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  • 1. The ATAM A Comprehensive method for Architecture Evaluation
  • 2. Introduction • We will introduce the Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM), a thorough and comprehensive way to evaluate a software architecture. • The ATAM is so named because ▫ it reveals how well an architecture satisfies particular quality goals ▫ it provides insight into how quality goals interact— that is, how they trade off.
  • 3. Introduction • Evaluating an architecture for a large system is a complicated undertaking. • First, a large system will have a comparably large architecture that will be difficult to understand in a limited amount of time. • Second, according to the Architecture Business Cycle (ABC), a computer system is intended to support business goals and the evaluation will need to make connections between those goals and the technical decisions. • Finally, a large system usually has multiple stakeholders and acquiring their different perspectives in a limited amount of time requires careful management of an evaluation process. • Managing the limited time for an architecture evaluation is a central problem.
  • 4. Introduction • The ATAM is designed to ▫ elicit the business goals for the system as well as for the architecture ▫ those goals and stakeholder participation to focus the attention of the evaluators on the portion of the architecture that is central to the achievement of the goals. • This chapter will introduce the steps of the ATAM and discuss them in light of their intended purpose.
  • 5. Participants in the ATAM • The ATAM requires the participation of three groups • The evaluation team ▫ This group is external to the project. ▫ They need to be recognized as competent, unbiased outsiders with no hidden agendas or axes to grind. • Project decision makers ▫ These people are empowered to speak for the development project or have the authority to mandate changes to it • Architecture stakeholders ▫ Their job during an evaluation is to articulate the specific quality attribute goals that the architecture should meet in order for the system to be considered a success.
  • 6. ATAM Evaluation Team Roles Role Responsibilities Desirable characteristics Team Leader Sets up the evaluation; coordinates with Well-organized, with managerial skills; client, making sure client's needs are good at interacting with client; able to met; establishes evaluation contract; meet deadlines forms evaluation team; sees that final report is produced and delivered (although the writing may be delegated) Evaluation Leader Runs evaluation; facilitates elicitation of Comfortable in front of audience; scenarios; administers scenario excellent facilitation skills; good selection/prioritization process; facilitates understanding of architectural issues; evaluation of scenarios against practiced in architecture evaluations; architecture; facilitates onsite analysis able to tell when protracted discussion is leading to a valuable discovery or when it is pointless and should be re- directed
  • 7. ATAM Evaluation Team Roles Role Responsibilities Desirable characteristics Scenario Scribe Writes scenarios on flipchart or whiteboard Good handwriting; stickler about during scenario elicitation; captures agreed- not moving on before an idea on wording of each scenario, halting (scenario) is captured; can discussion until exact wording is captured absorb and distill the essence of technical discussions Proceedings Scribe Captures proceedings in electronic form on Good, fast typist; well organized laptop or workstation, raw scenarios, issue(s) for rapid recall of information; that motivate each scenario (often lost in the good understanding of wording of the scenario itself), and resolution architectural issues; able to of each scenario when applied to assimilate technical issues architecture(s); also generates a printed list quickly; unafraid to interrupt the of adopted scenarios for handout to all flow of discussion (at opportune participants times) to test understanding of an issue so that appropriate information is captured Timekeeper Helps evaluation leader stay on schedule; Willing to interrupt discussion to helps control amount of time devoted to each call time scenario during the evaluation phase
  • 8. ATAM Evaluation Team Roles Role Responsibilities Desirable characteristics Process Observer Keeps notes on how evaluation process could Thoughtful observer; be improved or deviated from; usually keeps knowledgeable in the evaluation silent but may make discreet process-based process; should have previous suggestions to the evaluation leader during experience in the architecture the evaluation; after evaluation, reports on evaluation method how the process went and lessons learned for future improvement; also responsible for reporting experience to architecture evaluation team at large Process Enforcer Helps evaluation leader remember and carry Fluent in the steps of the out the steps of the evaluation method method, and willing and able to provide discreet guidance to the evaluation leader Questioner Raise issues of architectural interest that Good architectural insights; good stakeholders may not have thought of insights into needs of stakeholders; experience with systems in similar domains; unafraid to bring up contentious issues and pursue them; familiar with attributes of concern
  • 9. Outputs of the ATAM • An ATAM-based evaluation will produce at least the following outputs ▫ A concise presentation of the architecture. ▫ Articulation of the business goals. ▫ Quality requirements in terms of a collection of scenarios. ▫ Mapping of architectural decisions to quality requirements. ▫ A set of identified sensitivity and tradeoff points. ▫ A set of risks and nonrisks. ▫ A set of risk themes.
  • 10. Outputs of the ATAM • The outputs are used to build a final written report that recaps the method, summarizes the proceedings, captures the scenarios and their analysis, and catalogs the findings. • There are intangible results ▫ a palpable sense of community on the part of the stakeholders ▫ open communication channels between the architect and the stakeholders ▫ a better overall understanding on the part of all participants of the architecture ▫ its strengths and weaknesses
  • 11. ATAM Phases and Their Characteristics Phase Activity Participants Typical Duration 0 Partnership and Evaluation team leadership and Proceeds preparation key project decision makers informally as required, perhaps over a few weeks 1 Evaluation Evaluation team and project 1 day followed by decision makers a hiatus of 2 to 3 weeks 2 Evaluation Evaluation team, project decision 2 days (continued) makers, and stakeholders 3 Follow-up Evaluation team and evaluation 1 week client
  • 12. Phases of the ATAM • Activities in an ATAM-based evaluation are spread out over four phases ▫ phase 0, "Partnership and Preparation," the evaluation team leadership and the key project decision makers informally meet to work out the details of the exercise. ▫ phase 1, the evaluation team meets with the project decision makers to begin information gathering and analysis. ▫ phase 2, the architecture's stakeholders join the proceeding and analysis continues. ▫ phase 3 is follow-up in which the evaluation team produces and delivers a written final report.
  • 13. Steps of the evaluation phases • Step 1—Present the ATAM • Step 2—Present Business Drivers • Step 3—Present Architecture • Step 4—Identify Architectural Approaches • Step 5—Generate Quality Attribute Utility Tree • Step 6—Analyze Architectural Approaches • Hiatus and Start of Phase 2 • Step 7—Brainstorm and Prioritize Scenarios • Step 8—Analyze Architectural Approaches • Step 9—Present Results
  • 14. 1. Present the ATAM • The evaluation leader present the ATAM • The leader will describe the ATAM steps in brief and the outputs of the evaluation. • Explain the process that everyone will be following, to answer questions, and to set the context and expectations for the remainder of the activities.
  • 15. 2. Present Business Drivers • Let everyone to understand the context for the system and the primary business drivers motivating its development • A project decision maker (project manager) presents a system overview from a business perspective ▫ The system's most important functions ▫ Any relevant technical, managerial, economic, or political constraints ▫ The business goals and context as they relate to the project ▫ The major stakeholders ▫ The architectural drivers (that is, the major quality attribute goals that shape the architecture)
  • 16. 3. Present Architecture • The lead architect (or architecture team) makes a presentation describing the architecture at an appropriate level of detail • Presentation covers technical constraints such as ▫ Operating system ▫ Hardware ▫ Middleware prescribed for use ▫ Other systems with which the system must interact. • Most important, the architect describes the architectural approaches used to meet the requirements. • It should convey the essence of the architecture and not stray into ancillary areas or delve too deeply into the details of just a few aspects. • During presentation, The evaluation team asks for clarification based on their phase 0 examination of the architecture documentation and their knowledge of the business drivers from the previous step
  • 17. Example of a template for the architecture presentation • Architecture Presentation (~20 slides; 60 minutes) • Driving architectural requirements, the measurable quantities you associate with these requirements, and any existing standards/models/approaches for meeting these (2–3 slides) • Important Architectural Information (4–8 slides) ▫ Context diagram—the system within the context in which it will exist. Humans or other systems with which the system will interact. ▫ Module or layer view—the modules (which may be subsystems or layers) that describe the system's decomposition of functionality, along with the objects, procedures, functions that populate these, and the relations among them (e.g., procedure call, method invoca-tion, callback, containment). ▫ Component-and-connector view—processes, threads along with the synchronization, data flow, and events that connect them. ▫ Deployment view—CPUs, storage, external devices/sensors along with the networks and communication devices that connect them.Also shown are the processes that execute on the various processors.
  • 18. Example of a template for the architecture presentation • Architectural approaches, patterns, or tactics employed, including what quality attributes they address and a description of how the approaches address those attributes (3–6 slides) ▫ Use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products and how they are chosen/integrated (1–2 slides) ▫ Trace of 1 to 3 of the most important use case scenarios. If possible, include the runtime resources consumed for each scenario (1–3 slides) ▫ Trace of 1 to 3 of the most important change scenarios. If possible, describe the change impact (estimated size/difficulty of the change) in terms of the changed modules or interfaces (1–3 slides) ▫ Architectural issues/risks with respect to meeting the driving architectural requirements (2–3 slides) ▫ Glossary (1 slide)
  • 19. 4. Identify Architectural Approaches • By now, the evaluation team will have a good idea of what patterns and approaches the architect used in designing the system. • In this short step, the evaluation team simply catalogs the patterns and approaches that are evident. • The list is publicly captured by the scribe for all to see and will serve as the basis for later analysis.
  • 20. 5. Generate Quality Attribute Utility Tree • An architecture is either suitable or unsuitable with respect to its ability to deliver particular quality attributes to the system(s) built from it. • In this step, the quality attribute goals are articulated in detail via a mechanism known as the utility tree • the evaluation team works with the project decision makers to identify, prioritize, and refine the system's most important quality attribute goals, which are expressed as scenarios • The utility tree serves to make the requirements concrete, forcing the architect and customer representatives to define precisely the relevant quality requirements that they were working to provide.
  • 21. 5. Generate Quality Attribute Utility Tree • A utility tree begins with utility as the root node. • Second level is set of quality attributes, business drivers presentation in step 2 make up the initial set of this second level. • Third level, under each quality attribute are specific quality attribute refinements ▫ For example, performance might be decomposed into "data latency" and "transaction throughput” • Fourth level, Scenarios : ATAM scenarios consist of three parts: ▫ stimulus (what condition arrives at a system, who generated it, and what system artifact it stimulates) ▫ environment (what is going on at the time) ▫ response (system's reaction to the stimulus expressed in a measurable way).
  • 22. 5. Generate Quality Attribute Utility Tree • Some scenarios might express more than one quality attribute and so might appear in more than one place in the tree. • The evaluation leader should guard against scenarios that try to cover too much diverse territory because they will be difficult to analyze. • A utility tree can easily contain fifty scenarios at its leaves, and there will not be time during the evaluation meeting to analyze them all. Hence, utility tree generation also includes a prioritization step.
  • 23. 5. Generate Quality Attribute Utility Tree : prioritization step • By consensus, the decision makers assign a priority to each scenario. • This prioritization may be on a 0 to 10 scale or use relative rankings such as high, medium, and low. • After that, scenarios are prioritized a second time, by ask the architect to rank each scenario by how difficult he or she believes it will be for the architecture to satisfy. • Now each scenario has an associated ordered pair: (H,H), (H,M), (H,L), and so forth. The scenarios that are the most important and the most difficult will be the ones where precious analysis time will be spent and the remainder will be kept as part of the record.
  • 24. 5. Example in Tabular Form of the Utility Tree Quality Attribute Attribute Refinement Scenarios Performance Transaction A user updates a patient's account in response to a change-of- response time address notification while the system is under peak load, and the transaction completes in less than 0.75 second. (H,M) A user updates a patient's account in response to a change-of- address notification while the system is under twice the current peak load, and the transaction completes in less than 4 seconds. (L,M) Throughput At peak load, the system is able to complete 150 normalized transactions per second. (M,M) Generating reports No scenarios suggested. Usability Proficiency training A new hire with two or more years experience in the business becomes proficient in Nightingale's core functions in less than 1 week. (M,L) A user in a particular context asks for help, and the system provides help for that context. (H,L) Normal operations A hospital payment officer initiates a payment plan for a patient while interacting with that patient and completes the process without the system introducing delays. (M,M)
  • 25. 6. Analyze Architectural Approaches • In fact, the analysis steps of the ATAM consist of choosing one scenario at a time and seeing how well the architecture responds to, or achieves, it. • The architect is asked to explain how the architecture supports each scenario. • Questioners probe for the architectural approaches that the architect used to carry out the scenario. • The team documents the relevant architectural decisions and identifies and catalogs their risks, nonrisks, sensitivity points, and tradeoffs. • The key of analysis is to elicit sufficient architectural information to establish some link between the architectural decisions that have been made and the quality attribute requirements that need to be satisfied.
  • 26. 6. Analyze Architectural Approaches • For example of analysis • The number of simultaneous database clients will affect the number of transactions that a database can process per second. • Thus, the assignment of clients to the server is a sensitivity point with respect to the response as measured in transactions per second. • Some assignments will result in unacceptable values of this response—these are risks.
  • 27. Example of architectural approach analysis
  • 28. Hiatus and Start of Phase 2 • At this point, phase 1 is concluded. • The evaluation team retreats to summarize what it has learned and interacts informally (usually by phone) with the architect during a hiatus of a week or two. • More scenarios might be analyzed during this period, if desired, or questions of clarification can be resolved. • When the project's decision makers are ready to resume and the stakeholders are assembled, phase 2 commences. • This phase is enacted by an expanded list of participants with additional stakeholders attending. ▫ First, step 1 is repeated so that the stakeholders understand the method and the role they are to play. ▫ Then the evaluation leader recaps the results of steps 2 through 6, and shares the current list of risks, nonrisks, sensitivity points, and tradeoff points. ▫ Now the stake holders are up to speed with the evaluation results so far, and the remaining three steps can be carried out.
  • 29. 7. Brainstorm and Prioritize Scenarios • The evaluation team asks the stakeholders to brainstorm scenarios that are operationally meaningful with respect to the stakeholders' individual roles. • Stakeholders are free to put them into the brainstorm pool, which gives them the opportunity to revisit scenarios from step 5 and step 6 that they might feel received too little attention. • Once the scenarios have been collected, they must be prioritized. • Each stakeholder is allocated a number of votes equal to 30% of the number of collected scenarios. • Each stakeholder casts his or her votes publicly. • The evaluation leader orders the scenarios by vote total and looks for a sharp drop-off in the number of votes
  • 30. 7. Brainstorm and Prioritize Scenarios • The prioritized list of brainstormed scenarios is compared with those from the utility tree exercise. • If they agree, it indicates good alignment between what the architect had in mind and what the stakeholders actually wanted. • If additional driving scenarios are discovered, this may itself be a risk showing that there was some disagreement in goals between the stakeholders and the architect.
  • 31. 8. Analyze Architectural Approaches • The architect explains how relevant architectural decisions contribute to realizing each scenario from step 7. • Ideally this activity will be dominated by the architect's explanation of scenarios in terms of previously discussed architectural approaches. • In this step the evaluation team performs the same activities as in step 6, mapping the highest-ranked, newly generated scenarios onto the architectural artifacts uncovered thus far.
  • 32. 9. Present Results • Finally, the collected information from the ATAM needs to be summarized and presented once again to stakeholders. • In this presentation the evaluation leader recapitulates the steps of the ATAM and all the information collected in the steps of the method, including the business context, driving requirements, constraints, and architecture.
  • 33. 9. Present Results • Then the following outputs are presented: ▫ The architectural approaches documented ▫ The set of scenarios and their prioritization from the brainstorming ▫ The utility tree ▫ The risks discovered ▫ The nonrisks documented ▫ The sensitivity points and tradeoff points found
  • 34. 9. Present Results • The evaluation team adds value by grouping risks into risk themes, based on some common underlying concern or systemic deficiency. ▫ Ex: a group of risks about inadequate or out-of- date documentation might be grouped into a risk theme stating that documentation is given insufficient consideration. • For each risk theme, the evaluation team identifies which of the business drivers listed in step 2 are affected.
  • 35. Using the Limited Time of Evaluation Effectively • We identified limited time as one of the main problems in conducting an architectural evaluation. • ATAM show how can it solves the problem • The business goals are used as motivation for the collection of scenarios that represent the utility tree. • Scenarios are prioritized, essentially, as a bottom-up check on the top-down scenario generation of the utility tree. • Only the high-priority and difficult scenarios are analyzed. • These are the areas that will yield the most important results.
  • 36. PHASE 3: Follow-up • The tangible output of the ATAM is a final report that contains a list of risks, nonrisks, sensitivity points, and tradeoff points. • It also contains a catalog of architectural approaches used, the utility tree and brainstormed scenarios, and the record of analysis of each selected scenario. • Finally, the final report contains the set of risk themes identified by the evaluation team and an indication of which business drivers are jeopardized by each one. • Like the presentation of results, we use a boilerplate template that has many of the standard sections (such as a description of the ATAM) completed and templates for other sections ready to be filled in. • We also write some of the final report—for instance, the utility tree and step 6 analysis—during the hiatus between phases 1 and 2. • Preparation pays off; whereas it used to take about two weeks to produce a final report for an ATAM client, we can now produce a high-quality comprehensive report in about two days.
  • 37. Summary • The ATAM is a robust method for evaluating software architectures. • It works by having project decision makers and stakeholders articulate a precise list of quality attribute requirements (in the form of scenarios) and by illuminating the architectural decisions relevant to carrying out each high-priority scenario. • The decisions can be cast as risks or nonrisks to find any trouble spots in the architecture. • In addition to understanding what the ATAM is, it is also important to understand what it is not. ▫ The ATAM is not an evaluation of requirements. ▫ The ATAM is not a code evaluation. ▫ The ATAM does not include actual system testing. ▫ The ATAM is not a precise instrument, but identifies possible areas of risk within the architecture.