The world basically runs on software these days. After all, there are nearly 15 billion digital devices in use worldwide. That’s almost two devices for every person in the world. And that doesn’t include PCs and laptops. And, there are about 35 apps installed on each of these devices.
So if you want to compete in the global software market, you need a solid infrastructure. And you need to make sure that you have the right technology to build, maintain, update, and optimize your software architecture.
In this article, we will introduce some things to consider when choosing your software architecture tools. We will also list some popular technologies currently in use to help you decide on a software development stack that is right for you.
What is a technology stack?
A technology stack, or tech stack, is a list of the software, frameworks, technologies, programming languages, etc. that go into building your software or service. Your tech stack will need to include technologies to help in the development of the front end (client side) and back end (server side) parts of your product.
The front end
The back end
The back end facilitates communication between the application’s components. This communication helps each component understand how to respond to user interactions. The parts of the back end include programming languages, databases, and servers.
Servers process and act on requests received from the users. The most popular servers are Nginx and Apache.
Criteria for choosing software architecture tools
Just like a strong foundation is needed to support a building, you need a strong tech stack to support your business infrastructure. Everything your company does will be built on this tech stack.
There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all tech stack. What you use will depend on what you’re hoping to accomplish. And because there are so many different tools to choose from, finding the right ones can be a little daunting. To help you to hone in on the set that is right for you, consider the following criteria:
What is the need?
Don’t fall into the trap of choosing technology because it’s the next big trend. There has to be a need that the technology can fill. Answering the following questions can help you decide the right set of tools for your company.
What do we need the tech to do for us?
Prioritize your choices based on business needs. For example, if diagramming your architecture is a priority, look at software architecture diagramming tools like Lucidchart.
Is it flexible enough to grow with the company’s long-term vision?
The technology might solve an immediate problem, but if it isn’t flexible and can’t grow to meet your needs, you’ll need to look for something else.
Do we really need something new?
If your current architecture and supporting software are doing the job, don’t rock the boat.
The type of project you are working on will also determine what you need from your technology. For example, a simple project like a landing page can be completed with simple HTML and CMS. A more complex project like a social network will require a mix of programming languages and robust frameworks like React or Angular.
How much will it cost?
While it’s true that you need to spend money to make money, it’s still important to remain aware of your company’s budget when researching software architecture tools. Knowing the budget keeps you from wasting time and effort on products the company is unwilling to pay for.
Another cost consideration is people. If the technology is relatively easy to use, chances are your current staff can work with it. But if the technology is complex and hard to learn, you may need to pay top dollar to loop in specialists and experts.
Licensing is another cost issue you should look at. Is it an open-source license? Is the licensing per user, per network, per month, per year?
Is the technology mature?
For long-term goals and mission-critical projects, it’s best to go with mature technology. You’ll want to look at:
- How many years has it been in development?
- How many releases have there been?
- Who currently uses it? If your competitors are successfully using the technology, it’s probably mature enough to work for you.
- Is it well maintained?
The Tiobe Index is a good place to look at current technology trends. This index is updated every month and lists the most popular programming languages currently in use. It is a good starting point for evaluating which technologies are in use and mature enough for your needs.
Is it compatible with existing tools?
If you're still tied to some legacy tools and technologies, you’ll want to consider how well new technology will work with them. If the integration of a new stack requires a huge reworking of existing infrastructure, it may not be the right stack for you. You will also need to look at the existing tools to see if they can be upgraded or scaled to work with new solutions.
Is the technology scalable?
Is your product meant to scale? If it is, then you’ll want to make sure that it is built on a solid foundation that can easily scale alongside your product.
Companies use vertical or horizontal scaling to improve performance. Vertical scaling refers to adding more stuff (processes, programs, etc.) to a single computing device. Horizontal scaling refers to adding more hardware (such as servers) to the system. To help you find the tech stack that will allow you to scale without collapsing, consider these questions:
- Will the tech stack let me scale to meet performance requirements?
- How easy will it scale horizontally?
- How well does it scale vertically compared to other options?
Is the technology secure?
Security should always be a concern during project development. You want authorized users to be able to easily access what they need while keeping out prying eyes. Consider the following when looking for security solutions:
- Identity access management and role-based access control
- Intrusion prevention
- Data loss prevention
Are there third party players?
If your products and services will be hosted by a third-party cloud service, your tech stack needs to be compatible with their technology to allow for smooth deployment and updates.
How well is the technology documented?
We hear all the time that nobody reads the documentation. But documentation can make good software architecture tools great by giving you additional information, examples, scenarios, and other details that make it easier to learn and use them. On the other hand, the greatest libraries and frameworks in the world could be rendered useless if nobody knows how to use them.
The documentation should be clear, concise, and easy for the target audience to use and understand.
It is also very important to document everything you create with your chosen tech stack. Don’t let that important information reside inside somebody’s head. Document everything so the information is not lost when people move on to other opportunities. Lucidchart Cloud Insights is a great tool for automatically documenting and visualizing your cloud architecture.
Tech stack evolution
Technology is constantly changing. So it should not surprise you when your tech stack needs to be updated periodically to keep up with the times. Sometimes change will be drastic, requiring you to do a complete overhaul such as replacing obsolete legacy technology. But most of the time the changes are more subtle with an upgrade here or there. In any case, always be prepared to make changes as necessary.
Zero in on important cloud details using Lucidchart Cloud Insights to filter and view critical areas of your architecture diagram.