Epidata, the Argentine business that pioneers software architecture in the region and the University Andrés Bello, organised last month the First Latin American Conference of Software Architecture in Santiago, Chile, with the objective of analysing and debating, together with the academic and professional community, the importance and the recent advances in software architecture. The event consisted of exhibitions, conferences and debate tables, and it brought a contribution of great value to the advancement of the discipline in the region.
At 14 years since the first book was published solely about software architecture, it is important to reflect on what the bases are that form this specific field, within the area of software engineering. The conferences, carried out in record time, allowed the proposal of an open dialogue about some themes that merit discussion time. What is software architecture? Which factors influence software architecture to make it adequate for a system? What is necessary to have in mind in order to choose a good software architect? What should one have to do to become a good software architect? What is the level of maturity of this area of software engineering?
With a panel of speakers comprised of businessmen, professionals, investigators and software engineering teachers, they analysed and debated themes such as the existence (or lack) of software architecture, the potential to create software of an engineering nature and different focuses on the discipline. Amongst the exhibitors who participated, the most notable were members of Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Banco de Crédito e Inversiones, companies that sponsored the event.

It is the first time that a meeting of this type has been carried out in the region, orientated towards professionals and students of this sector, in which we feel that we are playing a fundamental role for the discipline.

Claudio DesalvoManaging Partner and co-founder of Epidata

Recent international studies confirm that at least 80% of the applications put into production over the last year have suffered from performance and availability problems, generating a negative impact that was not foreseen in the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of the applications. That is to say that the main problem is not usually one of functionality but, generally, a lack of the planned quality attributes.

Aside from these facts and figures regarding the situation in Latin America, the software architecture conferences were concerned with deepening the analysis and the importance that the software architecture has, to serve as a “bridge” between the quality requirements of an application, its productive display and a successful evolutionary post-sale upkeep. Some parts of this “bridge” were built throughout the 10 discussions, which were focused on aspects such as:

  • Software architecture evaluation
  • SOA (Services Oriented to Architecture)
  • The impact of the quality attribute Security on software architecture
  • The usage of frameworks and structures for the business-university cooperation in the area (with one case of success)
  • The creation and use of DSL (Domain Specific Languages)
  • MDA (Model Driven Architecture)
  • The role of the architects in the industry (real experience).

Events like this, of such quality and magnitude, have a strong impact on divulgence and innovation, particularly in this case, through the effective and efficient implementation of software architecture practices. There was a strong consensus amongst the speakers and the public, to use the same definition of software architecture, to contextualise the convention: “Software architecture of a program or system is the structure/s of a system, which includes the software components, the visible external property of these elements and the relationships between them”.

The event ended with a debate table, consisting of an enthusiastic group that spoke about South American politics, strategy, investigation, entrepreneurship and a profound analysis on the relation between the academic and the industrial side of things; all this, in the context of engineering and software architecture.