Readers react to "Out of the Tower; Into the Trenches"

The Architect Community column in the November/December 2011 issue of Oracle Magazine focused on why IT architects are often subject to disrespect and disregard from development teams. Given the title of the article -- Out of the Tower; Into the Trenches -- I wasn't at all surprised that several readers took the time to email their comments to the magazine's editors. Those readers were kind enough to grant permission to post their comments here.

One of those readers is Zoran Gligorevic, an enterprise architect whose experience spans "25 years, 20 companies, and 10 countries." He says that because the title "architect" is so highly desirable (ranked the #1 job in the US in a 2010 CNN/Money poll) it attracts many who lack the necessary knowledge and experience.

"In my experience," says Gligorevic, "60% of architects on the market are all talk, just pretending to be architects. Very often, when developers or application operators lack respect for an IT architect it's because that architect has less knowledge and experience than the developers." 

Gligorevic suggests that those who crave the architect title but lack the ability to design application software should try to find a position as a business architect -- but only if the candidate has a thorough understanding of business processes.

Itsik Rubin, an applications architect, believes that the more developers are "part of the furniture," the greater the divide and discontent. "I find in such cases there is a significant lack in governance," Rubin says. "Working to fill up this gap does not take the resentment and disrespect away but definitely goes a long way in ensuring that the architect's recommendations are being implemented."

Robert Gordon, a data architect, sees similarities between the disrespect developers have toward IT architects and the reason drivers hate traffic lights, especially drivers who are late for work.

"If management doesn't have a problem with shoddy islands of automation haphazardly slapped together as quickly as humanly possible, and doesn't mind dealing with constant rework and outright re-development, then they should just do away with the architecture function altogether and save money," says Gordon. "On the other hand, if management buys into the potential for architecture to add significant value to the enterprise in the long run, they should be the ones to push an architecture mentality as a cultural change for all of IT, really all of the business. A culture of merely getting projects done as quickly and cheaply as possible constitutes a dangerous game of 'name that tune,' that in the long run often imposes more costs and consumes more time than the original budget and schedule portrayed, long after all the accolades and awards have been doled out to the original project team members! The role and importance of architecture should be included in developer training so that the architects don't need to waste valuable time enlightening the masses at the beginning of every project."

Ganesh Prasad, a consultant architect with WSO2, says that it isn't always possible for architects to get into the trenches, as the article suggests. "Architects are required to charge at least part of their time to projects, and project managers are keen to minimise the burn rate of their projects and hence will not encourage architect involvement beyond the necessary minimum (e.g., design review meetings or working group meetings). Enterprise funding of architecture is a solution to this particular problem, but it makes architects a more visible target to IT management because they're now seen as an overhead," Prasad says. "There are no easy answers."

Perhaps not, but at least there is conversation around solving the problem.  

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