We all know that architecture in an IT setting has many definitions and explanations which inevitably means that those calling themselves architects come in just as many flavors as their role descriptions. Given the rise of web-native software in the Web 2.0 space, could we see the emergence of a specific Web Architect role? If so, how would this differ from other technie-architect roles such as the popular ‘Software Architect’ or its synonym ‘Application Architect’? I mean, isn’t web-native software just software and it is the environment and medium that is calling for specificity? I don’t know the answer but let’s think this through shall we?
To frame the analysis a bit let’s think of other techie-architect roles. I’ve heard of Infrastructure Architect, a broad discipline often encompassing roles like Server Architect, Storage Architect, Network Architect, Messaging Architect, and in some cases and by some views even a Data Architect (among others). There is Solutions Architect, which like its Infrastructure counterpart encompasses specific roles, for example Application or Software Architect, Integration Architect, or again Data Architect (…). What makes the distinguishing case for each? Well, a Storage Architect for example would be focusing on technology-specific elements such as SANs or NAS devices and the topologies associated with them, a Network Architect would similarly focus on network-specific devices and topologies. The Software/Application Architect is more broad but focuses on application platform technologies and environments such as Java EE or .NET, usually associated with a mid-market to enterprise setting (in terms of scale). Integration Architects would focus on middleware and integration scenarios for data and software. Of course, regardless of particular discipline there is a knowledge of best practices, patterns, standards, and reference architectures that an architect should be expertly aware of which further distinguishes him/her from their fellow engineers. There are much more competencies required to be an architect that is outside the scope of this examination, but can be alluded to here. The nutshell here is scope. Now let’s take a look at Web Architect.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for a Software/Application Architect with web knowledge to transition to a specific Web Architect distinction, but given the differences between Web 2.0 application development and Web 1.0 application development, there would be much experience to be gained on the former.