Microsoft Guidance of a ‘High Order’

Microsoft is launching a new community designed for a job title of rising importance: the architect.

The goal of Skyscrapr is pretty straightforward, said Norman Guadagno, group manager of Microsoft’s developer and partner evangelism architecture strategy team. It is to get people informed around and empowered about architecture.

It is also dedicated to developing a community so individuals can create their own learning plans and serve as a gateway to other architecture resources Microsoft provides.

Skyscrapr is geared toward four types of architects –- the solutions architect, the infrastructure architect, the strategic architect and the industry architect.

Solution architects decide which technologies to use and work with the developers. Infrastructure architects find solutions to meet the requirements of the organization made by the strategic architects who guide their organizations’ business and IT systems.

Finally, the industry architects are the forward-looking ones who keep up with the latest technology and how they can use it.

“Architects look at problems from a number of perspectives,” said Guadagno. “It’s really about taking a systems level view to see holistically where an important piece needs to go and how the pieces fit together. People need that high-order guidance.”

In many ways, software architecture is like traditional architecture in that it involves how a structure has to stand and can stand through the test of time.

But with software and systems architectures, the pieces keep moving around and are fairly dynamic, which is different from the traditional kind.

Microsoft is notorious for its “not-invented-here” snobbery, but Guadagno said that’s not the case with the Skyscrapr site.

“We acknowledge everybody is building on mixed environments now and will be as they move to SOA,” he said.

At this point, the site just has some blogs, a definition of terms and some FAQ-like material on architecture. The Skyscrapr team, which consists of around 20 members, works with MSDN to provide content whenever the site drops below the first or second level, said Guadagno.

Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst with JupiterResearch, questions Microsoft’s reasons behind requiring users to run Windows Media Player.

“If Microsoft’s goal is to appeal to a broad set of system architects, I would suggest using technology that easily spans browsers and operating systems,” he said.

“There’s merit to the concept, but it’s somewhat unclear to me what the site’s objective is.”

Skyscrapr will be formally launched at the upcoming TechEd conference in Boston but is available now for the curious architect. More information, including training materials, will be added after the tradeshow.

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