Modern software has a rather complex structure. Development, as a rule, is carried out by a whole team, which includes both programmers themselves and code quality specialists, testers, etc. As a result, it is important to organize the work of all these specialists as a single team. And before starting the development, we first of all need to translate the requirements of the customer, or business, into technical language. That is, we need to understand which components of IT systems are involved in which business processes and then, based on these requirements, already prepare the terms of reference for the development of a software product. And although a business analyst or data analyst is usually responsible for analyzing business processes in a team, all other tasks related to coordinating the work of a development team fall on the shoulders of a Software Architect. It is this specialization that we will talk about in this article.
Who is a Software Architect?
So, a software architect is usually a programmer or software developer who determines which processes and technologies the development team should use. That is, when receiving a top-level TOR for work, it is the architect who decides which frameworks, libraries and infrastructure solutions should be used in the implementation of the project. Of course, many of the decisions on which it is planned to implement the project are usually fixed in the terms of reference, however, in this case, the architect must be directly involved in the approval of this TOR, in order for the really necessary technologies to get into it with solutions that allow you to implement the desired functionality by optimal means. .
Thus, it is quite obvious that a software architect is a fairly experienced specialist who is well acquainted not only with development issues, but also has a broad technical outlook and extensive experience in the subject area. Many years of programming experience is one of the necessary conditions, but it is clearly not enough, since in addition to development, it is necessary to have a good understanding of various technologies and protocols on which the operation of the entire system as a whole is based.
Of course, one cannot know everything at a sufficiently deep level, so another task of the software architect is the need to interact with related departments and experts. So, when developing the infrastructure components of the solution, it would not be out of place to clarify, for example, with specialists in servers and storage systems, the characteristics of the equipment intended for use in order to avoid the appearance of “bottlenecks” when the system is operating in a highly loaded mode.
Thus, the software architect, at the initial stage of developing a design solution, needs to interact with various specialists in order to avoid problems in the future.
On development stage
After we have fixed all the necessary requirements for the system being created in the TOR, we have formed a team of specialists, the development of the software product begins. And here the most interesting thing happens. During the development process, there will definitely be various, let’s say mildly “strange” things that create significant difficulties in the work of the entire team.
Examples of such oddities include the release of new versions of the OS, frameworks, libraries and other components that are used or on which our system is built. So, Microsoft loves to “please” with changes in the functionality of the system after the release of the next service pack or a new version of the OS.
In addition, an unpleasant surprise may be a change in the “wishlist” of the customer. Yes, yes, we all remember the agreed TOR, but sometimes situations are possible when either a particular requirement in the TOR is not spelled out clearly enough, which gives the right to different interpretations of this requirement, or the customer simply demanded to write a lengthy instead of clear wording “ specified during development. Of course, at this point, many may object that the architect himself is a fool, since he made such formulations in the TOR, but in real life everything is not so simple, sometimes personal connections between the top management of two companies and other completely non-technical circumstances decide a lot.
In such situations, there may be an urgent need to quickly rework the entire previously agreed decision. Well, besides, during the development process, you can encounter a situation where something does not work at all as it was expected. For example, in some library, this or that function contains a bug or vulnerability, as a result of which, in fact, it cannot be used. In such cases, the architect, together with other members of the project team, needs to develop a workaround that does not reduce the overall characteristics of the solution being developed.
In addition to technical issues, do not forget about the need for regular communication with customer representatives.
Tasks and responsibilities
So, let’s summarize the tasks that a software architect must solve. First of all, it’s meeting with clients, understanding their business goals, identifying their requirements, and developing solutions to meet those software needs. It is also a discussion of the overall business plan with clients and what areas could be improved that could simplify the business process or software.
In addition, it is the responsibility of the architect to perform the tasks of leading the design and build team of the designed application, and developing a plan for building the application platform that best suits the task at hand.
It will not be superfluous to remember the deadlines. Of course, in many companies the project manager is responsible for the deadlines, but in any case, the architect must control the deadlines for the delivery of projects or releases. And interacting with people in different roles, such as testers and business analysts.
How to become a Software Architect
Becoming a good software architect requires a combination of education and experience. That is, you cannot just become an architect at a university or in courses. Experience in software development for at least five years is required.
For those who are already involved in development, we can advise you to study new technologies and programming languages, the basics of DevOps, system design and teamwork methods. Also, it will not be superfluous to have a certificate in specialized areas.
In this short article, we talked about who a software architect is, what main tasks he solves and what he is responsible for in software development projects. However, questions related to the specifics of software development in various industries remained behind the scenes. We will talk about this in future articles. And even more we tell on our course Software Architect. On the course page, you can also register for free webinarsto get acquainted with the program and the format of training.