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What is Software Architecture?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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In computing, software architecture is a schematic blueprint of a software application. It is created by the system architecture team. This architecture includes a complete set of design documents that outline how a software application will interact with hardware, networks, and other components of an enterprise.

A software application is a program that runs on a computer. Each computer has specific power requirements, telecommunication network requirements, and performance capabilities. The software architecture is an outline, defining the expectations and demands that will be placed on the enterprise infrastructure.

Architecture is a complex design of elements in a system and the relationship between them. The software architecture is a tool used for communicating the detailed structure of a system. It explains both internal and external relationships of components to define how the systems will function in a production environment.

Most computer software is built based on defined processes and system life-cycle management. This process includes the areas of requirements, design, coding, and testing. It is important to capture the architectural design concepts early in the process, typically during the requirements phase of the system life-cycle. This ensures the software architecture is appropriately planned early enough to include the strategies of the organization.

An enterprise architecture strategy is a strategic plan that defines how software applications will be used within an organization. This plan includes the guidelines, models, and standards for the general framework of all software. It is the responsibility of the system architect to ensure the software architecture complies with the enterprise architecture strategy.

The systems architect plays a vital role. He is a communication expert who has the ability to actively listen to stakeholder’s values, goals, and concerns. He uses this information to create technology maps that set technical directions. The software architecture is the design plan used for inserting new software technology into an organization.

Large organizations use these enterprise frameworks as a road map to guide the internal design of all business systems. This approach reduces the overall cost of software maintenance throughout the company. By sharing a common infrastructure for most resources, the total cost of software ownership is reduced for the organization.

A good example of standardized architecture strategy is the wide adoption of Microsoft Office Suite®. Rather then allowing multiple tools for emails, word processing, and spreadsheets, a large enterprise will select one software architecture that can be used throughout the company.

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