What is a data architect?

What is a data architect?

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A data architect translates business and procedural requirements into a holistic data architecture. He is responsible for the design, implementation and maintenance of this architecture. His responsibilities include selecting the technology stack, deciding on on-premises or cloud-based architectures, and defining data sources. Compared to the data engineer, he is less practical and more conceptual and strategic.

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The German term for data architect is data architect. It is a position in the IT environment that translates a company’s business and procedural requirements for collecting, processing and storing data into an appropriate, holistic data architecture. The data architect is responsible for the design, implementation and maintenance of this data architecture. The goal of his work is that data can be handed out, processed and stored in such a way that the company’s processes are optimally supported and no compliance requirements are violated.

The position as data architect can be filled internally or externally in a company. For example, the data architect defines the technology stack, enforces the decision for on-premises or cloud-based architectures and platforms, selects data sources, and determines which IT and database management systems are used. In certain areas of his work, close collaboration with other IT positions such as data engineers or database administrators is necessary.

While the data architect follows a conceptual, strategic and sometimes visionary approach to work, the work of a data engineer or database administrator is more practical. The data architecture is designed at a high level. The practical implementation of the data architecture is carried out by IT specialists under the management and guidance of the data architect. If a company’s data architecture requirements change, the data architect is responsible for making the necessary adjustments.

A data architect’s tasks

A data architect must handle a number of different tasks. The most important tasks of the data architect are the design, implementation, maintenance and further development of a holistic data architecture. It must be consistent with a company’s business needs, processes and workflows. To this end, the data architect designs and maintains a data model, identifies data sources, designs data flows, and defines interfaces. The data architect leads or accompanies implementation and practical implementation in the IT systems. Other typical Data Architect responsibilities include:

  • Organization of high-level data
  • Big data infrastructure design
  • Deciding on on-premises or cloud-based architectures
  • Interface functions in the company
  • Coordinate and collaborate with IT professionals such as data engineers or database administrators
  • Management of data architecture projects
  • Advising the management as a data expert
  • Definition and control tasks of data governance
  • Determination of organizational structures and responsibility for the data architecture
  • Development of archiving and storage concepts
  • conceptual consideration of the requirements for data security and data protection

A data architect needs these skills

Data architects need both technical and conceptual, business and entrepreneurial skills to translate business and procedural requirements into an appropriate, holistic data model. Therefore, data architects often have a degree in computer science and/or business administration. They are more IT generalists than IT practitioners.

The necessary skills are in-depth knowledge of information and database management and data modeling, a good overview of technology (including cloud computing), basic knowledge of software development, knowledge of data protection and data security, know-how in data law, conceptual thinking, and a structured way of working on and management skills. The data architects’ IT skills include, for example, practical database, SQL and programming skills. A data architect basically has several years of work experience in the IT and database environment.

Difference between data architect and data engineer

There is no generally accepted definition for the position of data architect or data engineer. Their roles and tasks overlap to a greater or lesser extent depending on the area of ​​application and the company. Education and skills can also be very similar. Therefore, the use of the terms data engineer and data architect for a given position is not always consistent. Basically, data architect and data engineer can be distinguished from each other as follows:

While the data architect is predominantly conceptual and strategic, the data engineer’s work has a more practical orientation. Data architects plan at a high level and often pursue visionary goals. The data architect is responsible for the design of the basic data architecture. The data architect and the data engineer work together to implement this architecture. The tasks of the data engineer are predominantly of a practical nature and include, for example, the practical representation of the data in the data architecture and its databases and application systems, development of best practices in the processing, modeling and storage of the data. , providing smooth data processes, creating data pipelines, practical compliance with data quality, making the data available for professional use by data consumers such as data scientists or data analysts and much more.


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