IEEE Software sponsored two outstanding presenter awards during the Sixth Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Architecture Technology User Network (SATURN) Conference, in May 2010. The awards were created to honor presenters for their contributions to architecture-centric practices. The awards, the first ever at a SATURN conference, were conferred based directly on conference attendees’ votes.
A joint committee consisting of IEEE Software board and SATURN technical committee members created the awards with the goal of contributing to the maturation of architecture-centric engineering practice. The Architecture in Practice Presentation Award recognizes excellent description of architecture-centric practices in real-world projects, whereas the New Directions Award recognizes excellent presentation of emerging ideas about how architecture-centric practices can catalyze change and innovation in today’s practices to deliver better systems faster.
The conference attendees awarded the Architecture in Practice Award to Anthony Tsakiris, a vehicle-controls technical specialist from Ford Motor Company, for his presentation titled “Managing Software Interfaces of On-Board Automotive Controllers.” Tsakiris summarized an effort at Ford to standardize the control-system software interfaces across a set of in-vehicle, software-intensive controllers in an automotive setting. His presentation described the re-architecting of a system from a conventional power train to a hybrid electric power train within organizational and legacy-system constraints. Tsakiris emphasized the importance of having an architecture roadmap. He also suggested that when organizational habits are deeply rooted, evolving existing products and processes can be more effective than trying to revolutionize them. Tsakaris succeeded by slowly introducing architecture-centric practices, working incrementally from implementation to architecture, and persistently allocating time to educate his team about the architecture.
Managing system evolution was a strong thread among this year’s presentations. Tsakiris’s point that an architecture roadmap can significantly increase the quality of the end result was unanimously advanced by presenters from ABB and Credit Suisse.
The New Directions Presentation Award went to Olaf Zimmermann, senior IT architect and currently a research staff member at IBM Zurich Research Lab, for his presentation titled “An Architectural Decision Modeling Framework for SOA and Cloud Design.” Zimmermann talked about how reusable architectural decision models can guide the architect through architectural decisions in SOA/cloud design. The work Zimmermann presented aims to influence the way architectural decisions are captured and used throughout the software development life cycle. Through this work, architectural decision rationale could become another essential viewpoint of architecture. Zimmermann also asserted that this important aspect of software architecture should be viewed not as capturing decisions retrospectively but as using them proactively to improve system design.
Tzakiris’s and Zimmermann’s presentations fit into the larger theme of the conference, architecting for change. Several presentations emphasized the need for organizations to meet their business goals in rapidly and continuously changing environments by reconciling agile software development and software architecture. Jim Highsmith in his keynote stated that architects can accelerate agility by being not only architects of structure but also of time and transition; by creating agile design rules; and by developing technical-debt prevention and reduction strategies. Philippe Kruchten offered a zipper metaphor for combining functional features and architectural tasks in iteration planning.
The consistent message, echoed in the March/April 2010 Agility and Architecture issue of IEEE Software, was that agile development and software architecture are not oppositional, but that people in all systems development roles must do their part in building high-quality software that meets its business and stakeholder goals.
The award-winning presentations, as well as the keynote and other presentations from the SATURN 2010 Conference, are available for download at www.sei.cmu.edu/saturn/2010.
— Ipek Ozkaya, SEI
This summary is also online at the IEEE Software website.