Who is a system architect

Who is a system architect

Just as in the construction of buildings, the main task of the IT infrastructure architect is to design everything so that the design is reliable, the elements fit together perfectly and perform their functions smoothly. This is a demanding job that requires deep IT expertise and advanced management skills.

The cost of error here is extremely high. Vulnerabilities and failures in the IT-infrastructure of large customers can lead to loss of revenue worth billions of rubles, and in the case of oil companies or manufacturing plants they can even lead to an environmental disaster. A systems architect is an important person, who prevents such scenarios at the planning stage. Only a specialist with a high level of qualification can cope with such work.

Since the needs of each business are different, there are practically no universal algorithms and standard cases on the market, each project is unique. And despite the apparent monotony, this is a truly creative work, in which you can fully realize your potential.

What a system architect does

The system architect is involved to the project at the presale stage and is fully responsible for the technical part. He participates in the development of a technical and commercial proposal, he thinks in detail every element of the future system. He also negotiates the concept of the project and "sells" it to the customer - convinces him of the correctness and optimality of each solution.

After the contract is signed, the systems architect plays the role of technical project manager: assembles the team, assigns roles and supervises all processes up to the realization of the infrastructure. He works closely with the project manager, immersing himself in the peculiarities of the customer's IT infrastructure and taking into account all the specific requirements.

Where this kind of specialist is in demand

Wherever digital transformation takes place, powerful and complex IT infrastructures are created. For example, in projects for large state corporations, which differ not only in scale, but also in high level of criticality and importance.

Most often these projects are implemented by systems integrators, where system architects work. Depending on the scale of the project, it can involve either one or several system architects.

The key skills of a systems architect

The position implies many years of experience. Therefore, only theoretical knowledge is not enough here. You need to understand how different solutions fit together, where the problems can arise, and be able to thoroughly calculate the risks. It is important to see the big picture, but at the same time be perfectly aware of each component of the IT infrastructure.

This can only be gained through practice. In the case of the public sector, it is also necessary to take into account the requirements associated with the import substitution policy, and to implement Russian solutions into existing systems with precision.

In addition to extensive knowledge in IT, an architect must have a number of supra-core skills or soft skills. First of all, they are communicative. He must be able to formulate his ideas intelligently, both in writing and orally. He will have to communicate a lot with customers, politely, but persistently defend his point of view, set goals and motivate the team. And in some cases - to work in liaison with other architects.

It is necessary to be able to plan and conduct presentations, to "sell" your ideas. Another important skill is time management, as you will have to manage not only your own time, but also correctly distribute the load within the project team.

How to become a systems architect

Since the position implies extensive experience with IT infrastructure, system architects do not become system architects immediately after graduation from university. When choosing this career field, it is important to understand that the career growth will not be fast. But a specialist is guaranteed to get an interesting job at a solid and stable company.

Since it is not so easy to find a ready-to-work professional with the right background and necessary expertise on the market, integrators prefer to develop specialists inside their companies. They actively invest in training and try to retain talented and motivated employees by all available means for as long as possible so that these investments are not wasted. This is why well-known IT integrators usually have very low staff turnover.

Most often, system architects become employees who started their career as expert designers. In some companies, they are called technical writers. And this is no accident, because documentation design is one of the key functions of system architects. In order to successfully implement a large-scale project, a detailed description is required. It includes a rationale for the choice of architecture for each proposed solution and detailed instructions on their operation for administrators on the customer side.

The designer is engaged in the elaboration of all of these aspects at the level of documentation.

In parallel, he develops on an individual trajectory - he develops his knowledge and skills under the guidance of senior mentors, undergoes internal and external training and certification by vendors. Gradually he takes on more and more complex, creative and responsible tasks - from a junior expert he becomes a senior expert, then a leader. The next step is already a system architect.

How long do you wait for career growth?

Everyone has very different rates of growth. It happens that young professionals with great ambitions, after a brisk start, stop developing in the middle of the road. And sometimes it is just the opposite. 

Professionals grow quickly on challenging projects that usually last at least a year. During this time, you can learn a lot and express yourself brightly. That is why I advise young employees to be proactive and look for challenges. If the project is easy and comfortable, it means that you have outgrown it.

What you need to know and be able to do on entering the profession

To get a job as a designer, you need to have an idea of the basic concepts and principles of building IT infrastructure, know the major vendors and understand their products. It is necessary to have a completed technical education. As with any position in technology, you need to be able to read and write documentation.

But above all, you must have an compelling desire to work in IT, the ability to learn quickly and to assimilate vast amounts of information. Attention to detail is another important factor, without which it is impossible to work successfully as a designer.

Briefly about the main points

  1. The system architect is an important specialist in the structure of a system integrator, without whom it is impossible to build any IT-infrastructure.
  2. To work as a system architect, you need to have extensive experience and deep knowledge in IT.
  3. In addition, it is important to have excellent communication skills, presentation skills and the ability to lead a team.
  4. It is possible to grow to a systems architect through a position as a designer, expert or engineer.
  5. Fast growth usually occurs on the most complex projects.