Two reasons why good IT architecture matters: IBM's Grady Booch

Good architecture can open up new lines of business from an existing platform.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Michael McDonald and Kim Chandler McDonald recently spoke with Grady Booch, IBM's leading thinker on delivering technology-driven solutions to enterprises and society, as well as co-creator of the Unified Modeling Language. In part 3 of their three-part series, Booch spoke of the importance of architecture and collaboration.

Architecture can help address delivery on business demand in a number of ways, and Booch cited two ways the business benefits:

One way is to open up new lines of business opportunities. For example, Booch explains that he worked with a container shipping company to build a tracking system that they were later able to deploy as a service to other companies, and essentially become a Software-as-a-Service provider.  "By having a focused-upon architecture, they were able to devise a platform – this is a decade before Salesforce.com and these kind of things – and they could then go into a completely new business and dominate that side of the marketplace."   Here is an example where a focused-upon architecture has a real, material, strategic business implication.

In addition, architecture plays a key role in helping organizations to capture or maintain their institutional memory as it pertains to systems. "The code is the truth, but the code is not the whole truth.  So, in so far as we can retain the tribal memory of why things are the way they are, it helps you preserve the investment you made in building that software in the first place."

Domain-specific architectures "provide islands against which people can build things," Booch adds.  "Amazon is a good example of such a platform."

Booch, credited with shaping modern application and systems development best practices, also expressed concern about the effects of fast-paced globalization on today's software development work. The elements essential for making development teams work -- trust and serendipity -- may be vanishing with teams so widespread and working "virtually" with one another. "The way we split teams across the world doesn’t encourage either trust or serendipity," he warns.

(Photo: Wikipedia.)

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