In today's digital age, it's hard to imagine an organization that does not rely on software in some way. Whether it’s a simple company website or a complex suite of applications, software is an essential tool for businesses of all sizes. With so much riding on it, it’s no surprise that companies employ software architects to design and maintain their software systems.
What is a Software Architect?
A software architect is a professional who designs, develops, and implements software systems, ensuring that they are scalable, efficient, and secure while meeting an organization's needs. They collaborate closely with development teams and stakeholders to ensure that the software system aligns with the organization's goals and objectives.
The difference between software architects and network architects
A software architect oversees the software systems that a company uses – the programs, applications, and modules that enable productive work to be done. They focus on this software’s functional requirements, performance, scalability, security, and maintainability.
A network architect is responsible for the connectivity and operability of computer networks – not just the data sent back and forth, but also the physical hardware like routers, modems, and servers. They focus on the network's connectivity, bandwidth, reliability, and security.
Think of it this way: network architects build a pipeline, and software architects provide the oil that flows through it.
Want to know more about network architects instead? Read our blog about them here!
What Do Software Architects Do?
These architects are essential to companies that use data and technology in their operations. Among other things, their role includes:
Ensuring the software system meets business needs, by working closely with stakeholders to understand the organization and design software systems.
Scalability of systems as an organization grows, so that it can handle the organization's current needs and future growth.
Cost savings, through bespoke designs that reduce maintenance costs and improve efficiency.
Integration with other systems, since many organizations have multiple software systems that need to work together (think MacBooks and Windows PCs). Software architects allow for seamless communication and collaboration between different departments.
Software architecture patterns
Architects generally follow one of five main ways to build out software, depending on the organization and what it requires.
Layered architecture organizes code into tiers that work from top to bottom, providing benefits such as separation of concerns, easy updates, and maintainability. However, there can be drawbacks such as slow code and complex interdependencies.
Event-driven architecture uses a central unit that delegates data to modules, offering benefits such as scalability and adaptability but sometimes leading to other issues such as messaging overhead, complex testing, and difficult error handling.
Microkernel architecture has a central microkernel (that is, a minimalist OS with only basic functions) with added features, offering flexibility and easy upgrades for applications with core sets of operations.
Microservices architecture structures applications as a collection of services that communicate over APIs, providing scalability and maintenance advantages, but also increasing complexity.
Space-based architecture creates virtual space for services to communicate, providing scalability and resilience benefits, but it can be complex and costly with a steep learning curve.
Software Architect Skills
Successful software architects have a combination of technical skills and soft skills. These include:
Technical knowledge: A software architect has a deep understanding of software development, including programming languages, software design patterns, and software development methodologies. They are able to make strategic decisions about the design of software systems, including which technologies to use, how to structure the system, and how to manage complexity.
Communication skills: software architects can communicate complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders, such as project managers and business leaders. This is crucial for ensuring that the software development process is aligned with the business goals of the organization.
Problem-solving skills: Software architects must solve complex problems that arise during the design and implementation of software systems.
Leadership skills: Software architects often lead teams of software developers and engineers. They need to motivate and inspire their teams to achieve the organization's goals.
Benefits of having a software architect
Having a software architect brings many benefits to an organization. Among the best ones for sustainable business success are:
Improved system design: A software architect can design better systems, which can reduce development and maintenance costs.
Reduced risks: An experienced software architect can help identify potential risks early in the development process and mitigate them, which can prevent costly errors and delays later.
Standardization: Someone in this role can ensure that systems are designed and implemented in a consistent and standardized way, which can improve code quality, maintainability, and ease of use.
Better communication: This role liaises between technical and non-technical stakeholders, translating complex concepts into clear instructions.
Future-proofing: A software architect can design systems with future changes and updates in mind, which can save time and resources down the line.
Hiring a software architect
If your organization needs a software architect, here are some tips for hiring the right person:
It’s all about the experience: Software architects need to have proven experience designing and implementing software systems, generally acquired as they’ve worked their way up from software engineering and development.
Check for certifications: There are several certifications that software architects can earn, such as the Certified Professional for Software Architecture (CPSA) and the Professional Software Engineering Master Certification.
Evaluate their soft skills: A software architect that lacks the proper interaction and leadership skills will not go very far in inspiring or communicating to the rest of their team. Certifications only go so far – so check the personality, too.
If your company is dependent on a lot of programs playing nicely together (and most modern companies are), having a software architect in your company is one of the best investments you can make. From improved project outcomes and better technical decision-making to enhanced team collaboration and reduced development costs, the right person can be worth their weight in gold.
If you are looking to hire the best talent in the field of software architecture, reach out to Talint Solutions – we lead our industry with decades of collective experience, specializing in the placement of critical IT roles like this. We put the right people in the right places…so let us help you succeed!