11th Apr, 2023
In today's digital age, custom software development has become increasingly important for businesses across various industries. However, developing a custom software solution that meets the needs of an organisation can be a complex and challenging process. This is where solution architecture comes in - it provides a strategic and structured approach to custom software development that can help ensure that the end product meets the organisation's needs.
Solution architecture is important because businesses progressively adopt technology to improve operations and increase competitiveness.
Global corporate app sales will rise from $279.6 billion in 2022 to $385.2 billion in 2026, according to a new IDC estimate. ~Source
With the rapid growth of the software market, it's crucial for businesses to invest in proper solution architecture for their custom software development projects. This can help ensure that the software solution meets their business requirements, is scalable, and can adapt to changing business needs.
In this article, we'll explore the importance of solution architecture in custom software development and the benefits it can provide to businesses.
In the software development process, solution architecture is the stage where all project stakeholders come together to determine what type of application they want to build.
This requires great collaboration between various functional teams that may only work together occasionally.
Solution architecture is a high-level view of how the application will be built and how it will work. It includes a broad range of activities that include:
The product development lifecycle is a series of phases that software development teams follow to build and launch a product. The most common phases in a software development lifecycle are creativity, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Each phase has its own set of tasks and deliverables that are all interconnected.
The product development lifecycle helps teams effectively manage the software development process.
Solution architecture is critical to the product development lifecycle in custom software development. It ensures that the software solution meets the business requirements, is scalable, and is maintainable. Solution architecture helps to minimise risks and maximise the value of the solution.
Here are the phases of the product development lifecycle and how solution architecture fits into each phase:
One of the main reasons an organisation should hire a solutions architect is to successfully design and build new technology solutions that meet the needs of the business and bridge the communication gap between technical and non-technical professionals involved in a software development project.
Here are some other significant advantages of solutions architecture:
The solution architecture is the blueprint for all your company's systems and applications. It provides a unifying vision to help your organisation decide what technologies to use and how to implement them.
The solution architecture is the foundation for all other architectural decisions. The rest of the system will likely crumble beneath it if it is not built on solid ground.
A strong foundation will provide stability, flexibility, and scalability as the business grows.
A robust solution architecture will ensure your company can grow as needed without requiring major changes to existing systems or applications.
This means it must be flexible enough to accommodate new software and additional users without requiring rewrites or additional resources from IT teams.
Here are some of the common patterns used in solution architecture design:
You've probably heard of multi-layered, tiered, or n-tier architecture. This architecture has become increasingly popular among designers and software architects due to its similarities to the traditional IT communication setups seen in many startups and large corporations. The four layers of a layered architecture are frequently categorised as presentation, business, persistence, and database.
However, the design is not limited to these layers and can include an application, service, or data access layer. Well-known frameworks like Java EE used this architectural paradigm.
Let's look at an eCommerce web application as an example. The presentation tier receives the business logic from the application tier to process a shopping cart activity, such as calculating the cart.
The application tier serves, in this case, as an integration layer to create frictionless communication between the data and presentation layers. The data tier, the final tier, is also used to maintain data independently of the application server and business logic.
An event-driven pattern is an architectural pattern that emphasises using events to communicate between different system components. In this pattern, events are generated by certain actions within the system, and then they are sent to other system components that have registered to receive those events.
Let's suppose a system that monitors website traffic. When a user accesses the website, an event is generated and sent to a component that logs the user's visit. The same event is also sent to a component that analyses the user's behaviour on the website.
In the microkernel pattern, a system is divided into a core system (the microkernel) and a set of plug-ins that interact with it. The core system provides basic services such as memory management, thread scheduling, and inter-process communication, while the plug-ins provide the specific functionality of the system.
An example of this pattern is the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Eclipse has a core system that provides basic services such as file management and text editing, while plug-ins provide functionality for different programming languages and other features.
The microservices pattern is an architectural pattern that divides a system into a set of independent, self-contained services that communicate with each other through APIs. Each microservice performs a specific task and provides the system's functionality.
Let's take the example of the Netflix streaming service. Netflix has a set of microservices that handle user authentication, content recommendation, and streaming video delivery.
The space-based pattern is an architectural pattern that uses a shared memory space as a communication medium between different system components. In this pattern, each component stores and retrieves data from the shared memory space, which acts as a buffer between the components.
An example of this pattern is the JavaSpaces technology. JavaSpaces provides a shared memory space that allows components to store and retrieve objects. This pattern is particularly useful for systems that handle large amounts of data, such as financial systems or scientific simulations.
The importance of solution architecture in custom software development cannot be overstated. Proper architecture is critical for ensuring that a custom software solution meets all of the organisation's business requirements, as well as, on a scalable and agile approach. Can we possibly just rephrase this last sentence? It’s been repeated a couple of times already.
A well-designed solution architecture can reduce development time and cost and improve the software solution's quality and performance.
Our experts at Dotcom Software offer consulting solutions for solution architecture tailored to the client organisation's specific needs. Our team of experienced solution architects works closely with clients to understand their business requirements and then designs a solution architecture aligned with them.
Dotcom Software's solution architecture consulting services cover many areas, including cloud architecture, microservices architecture, and event-driven architecture.
Contact us to discuss your particular needs and get a customised solution!