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Software architecture and design trend 2023

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Nov 29, 2023
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Software Architecture and Design Trend 2023
Source: InfoQ, 2023

2023 is almost coming to the end. It’s always a good idea to reflect back on what has been the popular topic on Software Architecture and Design over the last one year.

In this article, we will discuss some of the common software architecture and design that are widely adopted as reported by InfoQ. We will primarily focus on the Innovators and Early Adopters section as the Early Majority and Late Majority are usually widely known.

The concept of Design for Portability is gaining traction, with frameworks like Dapr focusing on a cloud-native abstraction model. This approach enables architects to separate business logic from implementation details.

Large language models are poised to have a significant impact in various ways, such as aiding in the comprehension of architectural trade-offs and empowering a new generation of low-code and no-code developers.

Sustainability in software design will become a prominent consideration in the years ahead, with efforts underway to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of software systems. While decentralized applications are expanding the utility of blockchain beyond cryptocurrency and NFTs, their adoption remains limited due to a lack of consumer demand.

Architects are continually seeking ways to enhance the documentation, communication, and comprehension of decisions, and it’s possible that large language models will play a role in the future, serving as forensic experts to analyze ADRs and git history.

Innovators:

Large Language Models: Large language models, such as GPT-3, represent a transformative leap in natural language processing and AI capabilities. These models, with their billions of parameters, have applications across various domains, from content generation and language translation to chatbots and code generation. They enable more human-like interactions with machines and have the potential to revolutionize how we communicate, work, and solve complex problems. However, they also raise important ethical and societal questions about biases in data, privacy concerns, and responsible AI deployment that require careful consideration as their usage proliferates.

Software Supply Chain Security: Software supply chain security has gained prominence as cyberattacks targeting the software development process have become more prevalent. It involves ensuring the integrity and security of the components and dependencies that make up software applications. This includes verifying the authenticity of code libraries, monitoring for vulnerabilities, and implementing robust practices for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Recent high-profile supply chain attacks, like the SolarWinds breach, highlight the urgent need for organizations to strengthen their software supply chain security to protect their systems and data from malicious actors.

Design for Sustainability: Design for sustainability is a critical approach in various industries to reduce the environmental impact of products and services. It encompasses eco-friendly design principles, resource-efficient manufacturing processes, and product lifecycle considerations. Companies are increasingly integrating sustainability into their design and production practices to address climate change and reduce waste. Sustainable design includes using recycled materials, minimizing energy consumption, and creating products that can be easily recycled or repurposed, ultimately contributing to a more environmentally responsible and socially conscious business ecosystem.

GraphQL Federation: GraphQL federation is an architectural pattern that enables the composition of multiple GraphQL services into a unified API. It allows organizations to break down complex monolithic GraphQL schemas into smaller, more manageable services that can be developed and scaled independently. Federation provides a powerful way to handle large and complex data graphs, making it easier to build efficient and flexible APIs. It’s particularly valuable for organizations dealing with microservices architectures, enabling them to maintain a single, cohesive GraphQL schema while distributing development efforts across teams.

Policy as Code: Policy as code is a practice that involves defining and enforcing policies and compliance requirements using code, typically in a declarative format. It’s widely used in the context of cloud infrastructure and DevOps to automate policy enforcement and ensure that systems adhere to security, governance, and compliance standards. By codifying policies, organizations can consistently apply and audit security measures, track changes, and reduce the risk of manual errors. Tools like Terraform and Kubernetes Policy as Code frameworks make it easier to implement and manage policies across complex, dynamic infrastructure environments.

HTTP/3: HTTP/3 is the latest version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the foundation of data communication on the World Wide Web. It introduces significant improvements in terms of speed, security, and efficiency compared to its predecessor, HTTP/2. HTTP/3 is built on the QUIC transport protocol, which minimizes latency by reducing connection setup times and optimizing data transmission. It also provides better performance for secure connections, making websites faster and more responsive. As web technologies continue to evolve, HTTP/3 plays a crucial role in improving the user experience and supporting modern web applications.

dApps: Decentralized applications, or dApps, are software applications built on blockchain technology. Unlike traditional apps that rely on centralized servers, dApps operate on decentralized networks, offering increased transparency, security, and censorship resistance. These applications use smart contracts, which are self-executing agreements with predefined rules, to facilitate transactions and automate processes. dApps have gained attention for their potential in various sectors, including finance, gaming, supply chain management, and more. However, challenges such as scalability and user adoption must be addressed for dApps to reach their full potential and become mainstream solutions in the digital landscape.

Early Adopters

Design for Portability: Design for portability is an essential principle in software and system architecture, emphasizing the creation of solutions that can seamlessly run across different environments and platforms. It involves minimizing dependencies on specific technologies or infrastructure, ensuring compatibility, and using standardized interfaces. By adhering to design for portability, organizations can achieve greater flexibility, reduce vendor lock-in, and simplify the migration of applications and services between cloud providers or deployment environments.

Data-Driven Architecture: A data-driven architecture centers around the efficient management and utilization of data as a core component of a system’s design. This approach places data at the forefront, focusing on data modeling, storage, and accessibility to support decision-making, analytics, and insights. Data-driven architectures often employ data warehouses, data lakes, and data pipelines to ensure data is available, accurate, and actionable for various business processes and applications.

Architecture as a Team Sport: Architecture as a team sport represents the collaborative nature of architectural design and decision-making within organizations. It acknowledges that architecture is not solely the responsibility of architects but involves input and contributions from various stakeholders, including developers, operations teams, business analysts, and more. Effective architectural decisions require cross-functional collaboration and a shared understanding of goals and constraints, promoting alignment and ensuring that architecture meets the needs of the entire organization.

WebAssembly (Server-side and Client-side): WebAssembly (Wasm) is a versatile technology that allows code to run at near-native speed in web browsers and beyond. On the client side, it enables web applications to execute high-performance code within a browser, making it possible to run applications efficiently across different platforms. On the server side, WebAssembly is used to enhance the performance of serverless functions and microservices, facilitating the deployment of lightweight and portable server-side code.

Design for Security: Design for security is a fundamental aspect of software and system architecture that prioritizes the identification and mitigation of potential security risks from the outset. It involves incorporating security measures into the architecture, such as access controls, encryption, authentication, and threat modeling, to protect against vulnerabilities and threats. By embedding security into the design, organizations can create more resilient systems and reduce the risk of security breaches and data breaches.

Design for Resilience: Design for resilience focuses on creating systems that can withstand and recover from failures and disruptions gracefully. This architectural approach involves redundancy, fault tolerance, and graceful degradation to ensure that even in adverse conditions, the system can continue to operate or recover with minimal downtime or data loss. Designing for resilience is critical in modern applications where uptime and availability are paramount.

Design for Observability: Design for observability emphasizes building systems that are easy to monitor and analyze. It involves instrumenting applications with logging, tracing, and metrics to gain insight into their behavior, performance, and health. By designing for observability, organizations can quickly detect and diagnose issues, leading to improved troubleshooting, faster incident response, and enhanced overall system reliability.

Micro Frontends: Micro frontends is an architectural pattern that extends the principles of microservices to the frontend layer of web applications. It involves breaking down the frontend into smaller, independently deployable components, each responsible for a specific part of the user interface. This approach enables teams to work on frontend components autonomously, facilitating faster development, testing, and deployment cycles while maintaining a cohesive user experience.

AsyncAPI: AsyncAPI is an emerging specification for designing, documenting, and defining the interface of asynchronous APIs. Similar to how OpenAPI is used for RESTful APIs, AsyncAPI helps developers and organizations standardize the description of message-driven systems, such as message queues and event-driven architectures. It provides a clear way to define the structure and behavior of messages, making it easier to build, integrate, and maintain asynchronous systems.

Workflow and Decision Automation Platforms: Workflow and decision automation platforms are software tools or frameworks designed to streamline and automate business processes and decisions. They enable organizations to model, execute, and monitor complex workflows, allowing for efficient automation of repetitive tasks and decisions. These platforms can be used across various industries, from finance and healthcare to supply chain management, to optimize operations and improve decision-making processes.

Low Code / No Code: Low code and no code are development approaches that empower users with varying levels of technical expertise to create software applications with minimal hand-coding. Low-code platforms provide a visual development environment with pre-built components and templates, while no-code platforms take simplicity a step further, often requiring no coding at all. These approaches accelerate application development, democratize software creation, and enable businesses to quickly respond to changing demands without the need for extensive programming skills.

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