The Impact Of Software Architecture On Enterprise Agility

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In today’s enterprise landscape, the rise and fall of companies, large or small depend largely on their abilities to adjust to changing market demands, or, in other words, their enterprise agility.  To do so, the best companies need to optimize both the enterprise and software architectures to facilitate the light-speed execution of their strategic shifts. Gone are the days of taking months or even years to build iron-clad barriers to entry with intellectual property or exclusive rights. Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix focus their resources on innovation and can seemingly launch new products or services overnight. 

That speed is the true competitive advantage for large businesses in a field of competitors who take twice or ten times as long to deploy new technological advances. The question then becomes: how can companies compete without significantly increasing the number of employees they have working on a specific problem? The bedrock of that speed is having a scalable software architecture. There is nothing that has a greater impact on enterprise agility than the software architecture, how well it is understood, and how it responds to change.

Learn how CAST Imaging can help understand your software architecture.

What is Enterprise Software Architecture?

Software architecture is the sum of all design decisions. Complex designs can sometimes hurt timelines or budgets when making decisions about changes, technical problems, and migrations. Enterprise software architecture directly impacts how both the functional and technical sides of the software will grow over time.  If software architecture was not carefully thought through at the inception of a system, it is likely to meet many challenges as business requirements evolve and new technologies become available.

These problems aren’t rare, but they are avoidable when building or changing enterprise software architecture. 

What Promotes Enterprise Agility?

So then, what makes software architecture agile, and therefore contributes to enterprise agility? The following:

  • Sustainability of both the process and the code

  • Feedback at various levels of scale

  • Awareness of what software is being built and how it is being built

  • Engagement of people on the design team

  • What implications on the software design can be derived from that engagement?

  • Extensibility 

  • Maintainability

  • Testability

  • Communication

  • Is everything comprehensive?

To enable enterprise agility and software development responsiveness, firms use scalable enterprise architecture.  Scalable software architecture typically has a micro-service structure, dedicated development pods for each microservice, cloud-native development and deployment environment, a DevOps software supply chain, and leverages a variety of standards libraries and open source components.  The service-oriented architecture and streamlined development pipeline allows the enterprise to change functionality in one part of the system without impacting others.  While the use of libraries and a cloud-native deployment pipeline speeds up deployment of enhancements, and at the same time allows the software to roll back quickly when issues are discovered.  

In general, however, it is not easy to have a very scalable and agile software architecture.  Especially, when most enterprises are starting with legacy software.  Therefore, it makes complete sense to have a comprehensive software blueprint before starting the agile architecture journey. This can help with fundamental decisions that can drive success. This blueprint can be crude or it can be detailed and offer more insight that will help with development. The more thorough and accurate the blueprint is, the easier it will be for the team and the stakeholders to visualize ideas. 

Evolving Architecture, Software Architecture, and Enterprise Agility

So what should software architecture that supports agile development and enterprise agility be comprised of? Here is a general checklist of components to look for in software architecture:

  • Use of the service-oriented architecture;

  • Separation of backend logic with front-end services and UI;

  • Scalability and Adaptability on the technology platform level;

  • A technology stack that uses the most advanced technologies appropriate for the business requirements;

  • A cloud-native or serverless infrastructure; and

  • A high degree of deployment automation. 

Most CIOs and development teams are missing one crucial thing: this is that the key to being more agile isn’t simply adding more agile projects or training, but rather adopting a more mature approach toward software architecture. The software is what is slowing them down, not the lack of training. Focusing on adding more agile projects will be detrimental as well - they will degrade over time and your business will become less agile in the long term. The solution is to get the software architecture under control.

CAST Imaging, an interactive application visualization and exploration software provides MRI-like visibility into most complex software systems. The Software intelligence provided can be used to look into the software architecture, learn how software components interact, intelligently organize complex applications into logical application layers and then create a visual representation to provide insights. This helps to better understand,support, manage and control the software architecture strategy and execution.

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