Synopsis: Many architects come from the ranks of good developers, but not every good developer wants to be an architect, nor are all of them suited for the role. Whether you're a developer contemplating a career shift or a manager looking for suitable candidates for an architectural responsibility, it's important to have a well-informed perspective on this transition. This article discusses the journey from implementation specialization to architecture.
The article is just a collection of my observations of developers and architects, as well as my own experiences in both roles. Here's the introductory section:
When you look for a good musical conductor, you start by looking for a good musician. But not every good musician makes a good conductor. The situation is similar in the professional development of architects. More and more IT organizations are understanding the importance of sound software architecture, and the architect profession is rapidly emerging as a separate discipline within IT. This presents some fresh challenges to management as they look to recruit architects from a fairly small labor pool.[...] The fastest way over these hurdles is to understand that most good architects are also good developers, so probably the first place to look for architect talent is among the ranks of regular developers.[...]
This article outlines what it takes for a developer to become an architect. I'll present the perspective of a developer who might be considering such a move, as well as that of a manager assessing developers for such a transition. I'll also provide a series of factors to consider when making these decisions.
I'll be writing a few more articles on the architect's profession for IBM developerWorks. A few years ago I wrote “A custom-fit career in app development”, an article discussing how developers can build a career without being enslaved to the mainstream of technology trends.