There are many and diverse beliefs about the answer to this question.
Some system architects regard Architecting as a subset of Systems Engineering, whereas others – particularly those from the IT world and those involved in applying systems thinking at the business level – tend to regard Architecting as providing something missing from Systems Engineering, which they see as applying only at the physical level.
The answer to the question clearly depends on how one defines Systems Engineering. In the UK, Systems Engineering has historically been considered broadly, applying at all levels and embracing both synthetic and analytical methods. Hence, we advocate the view that Architecting is best regarded as a subset of a broadly drawn Systems Engineering.
What is architectural structure?
A typical system architecture will not usually be described by a single type of structure – it is likely to include logical (functional) structure, behaviour (process) structure, physical structure and potentially other types of structure (eg financial or commercial). What needs to be included depends on what is judged to be fundamental, as discussed earlier.
Logical (functional) description Illustrative architecture elements Behaviour (process) description Physical (layout) description System architecting is the process of creating a system architectureWhat are the different types of architecture?
There are many types of architecture in use, each of which may be focussed on a particular topic of interest, or on a specific purpose, or on a specific set of systems.Some examples of architectures with a focus on specific topics are: Operational; Programme; Security; Information. Some examples of architectures with specific purposes are: Integration; Problem Domain Definition; Design-Controlling.
Some examples of architectures addressing a specific set of systems are: System of Systems; Product Family; Enterprise. Some practitioners regard each type of architecture as a viewpoint on to a single underlying architecture (ie: a single system could have a security architecture and an information architecture, etc) – more on this in the section on Architecture Frameworks (see Page 5).
Replaced/Superseded by document(s)
Architecture is a popular and evidently useful concept, with many practical benefits (see Page 4) - unfortunately for the novice and the unwary there are many different interpretations in widespread use.