Software architecture combines all non-functional requirements related to building a software product. Why is it so important? Because everything in life is architecture — your home, office, city, and even you! Everything we interact with has an architecture designed to help, support and enhance our goal and objective.
Many people use the terms system architecture and software architecture interchangeably. They are not the same but have little differences. In the article below, we will mainly talk about software architecture as we stress the importance and nature of software decisions and their influence on software quality.
In truth, software architecture is closely related to system architecture because you must think about the entire system, including hardware, when designing it. As a result, software architecture is where fundamental decisions can set the course for successful software or failed one.
What is Software Architecture?
From a historical point of view, software was written in a single unit code where all components are joined together and share the same resources. These applications are considered monoliths. Modern applications, on the other hand, use microservices to connect elements that can enable now popular cloud-native software. It’s a way of speeding up new applications and optimizing existing ones with consistent development and automated management.
Software architecture is a structural blueprint of application in a system. It’s an intricate scheme that details how each unit, including middleware, databases, and other software, is related to each other and their interaction in an enormously complex system to meet business needs and user goals.
The homes we live in have blueprints, and the software is the same. Therefore, software architecture is a guide or pattern for building, managing, and remodeling in the future. In other words, a well-documented software architecture is mandatory to ensure a seamless system transition or scaling up an application.
In truth, you could change the system without a blueprint, but that has consequences. For instance, if you do not understand the structure and logic behind it, you could end up with software that can jeopardize your business in the future.
Changing or adding code without understanding the system can lead to building a labyrinth that is not easily changeable or manageable in the future. So, let’s take a look at some of the possible problems that could arise from this:
Poor service: For instance, having your core service divided into different systems. It is challenging to manage and infinitely more complex to edit such code.
Downfalls: Having components that are not isolated from each other could be a bigger problem when you need to change a single software. It will influence or bring down the system as a whole.
Legacy system: If the architecture is complex and challenging to change, businesses are less motivated to upgrade it, which in turn means ending up with legacy software.
Elements a Good Software Architecture Takes into Consideration
To positively influence time to market, the software architect creates a working ecosystem while maintaining a broader perspective throughout all project phases. The goal of software architecture is to create a scalable and stable project.
Software architecture takes multiple elements into account to accomplish this, for example:
- Customer who is mainly focused on cost, performance, and the stability of the product they will use.
- An end user who is concerned about the system’s performance, usability, and security.
- The developer completes the specific requirements, which are simple and consistent throughout the system.
- System administrators are predominantly focused on behavior and monitoring tools they use.
- Marketers are interested in system features, time to market, and the overall cost of the software product.
Why is Software Architecture Important?
As a blueprint and guidance for all future use and change, software architecture is the heart of any successful software development. It enormously affects the quality of all applications built on it. The primary importance of good software architecture is that it significantly impacts successful software development and future system maintenance.
In simple terms, software architecture is a multitude of decisions. Some of the earliest ones carry a high degree of responsibility for every decision after it. The more complex it is, the better architecture should be for software and systems to succeed. A good software architecture design can carry many benefits for businesses and users.
#1 Creating a solution to meet specifications
Software is a product of many stakeholders, including business analysts, product owners, and end users and their requirements. Software architecture defines the solution that will meet and exceed those requirements. Hence, doing it right from the beginning avoids complex implementation to manage, deploy, and maintain.
#2 Defining quality attributes
Quality attributes are measurable parts of the system, such as the software’s non-functional requirements and functional requirements. Non-functional requirements include maintainability, security, interoperability, and performance. On the other hand, the applicable requirements are its features. Quality attributes satisfy the users’ needs, and software architecture is an integral part of it.
#3 Predicting software quality
The software architecture allows us to foresee the software quality attributes even while the software is not developed or deployed. Based on the documentation, we can see the strong and weak points of the software. Hence, software architecture plays a vital role which can save you from later changes and avoid the expensive rework of the project.
#4 Clear communication among stakeholders
As mentioned, software development is a series of decisions from different specialists. Software architecture provides a document that needs to satisfy the needs of many of these stakeholders, including the end user. In addition, it can serve as a way of communicating between these stakeholders to achieve a consolidated software solution that will have success in the future.
#5 Easily manage change
The software you developed today may need to change tomorrow due to market changes, additional requirements, changes in business processes, technology, and other influences. However, building and documenting a software architecture that allows modifications easily and quickly can save a lot of time and workforce for business.
#6 Drafting a reusable model
A well-established software architecture can be used as a model within an organization for future purposes with products with similar requirements. More importantly, all decisions placed into the original software are now thoroughly tested in the natural environment, and that serves as a guideline for all future products. Furthermore, the new product will have all of the benefits of the original software and leverage the knowledge of newfound information to improve reused code and software architecture further. In the long run, the organization is saving time and resources for developing a new software product.
#7 Providing simple implementation
Any well-documented software architecture ensures that all design choices, feature requirements, and back-end code are clear, so implementation of the structure is easier for developers. In other words, everyone on the project abides by the rules addressed in software architecture.
What are the Different Types of Software Architectures?
The strategic goals of the product determine each software architecture. Therefore, when building software, you start with a software architecture to support these goals. There are numerous types of software architecture, but we will name the most popular few.
As already mentioned, this type of architecture is outdated by current standards in software development. Also known as a single monolithic entity, this type of software is a massive system of instructions.
Event-driven architecture acts as the name says. A multitude of dissociated systems run in response when something happens. It’s the most used type of software architecture as it is easily scalable and cost-efficient.
This type of software architecture is a collection of independent services. That being said, each service can have a different programming language, separate tests, and be deployed separately from others.
Cloud architecture implements aspects of event-driven and microservices architecture while using most cloud technology. It’s easily auto-scalable based on defined requirements.
To sum it up, choosing the exemplary software architecture is driven by a set of requirements and is used to provide the best outcome for new software. Done correctly, a good software architecture will ultimately achieve the following:
- user-friendly software solution
- flexible enough to accommodate easy changes
- have high performance
- promote growth
- successful software
In TNation, we build working ecosystems that enable teams to produce in a scalable, productive, predictable, and cost-effective manner. We are a software development company based in Belgrade. Let’s talk about your next project.