IT Architecture career

I found IT architecture to be the ideal career for me because I’m a dabbler. I want to know everything at some level. IT architecture let me get some insight and participation in many other careers since there is very little that does not use computers. In the course of designing systems for other people, you spend a lot of time with them, learning about their jobs, so you can understand how you can help them. Personally, I worked with

  • River modeling and flood forecasting
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Many things governments do, including social services, taxation, health care, various registries (land, property, vehicles,….), defence
  • Bioinformatics
  • Defence
  • Financial Services

and many more. I worked with civil servants, scientists, First Nations, charities, banks and others, from the front-line workers to senior executives. I worked on location in most Canadian Provinces, several US States, Netherlands, UK, Czech Republic, as well as several other countries via video conference, and taught in France and Poland as well.

I also got time to do my own research and develop courses.

When I taught IT architecture. I usually asked each class if their significant others knew what they did for a living. The answer was usually “no”. So the odds are you don’t either. I’ll try to explain.

There are several kinds of IT Architects, with various specialties, such as infrastructure, security, applications. I started off as a programmer and worked my way through application architecture (designing the functional software) to being chief architect where I had to do a bit of everything and integrate the whole thing into one big system. Generally speaking, there are two main jobs. You get to be in charge of the technical aspects of the whole system or a subsystem. You are responsible for the design and for providing technical leadership to the team who builds your piece. You usually are, or report to the chief architect. You usually work extremely closely with your best friend, the Project Manager (PM). If you are on the application side or chief architect, you spend a lot of time with your clients at every level of their organization.

Since I had the programming skills, I would also review the technical designs and code of developers. In the end, I had overall responsibility for the technical success of the project, so had to make sure everything was going to work. Although the PM was responsible for schedule and budget, I would usually do most of the estimating and help the PM keep on track. Since the projects were often for tens or hundreds of million dollars, this could be a bit stressful.

If this is of any interest to you, “like” the posts on Twitter or comment on this blog, and I’ll write some more. Perhaps some anecdotes and what you need to do if you may be interested in IT architecture.