What is Application Architecture?

Troy Holmes

Application architecture is the organizational design of an entire software application, including all sub-components and external applications interchanges. There are several design patterns that are used to define this type of architecture, and these patterns help to communicate how an application will complete the necessary business processes as defined in the system requirements.

Application architecture determines how applications can be used to complete business processes.
Application architecture determines how applications can be used to complete business processes.

A software application is a system designed to automate specific tasks in a logical manner to satisfy a set of requirements. It relies on underlying operating systems and databases to store and perform tasks within the application. The application architecture is the blueprint that defines how the program will interact with servers and components within the domains of application layers.

A server that is designed for or dedicated to running specific applications is known as an application server.
A server that is designed for or dedicated to running specific applications is known as an application server.

With the expansion of interoperability within software, modular components have been created that specialize in specific areas of business processes within an application. The architecture defines all of the components within the design and how they will communicate within the application. This definition includes all layers of an application.

There are three main areas of control within all applications: the presentation layer, the business layer, and the data access layer. Each domain within an application has a specific responsibility that, when joined with the other layers, satisfy the underlying business requirements of an application.

The application architecture is used as a blueprint to ensure that the underlying modules of an application will support future growth. Growth can come in the areas of future interoperability, increased resource demand, or increased reliability requirements. With a completed architecture, stakeholders understand the complexities of the underlying components should changes be necessary in the future.

With the creation of advanced object-oriented programming, the organizational design has become a vital component in defining how an application will function. This is due to the wide use of N-Tier applications in most enterprises. N-Tier applications enable the deployment of sub-components or modules across multiple servers within an enterprise.

When defining an application's architecture, it is also important to define the application server architecture. This server architecture overlays the hardware design that will facilitate the deployment of the software components. Good application server architectures should support both horizontal and vertical growth paradigms.

Application service architecture defines how the application will make key business components available to other modules within an application. With the definition of interfaces available, interoperability between application layers is better understood by stakeholders within the organization.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Software development (at the core) is as much an art as it is a science, but I am glad to see experienced developers realize there is a relationship between their simple ideas of an application and its place among the wider technologies it uses and relies upon and provides interaction through known as the architecture.

The term Application Architecture has been around for 40-plus years, but only a very few non-extreme scientific sorts used it. Business and organizations today need to embrace the reality that in an every increasingly complex world, architectures exist to be embraced and leveraged in order to save on the costs while delivering relevant needs fully. Great post.


I think it is easy for us to forget how complicated software can be. We use it all the time, not just on computers now but on phones and iPods and the like, it's hard to imagine how much effort goes into making even simple applications so that they work well.


I have never heard the term architecture used to refer to software design, though it makes sense. It is a way of building things, and good software design can be as artistic as designing a beautiful house.

Post your comments
Forgot password?