Saturday, September 7, 2013

Enterprise Architecture vs. Solution Architecture

A well-designed solution architecture helps to eliminate confusion, apply a holistic view, take customized approaches to each problem, and make continuous adjustments.

Enterprise Architecture should not be defined only from an IT perspective as an Enterprise is a complex socio-economic-technical ecosystem consisting of interdependent resources like people, processes, information, and technology with shared values and objective, with emerging digital enterprise, this definition will include customers and partners as well

Whereas in the case of Solution Architecture, mostly IT solution related, you may just be focusing on enabling or automating only a part of enterprise function/process, a partner or customer related service. The resources used to architect an enterprise are different (technology, process, organization structure etc.) than the ones required for Solution, where it is technology-driven;  

Enterprise Architecture should be at a higher level than that of the Solution Architecture (conceptual vs. physical). The easiest way inside an organization to eliminate the confusion is to focus on the deliverables of each role by which the scope and granularity of the models are created. In addition, the Solution Architecture deliverables should be aligned with what was defined by EA.

The Enterprise Architect is looking at the entire enterprise and is operating at a considerably higher level than the Solution Architect. Additionally, the Solution Architect has been perceived in more of an IT only role. Finally most Solution Architects are operating at a single business unit level and potentially even a single application level, as opposed to the Enterprise Architect, has the needs to have a view of the entire organization and the interaction between the entire business and IT

Mix EA with SA Activities: With the cost pressure that organizations have been facing, it is observed that organizations have started looking at a more tactical approach hence mixing EA activities with SA activities. Solution Architecture, as part of Enterprise Architecture, has the following characteristics:
(1). It is the set of principles, guidelines, etc. that describe how the components and standards of the Business, Information and Technology architectures should be used or consumed in general business "solutions." 
(2) It is the instance of how these components are applied in a specific solution situation. Either a general enterprise-wide solution or a business process specific situation.

A well-designed solution architecture helps to eliminate confusion, apply a holistic view, take customized approaches to each problem, make the continuous adjustment, conform to the well defined industrial standards, making integration and communication easier, and make the tracking of emerging issues and inconsistencies between solutions easier


If you're going to make the fair argument that Enterprise Architecture should be re-imagined as more than IT, it seems a bit odd to say a Solutions Architect is then purely limited to IT.

In my role as a Solutions Architect, I usually work at a project by project level to ensure the solution which is being produced aligns with the Enterprise Architecture & Strategy. Granted it usually involves IT, as does the overall Enterprise Architecture, but if the Enterprise Strategy encompasses other domains, then so must the work of the Solutions Architect in achieving that alignment.

I've a very trivial query about which I usually remain confused as I read more and more. Are application architect and solution architect the same thing or they are any different?

@Rasik Tiwari: Application Architects (or Technical Architect) can be App SMEs who are masters in one of more specific Apps/Technical Domains.

whereas a Solution Architect is responsible to ensure various technical domains that constitute a Solution work seamlessly together. thus Solution Architect works in close coordination with various App/Tech/Infra Architects.

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