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Solution architecture assesses a business's need for integration of technologies in existing businesses and facilities. Typically, a solution architect uses his or her technological knowledge and expertise, coupled with comprehension of standard business, manufacturing, and construction practices, to devise plans to integrate systems from differing departments within an organization. Organizing all of the closed systems into one open system allows communications, data flows, uniform security systems, and operational reliability throughout an entire enterprise. Each business is different, and each business is likely to have a variety of technological devices already in place. Solution architecture is usually asked to provide solutions that will meet the needs of stakeholders, management teams, supply chains, and vendors, for better interactions and productivity in the future.
A solution architect may be hired to provide implementation of some types of middleware, which allows closed systems using differing operating systems to interact and share data on dedicated data servers. Middleware is software that sits between operating systems and applications software, providing interoperability between legacy databases and operating systems and their newer versions. In addition, sometimes a company may need construction of a new telecommunications network within the company that ties in or replaces a company’s existing intranet. In a manufacturing facility, the automation and control systems on a factory floor may need interoperability with the management and business departments to increase information flow.
Analysis of existing frameworks and the business requirements of a plant or enterprise must also consider project constraints, such as those enforced by a project manager’s deliverability of budget and manpower to construct solutions for a business. Drawing on domain architect experience in networking, systems, software, and other domains, a solution architect can formulate a design and inform users from management on down in the new flow of operations. The expertise of a solution architect is aided by knowing the technology options on the market and how those options may or may not suit the particular business’s needs.
Companies in the past decade have offered complete solution architecture setups for changeovers in manufacturing facilities. Often, the monitoring stations and robotics machinery on a production line may have little report capability to produce for the business offices, supply chains, or vendors. One particular type of solution architecture is known as Ethernet-to-the-Factory (EttF), and this replaces or upgrades much of the legacy hardware on factory floors, as well as providing more modern networking solutions for manufacturing database systems.