Microsoft Cloud Authors: Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Serafima Al, Janakiram MSV

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, Microservices Expo

Microsoft Cloud: Article

SOA Viewpoint: The Software Architect's Dilemma

There's no need for any organization to have a full-time software architect

JP Morgenthal's Blog

I've worked for Fortune 500 companies engaged simultaneously in 50+ of IT projects as well as small companies with one or two products and I don't believe there is a need for any organization to have a full-time software architect. Once the modeling is done, it is the work of coding and testing that truly takes the full-time effort. Once underway, 100 hours a month of time is enough for any architect to respond to most needs of all ongoing projects.

Those who have worked in software development, whether in corporate IT or in commercial software companies are most likely familiar with the analogy between building software and building buildings. That is, the architect designs the building and the software developer builds the building. Sometimes there is the equivalent of a structural engineer, but most often times the analogy is left in its simple form as a means of differentiating the roles and to demonstrate the separation of concerns and skills.

The importance of the analogy is to instill that without proper architecture up front, there is significant risk your building might fall down. However, the aspect no one discusses of this analogy is that the engineer is on site full time during the build out, while the architect does 80% of their work up front and then might provide intermittent reviews while the build out is occurring.

How do general contractors deal with this? They hire architectural firms to perform the design and review function. How do organizations deal with this function with regard to software? They hire the architect full time. Hence, the architect’s dilemma--what they heck am I supposed to work on when no new buildings need designing?

Additionally, it’s not uncommon to find that most commercial entities start building their software with engineers alone foregoing the architecture until a crises occurs, resulting in the answer, “let’s get an architect in here.” The belief here is that the architect will save the day and make sure all the buildings under development will meet coding standards and remove all future worry. Oh yes, and this is all to happen without tearing down the building and starting from scratch.

The architects answer of, “you need to start this over and do this right,” is often met with rejection and animosity toward the architect. Moreover, usually an engineer will come up with some hack to get the build out going again, which results in the architect now a full time expensive resource who in their mind couldn’t even come up with the simple answer that some engineer 1/2 the price figured out.

This all results in the architect stuck in a position where they deem all those in charge around them to be blithering idiots who have no care for the quality of the things they build as long as it leads to the end result of recognizing the revenue. In the case of real buildings, this approach cannot occur because life and death are at stake. However, in the case of software, since the impact to the actual business is minimal, when compared to loss of human life, the organization ends up with a group of hackers that look like heroes and a few architects wondering how they got into the mess they’re in.

Hence, it is my belief that until the IT industry recognizes software architecture in the same way as construction recognizes building architecture, that software architects will forever be frustrated by their situations.

More Stories By JP Morgenthal

JP Morgenthal is a veteran IT solutions executive and Distinguished Engineer with CSC. He has been delivering IT services to business leaders for the past 30 years and is a recognized thought-leader in applying emerging technology for business growth and innovation. JP's strengths center around transformation and modernization leveraging next generation platforms and technologies. He has held technical executive roles in multiple businesses including: CTO, Chief Architect and Founder/CEO. Areas of expertise for JP include strategy, architecture, application development, infrastructure and operations, cloud computing, DevOps, and integration. JP is a published author with four trade publications with his most recent being “Cloud Computing: Assessing the Risks”. JP holds both a Masters and Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Hofstra University.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Chandra Sekhar Ghosh Dastidar 05/26/08 03:48:02 AM EDT

When a software is built for a life-support system it is definitely a life-n-death situation if anything goes wrong. You might say that it does not have an immediate impact during development but in the long run a life-support machine may abruptly shutdown due to wrong security implementation or stop responding due to poor performance considerations in the software architecture. The project management would definitely need to do proper costing for proper designing of the software by employing the skills of a software architect. No role is dispensable when one commits to deliver quality sofrware.

Paedagogus 05/14/08 09:09:43 PM EDT

I see your point, but I also think you are missing the real value of an architect. Refer to Martin Fowler's, "Who Needs An Architect?" (download the PDF from his web site).

What Martin has realized is that an architect is more than just a technical power hitter, or simply draws UML diagrams and spouts buzzwords. Personally, I believe that they must be able to personally code everything in their design, but more importantly, an architect is a coach and a mentor to the entire organization. That is where the long term value is for the architect. Allow me to elaborate:

The ability to speak to a large audience and be understood is vital. That means having a clear tongue, limiting your vocabulary (buzzwords), and fully engaging your audience.

You also have to be able to work one-on-one with developers to walk them though the development of solutions using technologies they don't understand. That has to be done as a mentor, and not by talking down to them. You have be ready and able to provide a demonstration, and to sit down right next to them as you walk them through the process.

Somewhere in the middle of all that you have to also be a buffer for the developers. As a point of contact for product management, you help control scope, and leverage the architecture to minimize any impact on the developer.

All of this requires a great deal of task switching; something that is very difficult for many technical minds to do. Pile on top of that the need to stay current with a rapidly changing market, and you have a position that very few people are worthy of occupying.

Speaking from personal experience, architects like this are not working 100 hours per month. They are working 100 hours per week.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
The Founder of NostaLab and a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, John is a unique combination of strategic thinker, marketer and entrepreneur. His career was built on the "science of advertising" combining strategy, creativity and marketing for industry-leading results. Combined with his ability to communicate complicated scientific concepts in a way that consumers and scientists alike can appreciate, John is a sought-after speaker for conferences on the forefront of healthcare science,...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Archi...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
JETRO showcased Japan Digital Transformation Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo® at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...