Does Architecture Matter Any More?

I’ve been reading up on the whole cloud/mashups/social computing thing and the above question occurred to me. Within the context of what are essentially several new architectural styles what is the role of the architect in all of this and what exactly is the architecture he or she is trying to create? In attempting to answer this question my mind diverted to an IT architecture course that I have been lucky enough to teach on a number of occasions both inside and outside IBM. The course is called Architectural Thinking. I imagine (hope) that some people reading this will have attended that class and it occurred to me just how clever the people that created the first version of that class back in 1999 were. The key word of course is thinking. It’s not a class about a particular style of architecture, about a particular architectural process and is certainly (thankfully) not about any particular technology. The key part of that class is about how to think about problems and create architectures, often using an existing style or pattern, to come up with solutions to a client’s business problem. The main axiom being that the architecture should drive the technology and not the other way round. In other words it’s about the fundamentals that never go out of style or, to paraphrase Grady Booch:

Architectural styles come and go but the enduring fundamentals (crisp abstractions; clear separation of concerns; balanced distribution of responsibilities; simplicity) endure and never go out of style.

This course is available outside of IBM for clients so if anyone is interested in running the class get in touch with me on here.

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