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Fundamentals of Software Architecture by Neal Ford, Mark Richards

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Chapter 20. Analyzing Architecture Risk

Every architecture has risk associated with it, whether it be risk involving availability, scalability, data integrity, and so on. Analyzing architecture risk is one of the key activities of architecture. By continually analyzing risk, the architect can address deficiencies within the architecture and take corrective action to mitigate the risk. In this chapter we introduce some of the key techniques and practices for qualifying risk, creating risk assessments, and identifying risk through an activity called risk storming.

Risk Matrix

The first issue that arrises when assessing architecture risk is determining whether the risk should be classified as low, medium, or high risk. Too much subjectiveness usually enters into this classification, creating confusion about what parts of the architecture are really high risk vs. medium risk. Fortunately there a risk matrix architects can leverage to help reduce the level of subjectiveness and help quality the risk associated with a particular area of the architecture.

The architecture risk matrix (illustrated in Figure 20-1) uses two dimensions to qualify risk - the first is the overall impact of the risk, and the second is the likelihood of that risk occurring. Each of these dimensions has a low (1), medium (2), and high (3) rating. These numbers are multiplied together within each grid of the matrix, providing an objective numerical number representing that risk. Numbers 1 and 2 are considered ...

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