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What Is Software Architecture?

Much of what you do on a daily basis, from using a cell phone to clocking into sending an email depends on the software architecture of the systems that you use. We often take software architecture for granted, with many people not even knowing what it is or how it can be used.

Without software architecture, so much of what we know and use wouldn’t be possible – but what is it?

Software architecture is what makes it possible for innovation within an organization. The architecture used within their software must be of high quality, able to carry the load of work, ready when needed, and cost-effective.

Software Architecture Definition

Software architecture is, simply, the organization of a system. 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.

Software architecture is designed with a specific mission or missions in mind. That mission has to be accomplished without hindering the missions of other tools or devices. The behavior and structure of the software impact significant decisions, so they need to be appropriately rendered and built for the best possible results.


Software Architecture In Software Engineering

Software architecture in software engineering helps to expose the structure of a system while hiding some implementation details. Architecture focuses on relationships and how the elements and components interact with each other, as does software engineering.

In fact, software architecture and software engineering often overlap. They are combined because many of the same rules govern both practices. The different sometimes comes when decisions are focused on software engineering and the software architecture follows.

It is important to note that all software architecture is engineering, but not all engineering is software architecture. The software architect is able to distinguish between what is just details in the software engineering and what is important to that internal structure.

Currently, software architecture looms over software engineering, determining the direction of the designing and building of complex systems.

Software Architecture Design Tools

Software architecture design tools are used to build software architecture without having major flaws or problems. When using proper tools, one is able to reduce the chances of bugs in the implementation of the software or flaws in the design that will have impacts later on in development or when the software is used heavily.

Software architecture design tools help to build software that doesn’t have security issues. This is key because there are software risks in all areas of the software development process. When teams avoid software flaws or bugs, they are able to move forward with confidence. However, since this isn’t always possible, software architecture design tools also need to have the ability to find flaws during the creation of software and correct them efficiently. When using software architecture design tools that can identify flaws, you will have the ability to analyze the fundamental software design, assess the chance of an attack, figure out potential threat elements, and identify any weaknesses or gaps in existing security.

Tools like those from CAST are cost effective because they can identify AND fix design flaws throughout the entire software architecture design process – including at the start when it is best to find and fix problems. Or tools perform architecture risk analysis, threat modeling, and more to help find, fix, and redesign software architecture.

Organizations that fail to use the proper software architecture design tools might be surprised at the problems that are able to pop up later – sometimes fatally. There are faults in software architecture that can go unnoticed for some time, but eventually, they will emerge. The question is how much risk and how much work was put into place before it was noticed? This can impact bottom lines and hurt safety and reputations of companies.

“Even the best architecture, most perfectly suited for the job, will be essentially useless if the people who need to use it do not know what it is, cannot understand it well enough to apply it, or (worst of all) misunderstand it and apply it incorrectly. All of the effort, analysis, hard work, and insightful design on the part of the architecture team will have been wasted.” Documenting Software Architectures: Views and Beyond, Paul Clements, et. al

To prevent application decay, delivery teams must put in place a software intelligence platform. CAST structural analysis engine, the Application Intelligence Platform, look at how software components interact then creates a visual representation to provides insight to developers or new team members that help them better understand, support, and continue to develop the application.

  • Interactive exploration - An end-user application to graphically display and explore the structure of an application and its code interdependencies, according to the information gathered during code analysis and stored in the AIP Knowledgebase
  • Change Simulation - Impact analysis capabilities to simulate the impact of a modification to an object
  • Automated Documentation - HTML report feature to create technical documentation
  • Highlight database model and ensure adherence between back-end and database layers
  • Search any component and position it on a current graphical view, on a transaction
  • View source code and all details about any application component
  • Extract high-level software architectures showing all the technologies, frameworks, and databases in the application

For more information about CAST software architecture solutions CLICK HERE to learn more.