Many many years ago I was a young Army executive officer(XO) in a tank company doing some training at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. My CO and I were conducting some tactical training exercises for our tank crews. We were using parachute signal flares to signal the tanks to do certain things during the exercise. As luck would have it one of the flares came down on what appeared to be a small patch of grass several hundred yards away from our position. We saw some smoke rising from the patch of grass but we chose to ignore it and continue with the exercises. To make a long story short, the small patch of grass was actually much bigger than we thought. We spent the next several hours in 95 degree heat putting out the rather large fire (We had no water, only shovels).
Software architecture in the corporate IT landscape is very much like the small grass fire that turns into a very real wildfire. We tend to either ignore it completely or over indulge it. Neither of which is very good for the primary business and usually gets out of control pretty fast. There is a delicate balancing act that has to occur on a daily basis in a corporate IT shop. The needs of business have to be met. There really isn't any arguing with that. It's how you meet those needs that is the question.
There really isn't a one size fits all answer to that question. Despite opinions coming from analyst, bloggers(including myself) and others, there isn't one correct way. What works for each individual organization is going to vary. Finding the middle path which balances good enough architecture with the dynamic needs of the business is really the key. These are the two two questions you should be asking in my opinion; Am I delivering the value to the business that the business wants? Is my architecture or lack there of negatively impacting the business? If you are delivering the value, by the businesses measurement not yours, and your architecture is not causing issues for the business then you probably have found the middle path.
The last piece of advice is do not ignore the small smoking grass fires.
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