Systems Architect

It is unlikely that anyone will argue with the fact that all the splendor of our technical civilization surrounding us and the overwhelming number of all kinds of innovations from shovels and computers to spaceships, robots and artificial intelligence were invented, designed, created, maintained and continuously modernized by a worldwide community of engineers. However, if you are convinced that in fact all this was invented, created, etc., for example, exclusively by the proletariat or graduates of the MBA, you will either have to accept the above on faith or read it to the finish.

Both today and in the foreseeable future, system architects will be the most demanded and scarce resource in any rapidly developing industry, especially in the field of system integration. Moreover, the maturity of management in a particular organization can be judged by the degree and quality of use of system architects. And according to the assessment of their work, too. In many respects, this is why a significant part of young specialists who are still ahead are interested in obtaining information about the profession of systems architect. What exactly?

If you think that the Creator was not the first system architect, then you cannot read further this article.

About competencies

Of course, engineers have various specializations, skills, horizons, competencies, and experience. And if you build a pyramid from them, taking into account all this, then at the top there will be people who were previously called chief designers, but today in different organizations they are more often called system, sometimes complex architects, or business architects, which is essentially the same. But the main thing is that these names mean those who pronounce them.

Note that this is an example of just two projections of truth. The networker sees the Internet as a collection of routers connected by communication channels and terminal devices connected in the “last mile”. The infrastructure manager is aware of the availability of telecommunications but gives priority to where the content transmitted over the network is stored and how it is generated. Developers are often stuck with the framework of environments (development, test, pre-sales, finished products), etc. A system architect is obliged to see and understand all of the above persons, and the user who leafs through the social network feed, the businessman who owns this social network, and a lot of people involved in the process. In general, he is obliged to understand what and from whom he needs.

In relation to system architects, there are much more different hypostases. In the simplest case, an “advanced” engineer is a specialist in a particular system and knows what can be built from it and where it can be applied. Yes, he is sometimes called a system architect, but he is a “warrior of light” exclusively in his field. This field can be a system/systems of a specific supplier or systems produced by many suppliers, but with their own characteristics (for example, switching systems or database management systems). In some foreign companies, such specialists are called certified engineers, while in our country they are called leading engineers.

The main content of the profession of systems architect is a systems approach and systems engineering thinking. In a huge number of projects, many diverse systems and various solutions usually coexist, which implies the presence of specialists at a higher level. Accordingly, systems engineering thinking is the use of a systems approach in engineering. In turn, systems engineering can be defined as the totality of ways to create a successful system (that is, satisfying all the needs of customers, users, and other stakeholders) based on an interdisciplinary approach that involves working with various engineering specialties.

A system can be anything from a complex of information systems to entire industrial enterprises (industrial groups), including technological and production processes, logistics, business processes, as well as equipment and buildings. And if for a leading engineer the system is, say, a server farm, combined into a computer complex using infrastructure software, for a system architect, a system is a working complex, where such a farm is a small unit. For example, a large shopping center operated by a company with optimally staffed personnel, the ratio of its own staff and contract/outsourcing is optimally selected, all the necessary systems have been designed and implemented (information, engineering, parking, security systems …), an optimal plan of interaction with tenants has been developed … Moreover, the IT infrastructure here is far from the first in terms of tasks. In other words, a system architect solves a business problem, and a system for him is an enterprise, organization, industry with all processes, people and mechanisms.

Accordingly, an interdisciplinary approach implies working not only with engineering specialties but with all specialties that will be necessary for the implementation of a particular system (project). In particular, if we take the well-known state-owned corporation Roscommon, then in the projects it implements it is not difficult to see a place for mechanical engineers, electronics engineers, and civil engineers, as well as for rocket launchers, ballistics, cryogenics, psychologists, physicians, astronomers, signalmen, programmers, financiers, lawyers, etc. And each project will need system architects of different levels. How to understand what exactly you will need in a particular project?

See the essence of the problem

It is no secret that to solve any problem it is necessary to use knowledge, often deeply professional, and the set of necessary professions for each problem is specific. Sometimes this creates the impression that the problems of specialists in each industry are very different from each other. The specifics of problems come to the fore, which everyone can deal with, even crisis managers. Of course, to solve a specific problem, special, sometimes very deep professional knowledge is needed. But there is another approach called system analysis. This is a universal algorithm of actions to solve problems, suitable in any profession, which the system architect uses in his daily practice.

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