What might the job description for an enterprise-minded, SOA architect read like? Good question -- and one that ZapThink's Ron Schmelzer takes on in a recent piece. That person would excel at:
Communication: "...a key duty of the architect is the ability to keep one leg firmly planted in the business and its requirements so that IT can always be responsive to the business, and not vice-versa... An architect can translate ill-defined, abstract, or incomplete business requirements into a set of Service definitions or a model for how to define those Services in spite of ongoing, unpredictable change... Having a good architect in place will prevent the rest of IT from speaking directly to the business organization, which is in fact a good thing."
Simplification: "[T]he enterprise architect has a key role in distilling the complexity of the business world into a set of more easily understood Service definitions, processes, and associated metadata. Likewise, the architect needs to simplify the complicated morass of IT technologies and infrastructure into a set of reusable Services and contracts that define the obligation of IT to meet ongoing, changing business requirements."
Pragmatism: "Good architects must...make realistic, step-wise improvements to the business use of IT. Since business users and individuals within IT each see the elephant that is IT through their own perspectives, the architect must be able to see the elephant for what it is, maintaining a pragmatic mental picture for how the organization can evolve iteratively while still maintaining a single, cohesive vision of the organization’s architecture."
That's not all, of course. This individual also must be a "champion of thrift" (able to stretch a dollar) and a "master of best practice" (able to stretch an idea).
Architects may arise out of the arena of business or IT, contends Schmelzer. "[W]hat is required here is for the new breed of architect to develop in such a way that they are capable of thinking in terms of in the agile, flexible, Service-oriented way that the business requires."
In short, we are on the lookout for a Renaissance man (or woman): "A successful SOA demands that you develop your communication, simplification, economic, leadership, and best practices skills," he concludes. "If you can pull all these disparate capabilities together, you will be seen not only as the individual who can make SOA happen, but finally give companies the architecture they’ve needed since the dawn of IT."