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A Great Definition of "Software Architecture"

"The best definition of software architecture I've heard"

Definition of Software Architecture

During a conversation over dinner with SOA Web Services Edge 2006 speaker and SOA Web Services Journal author, Eric Newcomer, Microsoft MVP Beth Massi defined software architecture in a way that resonated strongly with Newcomer. Here he shares it with readers of his blog:

Last week in San Francisco I had dinner with my good ol' Microsoft MVP solutions architecture buddy Beth Massi and her significant other, Alan Griver. We had a great time weaving our way through the crowds at the St. Patrick's Day block party on Front Street but we could not get close enough to the bar to get a beer and ended up at the nearby Gordon Biersch's for dinner.

During the conversation over dinner Beth gave about the best definition of software architecture I've heard - I'm not sure I have the wording exactly right, but it was basically that software architecture is all about figuring out how to put together things that were never designed to work together in the first place.

Meaning things like J2EE and .NET were not designed to work together but since they are often used in the same companies, someone has to figure it out.

Posted by newcomer at March 25, 2006 11:08 PM

 

More Stories By Eric Newcomer

Eric Newcomer is an Integration Architect in the CTO department at at Credit Suisse. Previously he was Chief Technology Officer at IONA and has been involved with computers since 1975 and professionally since 1978, primarily in the area of online tranasction processing. He was also involved in Web services from the beginning, contributing to several specifications and related industry initiatives. Currently he is Co-Chair of the Enterprise Expert Group at OSGi Alliance.

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Most Recent Comments
archie 03/29/06 06:27:59 AM EST

Malcom, I really like your quote. It reminds of the definition of intelligence for humans.

Malcolm Spence 03/28/06 02:50:45 PM EST

She is not saying anything different from the fundemental description of architecture that I learned while working at DEC many years ago. (DEC was strong on architectures.)

"The purpose of an architecture is to accommodate change."

The measure of a good architecture is how well it absorbs change and masks the negative effects of change from other parts of the system.

Standards are not architectures. Standards are part of an architecture. There should be placeholders in the architecture where a variety of implementation choices can be made, and codified as standards, to ensure interoperability, portability, replacement over time, mix and match etc.

Good architectures are inclusive. They support a variety of implementation choices, they can scale transparently as you expand your systems.

regards Malcolm

Archie 03/28/06 04:22:33 AM EST

It is an interesting idea, but maybe a little bit too reactive instead of proactive. I really believe the architecture has to be designed with the future in mind.

It would be closer to say "figuring out how the things we already have, the things we intend to have and the things that have not yet been invented are to be put together". Pure and unadulterated magic is what it is - nothing less will do.

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