As with many hot topics in information technology, a consensus
has been formed about something being "a really good
thing"-- an "architecture" in this caseeven
though no two people seem to define the term the same way.
In fact, the Software
Engineering Institute's Web site has an entire section
devoted to various definitions of software architecture. If
you aren't satisfied with any of the listed definitions, you
can add your own via their Web site!
One of the definitions quoted most often was coined by David
Garlan and Dewayne Perry at Carnegie Mellon University in
1995. It simply states that a software architecture is "the
structure of the components of a program/system, their interrelationships,
and principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution
over time." The last phrase is important; it adds the
concept of rules to what is typically seen as a static representation
of a system. The work MITRE is doing now in support of our
sponsors is intended to guide the development and evolution
of Command and Control (C2), Intelligence, and Combat Support
systems well into the next century. Those rules, which govern
how the architecture is applied and then extended, are at
least as important as the components and interfaces themselves.
The importance of establishing a sound architectural foundation
for a system or system-of-systems has been acknowledged by
the Defense Department, which has gone to great lengths to
define what it considers to be the three primary architectural
viewstechnical, system, and operationaland their
This issue of The Edge is devoted to a cross-section of the
architecture-related efforts MITRE is working on in support
of its sponsor community. The articles on the Defense Modeling
and Simulation Office's "High Level Architecture"
and The National Imagery and Mapping Agency's "NITRO"
architecture are case studies of projects that define and
implement domain-specific software architectures. The article,
"Software Architecture in Reverse," discusses an
approach for recovering a software architecture from an existing
software system. The article, "New Architecture Directions,"
describes the Defense Department's new model for developing
and describing architectures. There is also a summary and
web address for the article "The Advanced Information
Technology Services (AITS) Architecture," which describes
MITRE's work in helping to define the next generation computing
environment for C2 and Combat Support within the Defense Department.
It represents architectural work being done at the "system-of-systems"
For more information, please contact guest
editor Rick Rudman using the employee directory.