Architecture Is Not Just for Architects

A tenet of our architecture-centric engineering (ACE) work at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) is that architecture is not just for architects. Architects certainly are important stakeholders, but so are implementers, requirements engineers, product marketers, testers, and high-level managers. We believe that architecture plays an important role throughout the lifetime of a system and hence is important to many (if not all) of the stakeholders who have important roles throughout the lifetime of a system.

Another tenet of our work is that architecture is not an end in and of itself, but rather it is a means to help ensure that a system will meet its mission and business goals. Hence we are not only concerned with a system’s architecture. We are concerned with how the architecture relates to the system’s business and mission goals and how it relates to the system itself. If the conclusions that you can draw about the architecture can’t be applied to the system itself, the architecture isn’t serving its purpose.

We also believe that the notion of architecture is enduring and widely applicable. Architecture will be as important in 20 years as it is today, and it is applicable to systems of all sizes (from stand-alone systems, to systems of systems, to ultra-large-scale systems) and all domains. Why? Because architecture is the key abstraction for reasoning about the quality of a system starting from its early stages of development, through implementation, and as it evolves to meet changing mission and business goals.

These tenets guide the work that we do.

– Mark Klein, SEI


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