Monday, May 17, 2004

Architecture and Abstraction

SOA calls upon designers and architects to operate at a higher level of abstraction.

One mode of abstraction commonly associated with information architects is generalization - they are often thought to operate mainly with generalized business objects/processes, such as CUSTOMER and SALES.

But this is actually not where the real architectural challenges lie.

Instead, architects need to reason explicitly about system structure and dynamics - cohesion and coupling, composition and decomposition, change and emergence. They need to understand granularity and stratification as active choices, rather than text-book patterns.

But the generally available architectural practices and modelling notations simply do not support these challenges. How are architects supposed to pay attention to such concerns as coupling and flexibility, when they are working with models that don’t make these concerns visible, and with practices that don’t support reasoning about these concerns?

We are developing tools and techniques to support this reasoning, and the development of architectural knowledge and know-how.

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