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Agile in Distress: Architecture to the Rescue

May 2014 Conference Paper
Robert Nord, Ipek Ozkaya, Philippe Kruchten

For large-scale software-development endeavors, agility is enabled by architecture, and vice versa, and architecture supports high-priority business features.

Publisher:

Springer International Publishing AG

Abstract

This paper was published in Agile Methods: Large-Scale Development, Refactoring, Testing, and Estimation, Volume 199 of the series Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, pp 43-57.

For large-scale software-development endeavors, agility is enabled by architecture, and vice versa. The iterative, risk-driven life cycle inherent in agile approaches allows developers to focus early on key architectural decisions, spread these decisions over time, and validate architectural solutions early. Conversely, an early focus on architecture allows a large agile project to define an implementation structure that drives an organization into small teams, some focusing on common elements and their key relationships and some working more autonomously on features. Architects in agile software development typically work on three distinct but interdependent structures: architecture of the system, the structure of the development organization, and the production infrastructure. Architectural work supports the implementation of high-priority business features without risking excessive redesign later or requiring heavy coordination between teams. Architectural tactics provide a framework for identifying key concerns and guide the alignment of these three structures throughout the development life cycle.