Bernard Delsaux

Freelance Senior Consultant
IT Solutions & Security Architectures



Information Systems Architecture

Common Definition

The architect has a responsibility for ensuring the completeness (fitness-for-purpose) of the architecture, in terms of adequately addressing all the pertinent concerns of its stakeholders; and the integrity of the architecture, in terms of connecting all the various views to each other, and showing the trade-offs made in so doing (as between security and performance, for example).

An IT architect has professional relationships with executives of the enterprise to gather and articulate the technical vision, and to produce the strategic plan for realizing it. This plan is always tied to the business plans of the enterprise, and design decisions are traceable to them.
[TOGAF; The Open Group].

Enterprise and Solutions Architecture

Enterprise Architecture is a discipline that ensures Business-IT alignment through architectural oversight and guidance. It provides enterprises with a multi-dimensional model to analyse and determine the right set of IT-related decisions to enable and support business strategies. The model traditionally combines four major dimensions (business, information, application and technical) that allow unéderstanding and maximising IT assets while planning for future growth and investment. As such, EA appears as a long term activity standing at strategic and planning levels where immediate return is not assured.

Implementing the (long term) Plan triggers the execution of programmes and projects which usually require immediate solutions. Short term delivery is imposed by pressing time-to-market conditions, but brings in the risk to leave open gaps between realisations and the overall blueprint objectives. This is where the Solutions Architecture discipline comes into play by providing bridges between possibly disjoint project constructions (i.e. filling the gaps) and the overall blueprint (i.e. understanding and keeping strategic direction).

Solutions Architect’s Responsibilities

The Solutions Architect is responsible for the development of the overall vision that underlies the projected solution and transforms it through execution into the expected product. They become involved with a project at the time of inception, in the analysis of the initial requirements although their specificity is to put a particular attention to the elaboration phase products (the system lifecycle architecture being a specific milestone of this phase). They possibly remain involved throughout the course of the project, intervening at major milestones such as kick-off of construction, integration and acceptance testing; launch sign-off, etc.

The SA elaboration phase consists in producing the traditional EA views, adapted to the specific project in execution, complemented by other transversal views, in order to satisfy all stakeholders’ requirements (mainly non functional such as physical and environmental constraints, risks and security, business continuity and resilience, operability and support, etc.).

Solutions Architect’s Skills

Solutions Architects are expert in many categories. They have extensive hands-on experience in multiple industries and across several disciplines pertaining to requirements elicitation and modelling, software and systems engineering, information and communications technology, security, methodology and quality assurance, etc.

Moreover, domain or technical expertise must necessarily be complemented with a set of senior as well as “soft” skills such as: ability to manage projects or lead teams; good communication to execution teams, peers or upper management; pragmatism and sense of economy…

All combined with a good resistance to pressure and stress (sense of humour usually helps too).

(c) 2011 Bernard Delsaux, Move, Brussels - Http://