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The content analysis yielded key architectural elements and evolution elements in the research data, and these results fed into a modeling phase in which I constructed a (partial) evolution model using our approach.

The content analysis is explained in detail in section 5. Finally, the conclusions of the case study are discussed in sections 5. I should note that the final case study report (on which this dissertation chapter is based) was reviewed by Costco, which requested that I remove or edit certain passages containing information that they deemed to be confidential or sensitive.

For example, the company requested that I remove all references to specific vendors associated with the company. All of these changes were fairly minor and did not, in my judgment, materially influence the presentation of the overall findings of the case study. Over the years, Costco has accumulated a patchwork of legacy software systems. A few years ago, the company embarked on an extensive and prolonged modernization effort to revamp many of its key software systems, which were growing archaic. A few of these systems were simply rebuilt in modern languages with modern engineering techniques, but for the most part, the company has transitioned from its tradition of homegrown software to a posture of buying off-the-shelf software whenever possible. As a result of this far-reaching modernization effort, architecture-level evolution of software systems is now pervasive there. The contemporaneous overhaul of so many core systems has posed significant integration and communication challenges. These factors made the company an appealing candidate for a case study on architecture evolution. The architecture group underwent a significant reorganization several years ago, at the beginning of the modernization effort just described. This made it difficult to understand the dependencies among systems and to discount essay writing service diagnose integration problems, so a central enterprise architecture group was established to define and maintain enterprise standards and to manage and harmonize architectural practices across the organization.

In figure 10, I have diagrammed my understanding of the current state of the architecture organization, based on the interviews I conducted. At the top of the architecture organization are four enterprise architects (EAs). The EAs are together responsible for defining strategy and making policies that affect the organization as a whole. One of the ways they do this is by leading the Enterprise Architecture Review Board, which must approve major architectural decisions to ensure that they are in conformance with corporate strategy and practices. These domain architects discount essay writing service are also doing enterprise architecture, in the sense that they also set standards and provide guidance that is applicable to the organization as a whole. To avoid this, centers of excellence (CoEs) were established as a way of keeping the work of the domain architects grounded in reality. Thus, the business architect leads a business architecture CoE, an application architect leads an application architecture CoE, and so on. The CoEs are led by the domain architects, but they are staffed by engineers and other personnel who have hands-on roles in building, maintaining, or managing systems. For example, the business architecture CoE, which is led by the business architect, is staffed by a business process analyst, a data steward, a business analyst, a service engineer, and a couple of product analysts.

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Together, the four EAs and the discount essay writing service domain architects form the enterprise architecture side of the architecture organization, support by these CoEs.

The other side of the architecture organization is the solution architects, who are responsible for specific projects. A discount essay writing service solution architect is usually involved with a few projects at a time. It is the solution architect who actually creates the architectural designs for individual projects, in accordance with the practices approved by the enterprise architecture group, and with guidance from domain architects with relevant expertise. The solution architect gathers project requirements, defines the high-level design for a project (which will be validated by the enterprise architecture review board), hands it off to a lead developer for lower-level design, and oversees architectural matters as the solution is implemented and released. The EAs provide leadership and define strategies and policies that affect the entire organization, the domain architects work with their CoEs to define practices and provide guidance within their respective domains, and the solution architects work in support of individual projects. I gathered two types of data: interview data and written architectural documentation. During my visit to Costco, I interviewed six participants in eight interview sessions. Some participants were interviewed more than once, and also in some interview sessions multiple participants were present. This is in contrast to a structured interview, in which every question is entirely scripted and the interviewer is strongly constrained, or an unstructured interview, in which the interviewer is completely unconstrained and the interview has no set format. Unstructured interviews are most useful for exploring a topic about which very little is known, while structured interviews are most useful when the focus of the research is on directly comparing responses across participants (as is generally the case in quantitative interview research). The interview protocol is reproduced in appendix A.

Interview durations ranged from 17 minutes to 56 minutes. First, it provides the researcher with an accurate and complete record of each interview, so that the researcher is not forced to rely solely on his own notes and memories, discount essay writing service which are inevitably inaccurate and incomplete. Second, it frees the interviewer from taking excessive, meticulously complete notes during the course of the interview, which can encumber the flow of dialogue. Fourth, it enables transcription and content analysis of interview responses.

I fully transcribed all eight of the interviews I conducted. Transcription allows much easier reference to the contents of an interview, permitting the researcher to peruse the collected interview data freely without the need to listen to long stretches of audio to find the desired information. In the social sciences literature, there is a great deal of discussion on methods and best practices for transcription of research interviews. One of the most basic decisions that a researcher must make when transcribing interviews is whether to try to capture all the nuances and quirks of verbal communication, such as pauses, pronunciation idiosyncrasies, stutters, false starts, and nonverbal utterances, or whether to instead adapt the material to the written form, eliding stutters and verbal tics, standardizing grammar, and adding punctuation.

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