Software Architects need these Four Essential Skills

Of course, strong technical ability is a requirement for anyone employed as a software architect. This role is almost always filled with someone who forged their skills working at least a few years as an application engineer. What separates the best architects from those merely holding the job title are the other intangibles necessary to thrive in today’s business world.

O’Reilly Media recently looked at four essential abilities a software architect needs to truly be successful in this era of Agile and DevOps. Let’s take a closer look at these skills to see if adding them to your toolbox makes you better at the practice of software development. Good luck!

Technical and Business Leadership

A good software architect knows how to lead the developers on his team, while also working closely with business stakeholders and project managers to ensure the project requirements are clearly defined with sufficient progress being achieved. Mark Richards, an experienced software architect and author, commented on the importance of this trait.

“It’s being a technical as well as business domain go-to person, it’s really to help clear roadblocks to the team so they can actually move forward. Being a leader as an architect means providing technical help and guidance, it means to help the team make decisions and form those decisions and validate them, and also to provide motivation to the team and support whether it be technical or non-technical support,” said Richards.

The Ability to Negotiate

Software architects also need to be able to negotiate at times to ensure a technology project proceeds in a smooth fashion. This skill comes into play when first determining the technology stack and basic architecture for an application. Sometimes, stakeholders may want a feature beyond the scope of the project or its budget. Similar negotiations happen with project managers and even the development staff, ensuring buy-in before the actual work commences.

Strong Decision-making is a Must

While the product owner or project manager typically rank higher in the hierarchy of most technology projects, a software architect still needs to possess strong decision-making skills. This especially comes into play regarding the technology stack used on a project, i.e. programming language, database, virtualization platform, etc. A strong-minded and confident approach definitely helps to formulate a robust architecture for a software application.

Collaboration is Vital in Today’s Technology World

It stands to reason any software architect working at a company with a DevOps organizational structure knows how to collaborate with their coworkers. Many enterprises also use architectural teams to define system architectures as a group. In this latter case, being able to share ideas and concepts with other like-minded professionals – in an ego-free fashion – helps ensure the best possible applications are built for the organization. Richards feels a mediator role helps when architectures are defined using a team instead of an individual architect.

In any case, it is obvious the best software architects possess a variety of skills that go beyond writing great code. Consider developing these abilities in your own work to take your software development career to a higher level.

Thanks for reading the Betica Blog; check back soon for additional news and insights from the constantly changing software development world.

Barman and repmgr – Essential Tools for PostgreSQL

If your company’s software engineers are veterans with PostgreSQL, chances are pretty good they are also familiar with the utilities, Barman and repmgr. Barman handles the management of the backup and recovery process for a Postgres instance. While repmgr, as hinted at by its name, performs a similar role with replication – in fact repmgr also offers a measure of integration with Barman.

Let’s take a closer look at both tools to see if they make sense as part of your PostgreSQL implementation. If your team is considering Postgres as a cheaper alternative to Oracle, perhaps this additional information helps make your decision easier. Good luck!

Barman – the PostgreSQL Choice for Disaster Recovery

Developed by the well-known purveyor of Postgres support, training, and development, 2ndQuadrant, Barman is a worthy open source option for organizations needing a tool to handle backups and restores for PostgreSQL. It also plays an important role in any company’s disaster recovery process. Barman helps ensure databases are back online as quickly as possible – a vital factor in achieving business continuity.

In fact, Barman focuses its functionality on disaster recovery scenarios. It supports the remote and hot backups of multiple database servers, while helping DBAs or other network personnel get everything up and running again. The tool also provides remote management capabilities for multiple servers, including ssh support.

Other features include the local storage of metadata, PITR (Point-In-Time-Recovery), file compression, retention policies, incremental backups, tar integration, and more. In short, Barman is a fully functional backup and recovery solution for Postgres. Since it is written in Python, companies with developers skilled in that language can make modifications as needed.

Version 2.1 of Barman was released earlier this year. 2ndQuadrant also provides documentation as well as commercial support and consulting options. As an open source software product, a robust online community is available for advice on usage. Any company using PostgreSQL needs to explore Barman as an option for database backup and disaster recovery.

Manage PostgreSQL Replication with repmgr

Another open source Postgres utility developed by 2ndQuadrant, repmgr handles database replication across multiple PostgreSQL servers. The latest version of repmgr – 3.3.1 – was released in March of 2017, supporting Postgres versions 9.3 and later. It leverages streaming replication and the PostgreSQL 9 Hot Standby feature to ensure superior performance in high scalability and availability environments as well as ease of administration.

One of the unsurprising features of repmgr, considering the developer, is its seamless integration with Barman. You are able to make clones from a Barman archive, instead of accessing a live server. This helps prevent a performance hit on a production server.  If live streaming replication gets interrupted, an archive can be easily used in a pinch.

As with Barman, 2ndQuadrant also provides commercial-level support and consulting options with repmgr. When used together, both tools make it easier for companies to build an industry-leading relational database solution at a fraction of the cost of going with Oracle. It is yet another example of the benefits of open source software.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the wide world of software development. As always, thanks for reading!

News from the World of Software Development – May 2017

Welcome to this month’s collection of a few interesting software development news stories from the last few weeks. If you want to check out April’s news digest, simply click on the following link. Hopefully, the content within this May digest offers a measure of insight for your software engineering activities. Good luck!

Agile making inroads in Government Software Development

Nearing its second decade of use, Agile is finally seeing wide adoption in software development at government agencies. Doug Robinson, the executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) in the United States reported that 81 percent of state CIOs plan on increasing the usage of Agile and other iterative development methodologies at their shops. News about this Agile implementation growth appeared this week at CRN.

“We’re seeing a lot of excitement in the CIO world to be able to deliver projects on time and within budget using some type of agile methodology,” said Robinson. As government entities tend to be slow to embrace new technology methodologies, this growth in adoption is another obvious sign of the continued maturity of Agile.

Small Teams write more Secure Code

Teams with a small number of developers produce more secure applications compared to groups with more than 20 employees. That is one of the main conclusions from the recently released 2017 CRASH Report, published by CAST Software. As applications grow in size and complexity, they simply become too difficult to manage.

A chief scientist at CAST Software, Bill Curtis, commented on the survey’s findings. “Applications have gotten so big and complex that no single team can understand it all. It might have five or six languages, multiple databases, CRM systems, and you can’t understand all the interactions. That leaves teams making assumptions that in many cases are wrong,” said Curtis.

Shops wanting to write more secure code need to invest in the relevant training for their developers, while giving them the tools for performing both static and dynamic testing. Additionally, involving a third-party team in the final vetting of an application’s security offers a valuable second opinion before the code is deployed to production.

Microsoft switches to Git for Windows Code Source Control

Considering Microsoft’s investment in its own source control systems, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the tech giant is migrating all the source code for its Windows operating system to the popular open source tool, Git. News about this move appeared this week in Ars Technica.

The reasoning behind this shift lies within Microsoft’s OneCore project which is aimed at simplifying the Windows codebase. Their previous source control solution for Windows, SourceDepot, was straining to handle the massive amount of source code involved, which includes 3.5 million files.

Redmond chose Git because of developer familiarity as well as its open source nature. The basic Git application needed to be updated to seamlessly handle the Windows source code. Microsoft created a fork in the Git code for this purpose and is talking with the other industry giants who use the app – Google and Facebook – about combining their efforts in the future.

Make a visit to the Betica Blog part of your daily routine before firing up your IDE in the morning. As always, thanks for reading!