8 Things Every IT-Architecture Student Needs to Know
By Afia Ahmad
IT architecture, also known as software architecture, is deemed to be the next big thing in software engineering. The technical definition of this term describes it as the creation of a structured framework for conceptualising software elements, along with their relationships and various properties. Software architecture is important, and is in fact the first step of developing a software. By providing your front and back-end developers with a fool-proof plan of the design, you ensure that all the stakeholders associated would know exactly what is expected of them. It is highly improbable to create a stable and scalable software without planning its architecture beforehand.
The job opportunities associated with software architecture have increased quite substantially. If you are planning to become a software architect, the following pointers should help you prepare for what lies ahead:
1.Software Architecture is NOT the same as Design
We have heard of software designers and we have an understanding of what they do – design software modules to solve problems. Software architects on the other hand, are responsible for making the high-level decisions about which languages and frameworks to use, how the different modules will interact with each other, and component-based software selection. An architect controls the how and where, while a designer completes the how. Moreover, a software architect is not always a part of the tactical parts of the development process, which includes coding and testing.
2.It is important to think of the Future. Always.
Software architects need to build future-proof systems that will not break apart at the seams when new functionalities are added to it. Scalability is the proof of every design, and the prime goal of an architect is to plan far ahead into the future and make robust, adaptable systems that can withstand the test of new demands. To be able to do this, you need to understand business needs and anticipate problems that others cannot see. In short, you need to have great foresight.
3.You need to be a decision maker
Software architects have to make many high-level decisions pertaining to the software design. While they may not be actively involved in the coding process, they can choose which language will work best for specific modules and the high-level methodologies to use for design process. Therefore, a software architect has to play the role of a strategic decision maker, a leader and be prepared for the challenges that come along with it as well.
4.You need to have patience
Your work will lay the foundation for the development of something new and you cannot change tracks midway when your entire team is already hard at work. So, it’s very important that you get your blueprint right before you share it with the other stakeholders. Take as much time as you need, since planning is not an easy task. In addition, you also have to understand that mistakes can be costly, and asking your team to redo or refactor their work will lead to delays and unnecessary expenses.
5.Communication is key
When you are planning the architecture of a new software, you need to communicate proactively. Not only do you have to give clear instructions to your designers, you also need to understand what the business needs are along with the expectations of the higher-ups. When you fully comprehend how the software will be used in the real world, will you be able to make the best decisions. It would be your job to drive communication across teams and ensure that the goals are being met.
Software architecture has a level of abstraction about it. A lot of the process of conceptualising and planning depends on your ability to imagine different scenarios and devise solutions for future problems. The role is dependent on both your structured as well as experiential knowledge, and so you must always be on the lookout for new information that can improve your own methods.
7.Focus on Agility
A good software design is agile and adaptable, as we have already noted before. There is a misconception that architecture and agility are competing methodologies, and that there is an omnipresent conflict between them. In fact, to be a good software architect you need to dig deeper into agile methodologies and learn about software development as well. This will help you create systems that embrace change and can implement them easily, instead of the opposite.
8.It’s hard, but also incredibly rewarding
As a enterprise architect you would probably be the go-to person for your team, and the face of the entire project. The onus will be on you to anticipate failures and stress points and provide solutions for that work. You would be the team leader, problem solver, chief planner and most importantly the one who would bear the brunt of the blame if things were to go wrong. The role is very demanding, but the rewards are high.
Do you think you are ready for the challenge? Do take a look at the Architect Readiness Course from the Manipal ProLearn – a course designed by experts to teach you the nuances of software architecture and prepare you for real-world challenges in just a matter of months.