution, taking into account the organization's current and future business requirements, industry standards and best practices, scalability, security, and so on.

Solution architects are typically experienced professionals with a broad range of technical knowledge and experience. They must have a thorough understanding of the technologies and platforms that are relevant to the organization, as well as the ability to design scalable, secure, and cost-effective solutions. They are also responsible for ensuring that the solution adheres to industry standards and best practices and that it integrates seamlessly with the organization's existing systems and infrastructure.

So what skillsets a solution architect should have?

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In my opinion, the skills that a solution architect should have are primarily soft skills. The reason for this is that technical skills are both learnable and must be learned continuously due to technological developments. Then, the main task of the solution architect is the need to translate technical specifications in line with the business requirements, standards, priorities and limits of the customer, where the process must be managed entirely by soft skills.

Soft Skills

  1. Strong communication skills: As an architect, you will be working with different teams such as development, project management, and business teams, and it is important to be able to communicate effectively with them, both verbally and in writing.
  2. Strong Project management skills and ability to lead cross-functional teams.
  3. Strong collaboration skills and the ability to work well in a team environment.
  4. Strong analytical and critical thinking skills to evaluate the trade-offs between different solutions.
  5. Strong negotiation skills to be able to navigate conflicting demands and priorities
  6. Strong leadership skills to be able to influence and guide the team towards a common goal
  7. Strong attention to detail and ability to think strategically.
  8. Strong time management and organization skills to balance multiple projects and priorities.
  9. Strong adaptability and willingness to learn new technologies and methodologies.
  10. Strong stakeholder management skills to be able to understand the needs and expectations of different stakeholders and align solutions accordingly.

Hard Skills

  1. Strong understanding of architecture and design principles: This includes knowledge of design patterns, best practices, and industry standards such as TOGAF, Zachman framework, and others.
  2. Familiarity with different technology domains: This includes knowledge of different programming languages such as Java, C#, Python, and databases such as SQL, NoSQL and middleware such as Apache Kafka, RabbitMQ, and cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure and GCP.
  3. Experience with different types of solutions: Experience with web applications, mobile applications, enterprise applications, and data systems is essential for a solution architect.
  4. Strong problem-solving skills: Being able to analyze complex problems, identify potential solutions, and design effective systems is crucial for this role.
  5. Knowledge of agile methodologies and experience working in agile environments.
  6. Understanding of different deployment models such as on-premise, hybrid and cloud.
  7. Familiarity with different operating systems and virtualization technologies.
  8. Understanding of business processes and the ability to map them to technical solutions.

so as you can see yo do not need to be The One but you need to be a complete warrior to become a solution architect.

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There are several ways to improve soft skills as a solution architect:

  • Communication: Practice active listening, and work on your verbal and written communication skills. Take a course in business writing or presentation skills, and seek feedback on your communication style.
  • Leadership: Take a course in leadership or management, and seek out mentorship or coaching opportunities. Look for opportunities to lead projects or teams, and strive to build trust and respect with your team members.
  • Collaboration: Seek out opportunities to work on cross-functional teams, and actively work to build relationships with team members from different backgrounds and skill sets. Take a course in teamwork and conflict resolution.
  • Adaptability: Stay up-to-date with new technologies and industry developments, and actively seek out opportunities to learn new skills. Be open to feedback and strive to continuously improve.
  • Analytical and critical thinking skills: Practice problem-solving and decision-making, take a course in critical thinking or decision making.
  • Stakeholder management: Understand the needs and expectations of different stakeholders and align solutions accordingly, take a course in stakeholder management.
  • Time management and organization: Set clear goals and priorities, create a schedule and stick to it, and break down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks.
  • Seek feedback and mentorship: Seek feedback from colleagues, managers, and mentors, and actively work to improve areas of weakness.
  • Practice active listening: Listen carefully to others and try to understand their perspectives, take a course in active listening.
  • Networking: Attend industry events and conferences, join professional organizations, and make connections with other professionals in your field.

It's also important to remember that soft skills, like any other skills, take time to develop, and the most effective way to improve them is through practice and experience.

and the hard skills....

  • Stay current with industry developments: Follow relevant blogs, forums, and industry publications to stay up-to-date with new technologies, trends, and best practices.
  • Learn new technologies: Take courses, tutorials, or certifications in new technologies or programming languages that are relevant to your field.
  • Participate in online communities: Join online communities or forums related to your field, and participate in discussions and collaborations.
  • Practice through experimentation: Build personal projects to experiment with new technologies and techniques, this will help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different tools and technologies.
  • Attend workshops, webinars and conferences: Attend industry events and conferences to learn from experts and network with other professionals.
  • Take on challenging projects: Look for opportunities to work on complex projects that will challenge your skills and push you to learn new things.
  • Seek out mentorship or coaching: Find a mentor or coach who can provide guidance and feedback on your skills and progress.
  • Read books and articles: Read books, articles, and research papers that are relevant to your field to expand your knowledge and understanding of different topics.
  • Participate in Hackathons or CTFs: Participating in hackathons or Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions can help you to improve your skills in a fun and competitive environment.
  • Collaboration: Collaborating with other professionals in your field can provide valuable learning opportunities and help you to improve your skills.

In summary, a solution architect is a professional who is in charge of designing and implementing technology solutions to meet an organization's needs. They have a broad range of technical knowledge and experience, as well as the ability to comprehend and translate business requirements into technical specifications. They collaborate closely with other members of the organization to ensure that the solution is correctly and effectively implemented, and they are responsible for ensuring that the solution is scalable, secure, cost-effective, and in accordance with industry standards and best practices.

In the next part i will introduce you how you can build your solution architecture toolkit.

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