The Skillset of the Software Architect

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Software Architect Photo by @tec_estromberg

Photo by @tec_estromberg

Are you a software architect? Perhaps you sling code better than your peers-and it’s good code. Your tests pass, your apps scale, and you make good design decisions. Congratulations, you have paid your ante – now what?.

“The technical skills of any profession are vitally important. Without them You’re not even in the game. However, even with them, you’re only in the game.”

Larry Benet

On the NFJS tour, we have the opportunity to spend time with many accomplished architects. In fact, one of the reasons our tour stops are held over weekends is because we want speakers who not only understand the theoretical but are also active practitioners of their craft.


Software Architec Nathaniel Schutta

Nathaniel Schutta

One of our tour regulars, Nathaniel Schutta, software architect, author, and educator, said very succulently “At the end of the day, an architect’s primary job is to communicate.” You simply cannot be effective in this role without excellent communication skills. It’s important to be able to communicate the design and goals to the team but it’s equally important to be able to discuss budgets and strategy with executives who might care little for the technical details. Beyond this, of course, it’s important to speak persuasively both as an advocate for change and as a leader of development.

Your communication skills will also affect whether the architecture group is perceived as “a group of ivory tower dilettantes intent on saying NO while filling a whiteboard with boxes and arrows” or as a key component to delivering rock solid software.


“If you’re not terrified, you’re not paying attention”

Brian Sletten

Software Architec Brian Sletten

Brian Sletten

There are many challenges facing modern software developers. Decisions around security must be made as deliberately as what technology stack we use.

We have a variety of tools and techniques for managing identity, authentication, authorization, and encryption. The goal of an architect should be going beyond the ‘how’ of these tools and be able to delve deeper into the ‘why.’ “Technologies don’t magically become solutions. They are used within domain, design and deployment contexts.”

Some of Brian’s most popular sessions delve deep into each of these subjects.

Software Architect Ksenia Dmitrieva

Ksenia Dmitrieva

In an architect role, with the additional privileges comes additional responsibility. Knowing how to secure a system also requires understanding how to identify and model security threats.

This requires going beyond static code analysis and penetration testing as there are vulnerabilities that cannot be found using those techniques alone.


“The interactions between the different systems are beyond the code review level and the complex interconnections are often not reachable from the penetration tester’s point of view. ”

Ksenia Dmitrieva

Architecture Decision Making

Software Architect Mark Richards

Mark Richards

Let’s face it, you probably didn’t begin your current tenure as an Architect in a beautiful, lush green field. In fact, this author will lay nine-to-one odds you’re working with a legacy monolith. Part of the job of an architect is the wisdom and experience to balance pragmatism with the need to evolve architecture to remain competitive. Understanding when to refactor (and when not too) is key.

There are a number of tools and techniques for making these decisions effectively. Neal Ford, Director, Software Architect, and Meme Wrangler at ThoughtWorks has popularized the concept of a Technology Radar

Neal Ford

Neal Ford

“A Technology Radar is a tool that forces you to organize and think about near term future technology decisions, both for you and your company.”

Neal Ford

Neal Ford, along with Mark Richards, created the wildly popular O’Reilly series, “Software Architecture Fundamentals” but Neal also teaches interesting tools and techniques to make decisions to balance capabilities vs constraints and using hypothesis-driven-development in combination with continuous delivery to become truly agile.

Stay up to date

Software Architect Venkat Subramaniam

Venkat Subramaniam

Our industry moves fast. Microservices, current cloud architecture patterns and tools. When you’re “in the trenches” as an architect you’re often writing substantially less code, and it’s easy to miss seismic shifts in the industry and best practices.

We’ve created a space where you can learn from the very latest tools and trends from best minds in the industry. Not for the faint of heart or for the casual conference goer, ArchConf sessions run from 8:00AM until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. No matter where you are in your Journey, there is more for your to learn. Check out the full ArchConf schedule here.

If you’re ready to level up your architect game, join us at ArchConf West.


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