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Creating Software Modernization Roadmaps: The Architecture Options Workshop

April 2016 Conference Paper
Neil Ernst, Mary Popeck, Felix Bachmann, Patrick Donohoe

This paper introduces the Architecture Options Workshop, which addresses the problems of moving from identified system risks to potential design options.

Abstract

This paper was published by the IEEE in the proceedings of the 2016 13th Working IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture (WICSA), April 5–8, 2016, pp. 71–80.

Architecture modernization requires a clear roadmap to transition to a new state. However, creating that roadmap is often difficult, particularly in complex settings. This paper investigates how one might systematically derive such roadmaps. We introduce the Architecture Options Workshop (AOWS), a systematic treatment to address the problems of moving from identified system risk themes to potential design options, and a roadmap for implementation. Many techniques present a range of options and leave it to stakeholders to select, or are tailored for detailed design processes. The Architecture Options Workshop, by contrast, is intended to resolve the question of what options to choose at a high level of abstraction. Applying a technical action research approach, we applied the AOWS to three different real-world systems. We describe the advantages—reasonably efficient, systematic architecture modernization—and some remaining questions for future research.