Cloud, cross-functional teams, product development, and agile are changing what organizations need from their architects. Enterprise IT leaders realize they need to help architects evolve, and this starts by evaluating the major functions of architecture groups. Leaders must determine what changes are necessary, and how each function happens in the context of cloud and product development.

Organizations with IT leadership that have evaluated the functions of architecture have already started to institute the following changes:

Operating Model-Focused: Because of the increasing operating model complexity, a small group of architectural resources drives architecture’s evolution through understanding how the IT operating model functions and where it needs to go next.

Decentralized on Cross-Functional teams: Cross-functional teams become knowledgeable about architecture best practices and functions that impact technical and design decision-making. A highly effective architecture community of practice is established to solve cross-team technical challenges when it comes to scaling best practices and patterns.

Cloud Architecture Analysis: An organization isn’t always utilizing the most optimal architectural patterns when cloud and application architecture responsibilities are outsourced to a cloud provider. Establish a dedicated cross-functional team to examine cloud environments for viable cloud architectural pattern usage improvement opportunities and generate compelling evidence that improvements are needed. That evidence is then delivered to teams that understand its value. This is also known as data and value stream-driven architecture.

SaaS Solution Brokering: With the proliferation of SaaS, establish a consultative capability that can partner with business leaders to help them rationalize and consume SaaS solutions effectively.

Legacy Architecture: Tribal knowledge of the existing forms of operation as it pertains to legacy workloads not suited for agile modes of operations are going to be needed for some time. Some architecture resources need to maintain their existing capacity, which is critical for long-term system retirement or refactoring.

It’s clear that architecture isn’t going away. It’s just changing. Gone are the days of a single centralized group. There is absolutely still a need for architecture functions and architects. However, many functions have been outsourced to cloud providers, and the centralized delivery model conflicts with the agile model needed for the cloud. Architecture needs to evolve into new modes of focus and delivery. In the cloud-centric IT operating model, there is more architecture happening than ever before, but it’s taking on many different shapes.