So a Data Architect and a Biz Guy walk into a bar.

Biz Guy (BG): What do you do?

Data Architect (DA): I’m a data architect.

BG: What’s a data architect?

DA: Well, a company is like a big hill and the business people are at the bottom of the hill. Data starts at the top. It looks and smells a lot like poop. As a matter of a fact, I’ll call it poop.

BG: That’s kind of disgusting and probably irrelevant.

DA: No, stick with me (like poop). I’ll get to the point soon.

BG: Ok.

DA: So, the business folks are at the bottom of the hill trying to catch the poop and make sense of it. You spend most of your time wondering why you have to deal with all this poop.

BG: Amen brother. Been there, done that.

DA: You decide to put your data in a database so you can turn it into information, like reports and such. To do that, you have to hire a DBA. A DBA will create a dam to block the flow of poop so he can protect it (s/he thinks s/he owns it). Now you are in the position of having to ask for access to your own poop. A good DBA may even let some poop dry out a bit and occasionally toss you a nicely formatted patty. An even better DBA will do it quickly.

BG: Wow. I think I’m feeling sort of nauseous.

DA: Yeah. So then you decide to hire developers. They will surely get you what you need. And they do try. A developer’s job is to continuously try to outsmart the DBA so that he can use alchemy to translate the poop into useful information. It’s a very arcane process and the best developer’s are good at it.

Mostly what you get though, is a bunch of holes in the DAM the DBA built. Now you’re getting pooped on from various directions and in different flavors. The mythical “really good” DBA can slow it down enough so that any “really good” developers are  putting into useful structures like patties, squares and triangles.

BG: You really need psychiatric help. You know that right?

DA: I have meds. So anyway, the biz gets tired of getting digging through chunky poop and hires a Data Architect. What a data architect does for you is directly impacted by where he is placed in the organization (the hill).

If the DA comes downstream from the developers, he pretty much just waves to the poop as it passes him by.

If the DA comes in between the developers and the DBAs, you will still get a slow trickle of slightly dry patties, squares and triangles but now they will all be the exact same shape, size and flavor.

If the DA comes before the DBA, the DA will open a steady, standardized flow of poop to the developer and provide them shovels and rakes. With the right flow and some work, the poop becomes fertilizer.

However, if the DA brings the business folk to the top of the hill, they can choose the right poop (not all poop is created equal) and block off the stuff that’s not needed. The DA will work with the DBA to store and dry out the useful stuff. With the rakes and shovels provided by the DA, and the reduction in poop volume, the developers have the time and tools to build the information that the business really needs.

BG: Oh.

DA: So you see the meaning in this story?

BG: Yes, you’re kind of gross and probably play a lot Farmville on facebook.

DA: Yeah.

LewisC

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