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Enterprise vs. Solution vs. Infrastructure: Understanding the Different Technology Architectures

Enterprise vs. Solution vs. Infrastructure: Understanding the Different Technology Architectures

Enterprise vs. Solution vs. Infrastructure: Understanding the Different Technology Architectures

Understanding the Different Technology Architectures

There are many different ways to organize your company's IT architecture. Read this guide for a rundown of the different types of technology architectures.

Keyword(s): technology architectures

Technology architects work with an organization to make sure their infrastructure up to scratch. They also make sure the architecture works for the business — not against it.

These architects have different roles according to the different types of architecture deployed.

Three of these technology architectures include enterprise, solution, and infrastructure architecture. What do these three types of architecture do for a business?

Each of these types of architecture looks for options to improve the technology framework. At the same time, there are some pretty key differences between the three. The largest is the architecture's scope.

Ready to learn more? We break them down for you here.

The Three Technology Architectures

The difference between enterprise, solution, and infrastructure technology architectures exists in the scope of the architecture. In other words, each impacts different parts of the company.

The broadest is enterprise architecture, which encompasses the entire organization. The next two zero in on specific components in solution and infrastructure architecture.

Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture (EA) aligns your organization's IT infrastructure with your overall business goals. It shows you how your technology, information, and business flow together to achieve goals.

EA allows for analysis, design, planning, and implementation at an enterprise level. It perceives industry trends and navigates disruptions using a specific set of principles known as enterprise architectural planning (EAP).

The benefits of applying EA come to the fore during processes like re-organization or a merger or acquisition.

It standardizes and consolidates the process. The end result is ensuring consistency and alignment across the board.

Benefits include:

  • Open collaboration between business units and IT
  • Simpler evaluation of the present architecture compared to long-term goals
  • Comprehensive "50,000-foot" view of IT for all business units
  • Benchmarking framework for comparison of baseline against standards or competition

EA needs a guide, and that guide is an enterprise architect, who reports to the CIO.

The role of the enterprise architect includes:

  • Analyzing trends in technology architecture
  • Evaluating applications against business and enterprise standards
  • Identifying the viability of the architecture within organizational changes
  • Educating IT teams on best practices

Within EA exists four types of architecture:

TOGAF makes up 80 percent of all business framework structures. Enterprises overwhelmingly prefer it because it is all-encompassing. It also offers a common vocabulary and makes it easy to define best practices.

Solution Architecture

Solution architecture (SA) describes the architecture of a technological solution. It uses different perspectives including information, technical, and business. It also considers the solution from the point of EA.

Enterprise architects are best known for taking the "50,000-foot view" of a project. A solutions architect zones in on the details.

Solution architecture concerns itself with the technical decisions involved in organizing and implementing the solution. It then compares them to business outcomes.

The solution architect makes decisions about the nature of the solution. Those decisions might include:

  • Building vs. buying solutions
  • Technology platforms
  • Scaling the solution to integrate
  • Deploying solution components

The solution begins as a concept. But these decisions like the ones above transform it. Under the eye of a solution architect, ideas become concrete software solutions.

Solution architects aren't just designers. They also perform key roles like:

  • Managing teams during design and construction of application development
  • Mentoring and training personnel
  • Monitoring strategic relationships
  • Communicating business goals with the application development team

Finally, solution architecture doesn't leave the key stakeholders behind. It considers the needs of senior management, business users, and IT. However, it strikes a balance between the needs while still aiming for the stated business outcome.

The bottom line: solution architecture and its architects focus on technical leadership. Their job is done when everyone buys into the technical vision and understands how it contributes to the business vision.

Infrastructure Architecture

Infrastructure architecture refers to the sum of the company's hardware and IT capability. Achieving synergy between all the devices is its overarching goal.

In the past, infrastructure architecture was the focal point for security. Today, it goes further. It's a structured approach for modeling an enterprise's hardware elements. Those models also involve defining the operating relationship between them. It is a well-documented approach that includes the correct detail and abstraction as it pertains to different key stakeholders.

The key objective of infrastructure architects is ensuring that the organization's technical systems and infrastructure support the organization's requirements.

They may look at the business strategy for scaling, data security, or supporting a drive towards mobile integration.

An infrastructure architect fulfills its role by:

  • Determining technical requirements for delivering and maintaining infrastructure
  • Participating in program audits and project reviews
  • Manage technical projects
  • Manage core infrastructure
  • Recommend system technologies
  • Create and design (and redesign) technological infrastructure
  • Build consensus between teams

Infrastructure architecture doesn't offer as comprehensive a view as EA. But it does encompass more of the IT system than SA does.

Infrastructure architecture is also arguably the most changeable of the three. Big data and virtualization now mean enterprises' infrastructure is now under constant pressure. Not only are there greater technical requirements required, but both security and integration contribute to new challenges faced daily.

Become a Certified Enterprise Architect

Enterprise architecture is the broadest of the technology architectures in scope. With so many critical responsibilities, it's no wonder that certifications are in such great demand.

If you are an IT professional, getting certified is the next step in your career.

For businesses, seeking certification for teams is the critical step for aligning your IT and business goals. It also prevents you from losing both productivity and cash in the chasm that too often falls between infrastructure and goals.

Are you looking for in-house or online training? We offer training for TOGAF 9.2, ArchiMate 3.0 and IT4IT certifications. Get in touch today to start your journey towards certification.