Solution architecture refers to all the tasks related to software development in a software consulting & development company that deal with the customer and business side of things and often covers how the company’s products will solve a particular business problem upon deployment. Software architecture on the other hand refers to the specifics of how a particular software solution will be developed and implemented including the language that should be used, how to maximize the use of existing APIs, creating new APIs, etc. Solution architecture looks at the business side of things while Software architecture looks at the application development side of things.
While a solution architect deals with clients and makes the business decisions related to a particular software product, a software architect deals with the technical aspects of product development including design and actual development. Solution architecture involves considerations of costs and the software program’s effectiveness in helping customers turn a profit while software architecture is concerned with how well a software solution does what it was developed to do and the technical decisions that need to be made during development.
Given that solutions architecture focuses on how a software program can deal with a business challenge, a solution architect must be business savvy. He must know how to make business analysis of any software solution the software company creates for its clientele. Unlike software architecture, solutions architecture is a combination of business analysis, project management and systems architecture.
Solutions architecture will often involve:
- Working with customers to evaluate how the software is being used and whether it is helping them achieve their business goals
- Making a determination of whether a certain customer would be better served by the software it is customized for their particular business environment
- Specify to customers the hardware requirements necessary to run the software and identifying the resources that the customer as well as the software deployment will need to set aside for a successful deployment
- Be at the fore in planning and guiding the delivery process including deployment and acceptance
- Seeks to understand a customer’s challenges and presents the best possible software solution for the customer to consider
- Includes the prioritization of the solutions that the software company needs to create for its various customers
Software architecture defines and structures software solutions to meet operational and technical requirements. It deals with the technical decisions aspects of software development like security, manageability and performance. Ultimately, these decisions have a direct impact on the quality of the software solutions developed and their overall success. Software architecture clearly outlines the process to be followed during the design and construction of a software system. The typical design decisions a software architect has to make include application structure, application behavior, application interaction and every non-functional property of the application in development. The purpose of software architecture is to make software engineering possible against the set requirements.
A software architect must clearly understand all functionality proposed by the solution architect to craft the software architecture. This often includes:
- Come up with several potential approaches to developing the actual piece of software with all the expected features
- Preparing an architectural design that the software developers will use to develop the application
- Leading the conceptualization and implementation of long term strategies in system development
- Evaluating available techniques and tools and creating a common ground that developers can use to perform their daily duties
Solution architecture and software architecture are two separate disciplines with each having its distinct purpose. All the same, a solution architect should also be a software architect if he is to deliver solutions that satisfy the customer while meeting industry standards to create secure applications that meet all necessary technical standards.