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The Value of Software System Architecture

In this article, Alan says that despite a dramatic increase in the pervasiveness and importance of software, many companies lack a fundamental understanding of the architecture underlying their code. This problem costs firms millions of dollars per year. A manager’s intuition about where to start such an effort is frequently wrong, given the perceptions of an architecture and the realities embedded in its source code are often in conflict.

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Design Rules: The Power of Modularity

In this classic book, Carliss (with Kim Clark) illustrates the means by which modularity helps innovation. She makes the case using many examples including a graphics controller, a motherboard, and a laptop computer. The book illustrates the means by which modularity in a system creates economic value and presents tools and techniques for thinking about and measuring modularity. Carliss persuasively argues that the modular design of the IBM/360 fundamentally transformed the field of computer architecture, and also transformed the structure and scale of the hardware and software industry by increasing the return on investment of R&D activities.

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More Than the Sum of Its Parts: The Impact of Modularity on the Computer Industry

Carliss (with Kim Clark) says that the “power of modularity” rescued the computer industry from a problem of nightmarish proportions and made possible remarkable levels of innovation and growth in a relatively short period of time.