Software Architecture: Everything You Need to Know

May 31, 2024 Amy Williams
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When developing applications, it is important to consider how they will be maintained in the future. It is necessary to think through the specifics of adding changes and editing functionality. Additionally, it is important to understand how external interface elements interact with internal processes and the principles by which users will interact with the program. This is where software architecture comes in. Let’s explore what it is, how it works, and why it is needed.

What is Software Architecture?

Software architecture is the designed structure of a program, which includes defining the interaction of interface components with the program’s internal processes. In simpler terms, it is an approach that determines which functions are responsible for what and how they interact with each other.

There is no precise understanding or clear formulation of this process. The main goal is to create a logical structure of the program and simplify interactions between developers. This allows for future changes to the program by working on specific aspects rather than redoing the entire software. Software architecture and design ensure that the application will perform its tasks and follow its intended purpose, determined during the initial stages of development.

The main idea of architecture is to reduce the complexity of the system’s perception by delineating responsibilities and creating a clear structure. Software architecture and design enable the creation of a clear structure that is convenient for programmers to work with. The quality of the architecture determines how easy it will be to maintain, modify, extend, and support the software.

Why is Software Architecture Necessary?

Software architecture serves several important functions:

  • It defines the structure of the program and allows understanding how it is organized, at what levels certain tasks and functions are performed.
  • It determines the behavior and interaction of elements, making it clear what happens when a certain action is performed.
  • It identifies significant and secondary elements, allowing for an assessment of development costs and determining which elements are essential and which can be omitted for economic reasons.
  • It helps to understand the scalability of the program, how difficult it will be to implement new features, and what technology stack to use.
  • It allows meeting client needs and adapting the program to conflicting requirements, such as high functionality and time constraints, making it clear how to implement these.
  • It enables understanding logical connections within the program.
  • It allows for proper documentation and clear description of functionality, significantly simplifying future maintenance, making changes, and working with existing functionality.

These are the main tasks that software architecture performs. Its implementation significantly simplifies development, makes it clear what the final product will look like, and how all functions will work. Software project architecture allows for the creation of high-quality software and reduces the costs of its maintenance and support in the future.

Architectural Patterns

For many tasks in developing architecture, patterns or templates are used. They help solve common problems more quickly, positively affecting development time and simplifying many processes. A pattern describes a specific task, and when it reoccurs in a certain context, applying it allows you to “not reinvent the wheel” but use a ready-made solution.

A template is a specific description of the interaction of various elements and classes that make up the software solution architecture, adapted to the context of a particular task and design requirements. By identifying key objects in the structure and reusing them, the pattern simplifies the process of building the architecture.

Each pattern has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few examples of common architectural patterns and a brief description of their principles.

Layered Pattern

The principle of this pattern is that the entire system is divided into layers displayed in a diagram. Each layer can only call one other layer below it. This allows changes to specific components of the program without affecting other areas, although it complicates the architecture and makes it quite heavy, impacting performance.

Mediator Pattern

If a program consists of many modules, direct interaction can be complex and confusing. A mediator is introduced to simplify this interaction, allowing modules to communicate easily. Functional compatibility between components increases immediately, but the mediator is a weak link. If it fails, the entire system may stop working.

Model-View-Controller (MVC)

The essence of the pattern is that the interface is separated from the data. This allows changing the interface without disrupting the system’s principles. It is used in programs where the interface needs to be changed regularly.

Client-Server Pattern

The architecture of software using the client-server pattern is quite popular in applications where it is necessary to restrict consumer access to certain resources. This approach allows for program scalability and makes the system accessible and understandable.

Factory Method Pattern

Allows adding new objects of different types. Using standard methods of addition would increase the code size, reducing the application’s performance and scattering components throughout the code. This pattern simplifies the process of adding new objects and keeps the system independent.

Styles and Models of Software Architecture

Software architecture and design can have an attribute called style. It helps bring a certain uniformity. It is defined using the above-described patterns, specific connectors, and components. The key role of the style is to create a clear and coherent architecture.

A style is a set of principles that allows using patterns and reducing the structure to a unified and easy-to-understand form. It is a way to a common understanding and language. If one team of developers designs the architecture and another team introduces changes to the functionality, the style is the link that allows understanding the structure. Here are a few examples of styles used in software project architecture.


A style where the entire program system is divided into two applications, where the client can make requests to the server.

Component-Based Architecture

The entire design is broken down into logical and functional components. They can be reused, and the connection interfaces are carefully worked out.

Problem-Oriented Design

This style allows for the development of business processes and focuses on creating models of business activity of the application.

Multilayered Architecture

Each functional area is divided into layers, allowing separate work with each one.

Message Bus

A style that allows sending messages through multiple channels, enabling module interaction without providing specific data to the modules.

3-Tier Architecture

Functionality is divided into specific segments, similar in structure to multilayered architecture. The difference is that the segments are physically located on different computers.

Object-Oriented Style

Each object is independent and reusable, containing a set of data and behavior, with system responsibility distributed among these objects.

Service-Oriented Style

It uses separate services providing program functionality. They exchange messages and form a unified environment while remaining independent of each other.

Security in Software Architecture

Security in software architecture directly impacts all aspects of development, usage, and support. Modern software architecture must have secure data, functions, and resources protected from unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction. At the same time, the software should not pose a threat to other systems or users.


The software provides access to its data and functions only to those persons or systems that have the right to it. Confidentiality can be ensured using various mechanisms such as authentication, authorization, encryption, auditing, and control.


The software maintains and processes data and functions without errors, failures, or interference from external or internal agents. Integrity is ensured by mechanisms such as validation, verification, backup, recovery, hashing, digital signatures, and others.


The software can provide data and functions to its users or systems at the required time and with the necessary performance. Availability is ensured through tools like scaling, load distribution, caching, monitoring, error detection and correction, replication, and others.


The software can detect, prevent, and respond to any attempts to breach its security or violate security policies. To ensure immutability, firewalls, antivirus programs, gateways, intrusion detectors, analyzers, logs, alerts, etc., are used.


The software meets all requirements and standards of regulators, laws, and contracts regarding its security. Compliance can be ensured and documented through certifications, audits, inspections, and regular reporting.


Software architecture in simple terms is the overall structure and organization of a system, describing how different components of the program interact with each other. Architecture breaks down the system into different parts called components, which interact with each other through interfaces.

Summarizing what software architecture is and why it is important, we emphasize that it:

  • Defines the system’s structure, establishing a logical structure by breaking it into components. This facilitates understanding and development.
  • Promotes modularity, allowing the system to be divided into independent modules and facilitating the reuse of components.
  • Isolates components, defining clear interfaces between them, allowing them to be isolated and modified independently.
  • Simplifies team development and provides an understanding of what each team member is working on.
  • Significantly eases the integration of different parts of the system.
  • Allows focusing on testing individual modules thanks to their isolation.
  • Simplifies deployment by clearly defining components that can be deployed separately.
  • Ensures scalability, making it easier to scale individual parts of the system.

And this is really just a minimal list of the capabilities provided by modern and quality software architecture. There are indeed many more, and their relevance depends on the specifics of your project.

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