Before we discuss the ‘why’ of software architecture, it is necessary to understand first what it means. Software and software systems are executed to accomplish a purpose by automating tasks, reducing manual errors and saving time. They are developed to fulfill an organization’s business goals. These goals are often abstract. Businesses know that automation is the need of the hour, but most businesses do not have any clear vision of what they need. Programmers, on the other hand, know how to execute programs and accomplish a task, but need clear definition of what the tasks comprise. Software architecture is, simply, the organization of a system. It is a bridge between abstract (mostly) business goals and the formal organized software. This organization includes all components, how they interact with each other, the environment in which they operate, and the principles used to design the software. In many cases, it can also include the evolution of the software into the future. While the path from abstract goals to concrete systems can be complex, software architectures can be designed, analyzed, documented, and implemented with enough training using known techniques that will support the achievement of these business and mission goals. Agile development, a process that reduces software development time, is another tool that software developers can use in conjunction with proper software architecture.
Who needs Software Architecture?
Architecture stands for structure, and it is applicable to all aspects of software development like components, classes. Functions, modules, layers, and so on. In that sense, software architecture represents the significant design changes that shape a system, where significance is measured by cost of change. The goal of good architecture is to minimize the human resources required to build and maintain the required system, to maximize productivity.
The term ‘software architecture’ is a sort of umbrella term, and can include various software domains like information architecture, infrastructure architecture, network architecture, enterprise architect, database architecture, security architecture, and so on. It is a vast field. And whereas smaller organizations have a single person with two or more architecture responsibilities, bigger organizations have different persons for each task. Network architecture especially is a completely different field altogether. However, regardless of whether you’re building a software system, a network or a database; a successful solution requires you to understand the problem and create a vision that can be communicated to everybody involved with the construction of the end-product. Architecture, regardless of the domain, is about structure and vision. A system architect will determine, for example, the functionality that is assigned to different processors and the type of network that connects those processors. The software architect on each of those processors will determine how this functionality is implemented and how the various processors interact through the exchange of messages on the network.
Software architecture is based on some principles of design:
Do not repeat – Avoid specifying behaviour related to a particular concept in multiple places within application.
In addition, architecture uses the following SOLID principles:
Dependency Inversion Principle – Higher-levels modules should not be depending on low-lower-level modules and changes in higher level will not affect to lower level
Responsibilities of Software Architects
Software architecture design is one of the software architecture life-cycle, and is concerned with the translation of requirements into a design into an implementation. Software architects have a number of responsibilities in addition to programming. They define the problem from an engineering perspective. They take the lead in software development design. Architects break the project into implementable chunks, and keep an eye on the big picture to ensure the system still works as a consistent whole. Architects decide trade-offs among quality attributes and manage the inevitable growth of technical debt. Architects develop their team’s architecture skills, because they know the best teams are filled with architects. They also analyze the technical needs of the project to determine which tools, technologies, and standards are the most suitable, all the while ensuring that the process complies with the chosen architecture. Software architects are indeed in a unique position on the team. Software architects thus have a distinct set of responsibilities and work closely with product managers, project managers, and other stakeholders to define business goals and requirements for the software to be built.