Digital Garden of Paul

Three Types Of Architecture

Types of architecture

Hope recognises three definitions of architecture:

  • Systems architecture
    • Designing the structure and relationships between a system's components. It will exhibit trade-offs in behaviour
  • Doing architecture
    • Consciously choose what architecture your system should have
  • Organising architecture
    • Architecture is done by people. They’re typically called architects and when we mention “architecture” we might refer to the team that they are working in.

Models of organising architecture

  1. Benevolent dictator: An architect or architect team telling developers what to do or how to do things. An important nuance is to what extent the line is unidirectional or bi-directional.

  2. Primus inter pares: Architects are embedded into teams where they are just-another-team-member but one who focuses on the system structure and trade-offs, perhaps taking a longer-term view compared to other team members (and using a fancy Latin name).

  3. Architecture without architects: Architecture is done within teams, however the task is a shared responsibility across multiple (or all) team members. This can work quite well and is often the preferred model.

  4. Inmates running the asylum: This one looks deceivingly like #3, but the difference is that no one is consciously performing the task of architecture. The result is often excessive complexity and reduced velocity, meaning the teams come to a grinding halt.

Hope also recognises a combination of the first and the second archetype:

The gentle dictator There is a central architecture team but architects are also embedded into the project teams. Three variants of this combination are common:

  • The project architects might form a “guild” in the Spotify sense.
  • The architects might belong to the central architecture team but are seconded into the project teams.
  • Architects might “graduate” from a central architecture team into the project teams, carrying the central team’s strategy into the teams.

Three Types Of Architecture