Founders & Startups: Software Architecture as the Starting Point of any Application
Software Architecture for Founders
Software architecture is an essential part of the website development process. It provides the framework and concepts that shape the final product, which is why founders need to pay close attention to this stage and ensure it’s done right.
But that’s easier said than done.
Like many aspects of software and digital product development, software architecture is complicated. In fact, you might still have a hard time getting over this stage if you hire the wrong person for the job.
To give you a better idea of software architecture, its importance, and how to ensure it’s done properly, we’ll explain all of that and more in the article below.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Software Architecture?
Basically, software architecture is the high-level structure of the entire software system. It encompasses the design concepts, decisions, patterns, and protocols essential for the app’s functionality. Well-done software architecture provides a digital blueprint to follow when developing software and programs, and it will have a major effect on the final output.
When stripped down to the basics, software architecture defines the system’s structure and behaviour. This is why software architects must possess a wide range of skills and abilities to get the job done effectively and efficiently.
A Software Architect’s Role in Development
You can’t understate the role of the architect in software development. The person you designate as the software architect is responsible for many of the most crucial decisions involved in developing a program while also using architecture designing software to get the job done.
A software architect is supposed to design, plan, and oversee the organisation of a software system and ensure that all system components effectively communicate with each other.
When your program’s software architecture is sound, developing the app becomes easy. This is why it’s very important to find a good software architect and ensure that they understand their role in the process.
So, before commencing with the other aspects of your project, it’s best to start looking for someone who can take on the task.
The Key Components of Software Architecture
Software architecture is one of the more complex areas of development. It can take a lot of work to go through all the components of good software architecture.
But to give you a better idea, here’s a quick rundown of the most important ones:
- Data management
- Patterns and Styles
These are just some of the basic components that founders need to understand. If you’re confused by all the terms, don’t worry about it too much. We’ll dive into much deeper detail in the next section!
Elements of a Software Architecture Style
A software architecture style is an umbrella term used to describe all the principles and aspects of software architecture that you must pay attention to.
These are the elements that determine how your app works and dictate much of the program’s functionality. Again, the style is composed of multiple elements, similar to the main components of software architecture.
To give you a better idea, here’s a detailed explanation of each of the elements.
Monolithic Architecture vs Microservices
There are two key primary schools of thought you need to know about when developing a software system: microservice architecture and monolithic architecture.
Let’s start with monolithic architecture. Monolithic architecture is basically a single and self-contained piece. With this type of architecture, everything is a unified process with tightly related components and functionalities. While this helps keep things simple, it makes expanding the codebase difficult, as even minor modifications require developers to rewrite and redeploy the entire system.
Next is microservice architecture. This approach divides the entire application into small and independent services that have weak connections to each other. That way, you can build, release, and expand the services independently, making changes and revisions much simpler. The clearly documented APIs and protocols in this type of architecture allow clear interactions between services.
You can use various technologies and languages for each microservice, depending on your needs. Because of this flexibility, this approach to developing a software system is largely considered the more scalable and adaptable option.
Now that you understand the basics of each school of thought, it’s time to dive into the key differences between the two.
Complexity: Since monolithic architecture designs are tightly knit and connected, maintenance and changes are much more difficult and complex. On the flip side, microservice architecture provides a much more modular approach, which simplifies the development process.
Scalability: When you use a monolithic design, you need to scale the entire application, even if only certain areas deal with heavy traffic. With microservice architecture, you can employ autonomous scaling for specific services completely based on demand.
Generally, the microservice design allows for decoupled deployment with continuous delivery of individual services. Monolithic services require coordinated deployments for the entire application, which can complicate things.
Overall, microservice architectures offer much more technological diversity, especially since you use multiple technology stacks for each service.
Fault Isolation: Monolithic designs run into a lot of trouble during faults, as a single failing component can impact the entire application. On the other hand, microservice designs have isolated components, so singular faults don’t affect the entire system.
Both monolithic and microservice design offer benefits and drawbacks. It’s important for teams to consider the complexity, scalability needs, and objectives of the project to choose the best option for their needs.
Components, Connectors, & Constraints
The building blocks of your app are called components. These refer to the basic functional units of your software system, which are supposed to communicate and interact with each other to provide users with the smoothest experience and solve specific problems.
To communicate with each other, the components need connectors. These are elements that define the communication protocols of the components. That way, the blocks serve their purpose, and the app performs as planned.
Lastly, the architecture also requires constraints, which are basically the limits on what the architecture can do. These constraints may be due to business, technological, or organisational reasons.
An architectural pattern is a pre-determined set of communication protocols between components. These patterns are essential for solving some of the natural problems that arise when developing software architecture. It’s essential that the architect uses these patterns, as they serve as a guide for the entire software architecture.
Data Management & Communication Protocols
It’s natural for different components to handle sets of data. Most apps nowadays must collect data to perform properly, which is why high-level software architecture must include data management protocol. This ensures that the product handles data ethically and in accordance with various standards, prevents security breaches and improves the app’s overall safety.
Additionally, the architecture style must include specific communication protocols for different components. Without these protocols, the software will not be able to function properly.
Another major consideration and element in a software architecture engineer style is the deployment. All of the app’s or software’s components must be distributed across physical and virtual resources.
When components aren’t distributed properly, it can result in major functionality issues. It can prevent the app from functioning properly altogether. This is why the software architecture needs to consider the deployment configurations.
The architect must consider the hardware infrastructure, deployment environments, and network topology when determining the deployment configurations. These can be very complex considerations, but they are crucial in ensuring the app performs properly.
Styles & Paradigms
The styles and paradigms in software architecture are the principles that guide the system's structure and how it performs. This could include layout architecture, microservices architecture, client-server architecture, and many more.
The stakeholders refer to all the individuals or groups interested in or involved in the software architecture. This could mean other developers, founders, managers, system administrators, and more.
Applying Software Architecture in a Healthcare App
To better understand why you need to pay close attention to software architecture, let’s look at this example in a healthcare app. Below, we look at some of the factors to consider when developing a healthcare app and choosing the best architectural approach.
Microservice Architecture: Microservice architecture, while it might sound complicated, simply means using distinct microservices for your app’s features, which allows you to tweak and edit the services as needed. With this architecture, you can schedule appointments, store patient data, and even send billings and alerts after performing a service. Since this is a very flexible architectural style, it’s one of the go-to options when developing a healthcare app.
Event-driven architecture: This type of architecture involves sending notifications, data updates, and interactions in real-time. This type of architecture is set up in a way where parts of the system generate and respond to events. This is great for general notifications, patient information, workflows, and more.
When building a healthcare app, it’s also important to comply with the set rules such as HIPAA in the United States. Since your healthcare app will likely deal with private patient information, it’s important to encrypt data, control access, and make sure to have data privacy controls in place to ensure your architecture is as secure as possible.
Another consideration to keep in mind is whether or not you want to use cloud-based architecture. This type of architecture can improve scalability and dependability while also lowering costs. This is great for serverless computing, disaster recovery, data storage, and data processing.
Since customers and clients who use your healthcare app manage large organisations, they will likely need more than one app to manage their operations. This is why it’s important to integrate your healthcare app with other systems, such as Electronic Health Records or Lab Inventory platforms. When your app works smoothly with other tools, it improves the user experience, which is very important for founders. Here is a practical example of how software architecture may look like:
To determine the best approach to your system architecture, it’s important to fully understand your app’s requirements, planned scalability and flexibility, and security concerns. That way, it will be much easier for you to select the architecture that works for your needs, ensuring a smooth development process.
While the above approaches to software architecture are very useful, there are also times when monolithic architecture may be ideal for you. Here are some of the situations wherein you may need a monolithic architecture for your app.
Monolithic architecture truly shines with basic applications. When you have a small application, a monolithic approach makes developing, deploying, and maintaining your amp much easier since you have fewer elements and a single codebase. This is why many small applications and teams go for monolithic architecture.
On top of that, monolithic architecture is more effective for applications with tightly coupled parts. If the components rely heavily on each other and share a lot of code, monolithic architecture is ideal for you as it will be much easier for components to work together.
Fast iterations and deployments are a need for many apps. However, if this isn’t a priority for the team, you may want to consider monolithic architecture to simplify versioning, deployment, and coordination.
Lastly, monolithic architecture may be a bit simpler to understand compared to microservice architecture. While distributed microservices are very effective and much more flexible, they require a lot of knowledge and technical skill. This is why monolithic architecture is the preferred approach for many teams.
There’s no approach to system architecture that’s better than the other. Your decision for which architecture to use has to be made on a case-by-case basis. That way, you can consider the project’s unique needs, potential growth, and overall objectives. That said, your app’s needs may shift over time, so you may still need to shift from a monolithic architecture to microservices.
But don’t worry - we’ll explain how you can do just that.
Migration From Monolithic to Microservice
To ensure the smoothest transition from monolithic to microservice, you have to consider the following.
To start, it’s important that you fully understand the monolithic architecture that your system uses. This includes all the parts, interdependencies, and features. From there, you can start analysing the monolith and identify the areas that can be split into independent services.
Once you’ve selected the components to separate, you need to outline their roles and define the limits of each microservice. During this phase, you must think about data consistency, duplication, and your entire system’s approach to data sharing and management.
After that, you can identify the services and start designing them. When picking services, it’s best to rank them in order of importance. This includes planning interactions, refactoring the in-place code, and containerising the services so they can be deployed independently.
Next, you’ll have to connect the different services with tools like synchronous APIS, asynchronous messaging, or event-driven structures. This also means building aids for managing the microservices, establishing a deployment pipeline, and ensuring that your infrastructure is scalable.
On top of that, it’s best to perform regular checks on your app. That way, you learn as much as possible about the microservice, making it easier to find areas of improvement.
During this process, it’s crucial to keep your development team in the loop. This can be quite a complicated process, so open communication and fallback plans are a must. This will make it much easier to keep the new architecture consistent while also making the entire process simpler.
What Should a Software Architect Do?
When you designate a software architect for a project, they take on a major responsibility. This is one of the most important roles in a development project, so it’s crucial that you choose the right person for the job.
Since the architect is responsible for making important decisions and handling multiple aspects of your project, there’s nothing wrong with taking your time when choosing the right fit for your needs.
To start, the main role of a software architect is being responsible for understanding the founder’s needs. This involves a deep dive into what the app is for, the target market, the required functionalities, and more. From there, they will determine and design the system architecture and determine how to create the best possible version for an app.
Throughout the entire process of developing the architecture, the architect must collaborate and consult with the stakeholders. It’s crucial that stakeholders are aware of what’s going on and suggest changes whenever the architecture deviates from their goals.
Additionally, the architect will likely provide technical guidance to the entire team and help troubleshoot different issues. Building an app’s or program’s software architecture is a complex task requiring a lot of time and effort. That’s why you must have a qualified and top-tier software architect on the job, constantly providing you with the necessary guidance.
The Basic Skills of a Software Architect
Since building software architecture is a hands-on and complex job, software architects require specific skills to get it done. On top of that, your architect may need additional skills that aren’t as common to help you figure out problems unique to your project.
To help you find the best architect for your project, here are some characteristics of a good software architect to look for before scheduling a software architect interview.
The first skill your architect needs is technical proficiency. Remember, the software architecture determines the functionality of your app and serves as an overall blueprint for development. That means the architect must figure out how the components of a project work together on a technical level.
On top of that, it’s on the architect to determine the best way for all the app components to communicate seamlessly, providing users with the best possible experience.
When hiring a software architect, you must ensure they have all the foundational knowledge necessary for building the architecture. It’s important to check their technical proficiency before anything else. This is because even if your architect has all the other basic skills, they won’t be able to do the job without technical knowledge and expertise.
System Design & Architecture
Alongside foundational technical abilities, architects need specialised knowledge in system design and architecture. Architectural principles and design patterns are a unique field, and understanding how to build software architecture requires years of experience in system design.
This involves analysing issues, finding solutions, and ensuring they create a well-structured architecture that meets the system’s overall needs and requirements.
There are always going to be problems when developing software. This is because small and nearly impossible-to-notice human and system errors can cause the entire system to fail.
While you can avoid mistakes and issues throughout the development process, it’s essential that you solve the problem as soon as possible. That way, you don’t experience costly delays when developing your app, which can be a founder’s worst nightmare.
This is why your software architect must possess various problem-solving abilities. No matter how well-planned the architecture is, there’s always a chance of major barriers getting in the way.
A good software architect should be able to make compromises and adjustments depending on the problems that arise while still meeting the needs and requirements of the entire system.
The software architecture skills include having strong critical thinking and analysis skills to do this. So, when interviewing different candidates, try to assess how well they’ll be able to solve problems when they arise.
Domain knowledge refers to industry-specific knowledge architects need to tackle problems and overcome road humps. It’s best to find software architects who are familiar with the type of software you need and your target market or clientele. This ensures a much smoother development process down the line.
Lastly, your architect needs to be able to adapt to changes. Again, you can’t avoid changes to the plan or even the architecture of your software.
This is why you need an architect who can find the best compromise when making changes to help you reach your goals. The more adaptable the architect, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.
How Do I Hire the Best Software Architect?
If you’re trying to find the best software architect available, you must take a deep dive.
You’ll need to find architects that have experience, take the time to understand your project, and always perform with your project’s best interests in mind. This may not be the easiest or quickest task, but rest assured that it’s absolutely essential if you want a smooth and easy development process.
Compatibility is just as important as the software architect's skills when hiring one for the job. This is why you need to ask specific system architect interview questions to learn if they’re the right fit for your team, on top of taking time to review the software architect profile.
We highly recommend using all the tools available to find the best architect. Even if you need to interview multiple candidates, it will all be worth it in the end.
Remember, you need a software architect for your specific needs. So, ask them questions and learn how they’ll get over the road humps associated with your industry.
What Tools Can I Use to Hire the Best Software Architect?
There are many tools available right now that can help you find the best software architect. For example, job boards and websites give you comprehensive listings of different architects who might be the right fit. You can also use applicant tracking systems and similar software to gauge candidates and find the right one.
However, when hiring a software architect, it’s best to go for one that sticks through the entire process. This is why some organisations prefer hiring full-on teams with developers, architects, and designers to ensure that all aspects of the project are cohesive.
Start Your Software Architecture Project Today!
DataMix brings your ideas to reality, all while taking the time to understand what you really need. We aim to help founders achieve their goals, whether you need software architects or comprehensive development. Give us a call today and get your project moving!
What four skills are essential to be a successful software architect?
The four essential skills for a software architect are basic technical knowledge, critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability. With these skills, the architect's success in the field will be much easier.
How do I recruit a software architect?
If you’re looking for a software architect, you’ll find the best ones here at DataMix. Our team is here to help you achieve your project goals, which start with good architecture. Contact us today to learn more.
What should you look for in software architects?
When looking for a software architect, it’s essential that you focus on compatibility. You have to ensure that they are the right fit for your company and you can build a good working relationship with them. That way, the entire process will be much smoother.
Can a software architect also be a developer?
Yes, but they don’t have to be developers. While your architect needs basic technical knowledge, they can also work alongside various developers and bring your project to life.