Somehow, I like to start with definitions cos I feel someone reading may not know what I’m speaking about or may not understand.
So, the first term I’m defining is Solutions Architect. In simple terms, a solutions architect is a problem solver. one way to think about this role is to look at the second part of the phrase – Architect. An architect is a builder. He/She sees an end result in his/her mind’s eyes and work with the civil engineers and other construction workers to bring that vision/dream to light. A solution Architect does the exact same thing with solving problems by using IT technology.
Now, because a solution architect uses technology to solve problems, they need to understand the foundations and basics of that technology (Information Technology in this case). This is why great solution architects were once hard core engineers who had gotten their hands dirty in implimenting technology solutions.
This brings me to how I started my career in IT. My journey started around 18 years ago 2003. I was in my second or third year in my bachelor’s degree for the Electrical and Computer Engineering course.
At the time I knew almost nothing about IT or computers. Those days we had mostly desktop computers and I didn’t have one. Windows ME & Windows 2000 were the most popular OSes at the time. There was also Ubuntu 6 or so (I can’t remember the first version I installed). They used to ship the disks then.
A friend and neighbor gave me his desktop computer and that’s what got me hooked. He gave me one advise then which I have cherished till today and have told others I mentor – “use it, break it and fix it”. I did break the PC several times and he was always available to help me whenever I escalated to him.
Because of my inquisitive nature, I remember he used to call me Doctor Q. Q was for questions not quantum. Even though quantum would have been a very cool superhero name 😁. I had been very curious even as a young boy. I always felt ever problem had a solution even in play.
Curiousity – the key to architecting
Fast forward many year into the future, my curiousity had grown especially in technology. I took my first certification in 2007. This was the CompTIA Network +. I felt then that networking was the foundation so that influenced my decision to do this exam. I had to convince my mum then to help with the funds for this. I’m so glad she did. Thanks mum!
I think curiosity is everything. It’s the underlying motivation to learn. It’s a characteristic where you acknowledge you don’t know everything and perhaps there are better ways to do things. I’m always nervous about people who aren’t curious about anything in the world. – Simon Sinek
The reason why I believe curiousity is the key to architecting is because this character compels my mind to see things where others may not and especially to see solutions to problems around me that others may miss. In my head, I’m constantly asking why. I am constantly questioning whether a current solution is the best. Sometimes, this means I question a solution I had already worked on. (Sometimes I mistake this habit or character for perfectionism)
As I bring this post to a close, my advise for upcoming Architects is to cultivate a curious mind. Remember that every problem has a solution. Don’t give up when you hit several brick walls. The walls will eventually break down and you’ll be delighted to see that your persistence paid off.
It also feels very good to see a solution born out of your persistence and to see that you, yes, you! can come up with a solution to what was once a problem folks struggled with.
One last quote from Aaron Swartz.
Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.