The Institute - December 2019 - 10


"At startups, you'll get your hands dirty the curriculum focuses ENGINEERS FOR
of user interfaces and backand be the one to fix the program when more on documentation STARTUPS ARE
end systems is essential,
there are bugs," Devadiga says. "The than application design, LIKELY TO PLAY
Devadiga says.
company has limited cash, so you can't and its low-level interfaces A SIGNIFICANT
While students are taught in
take an entire year to learn what to do." and code structure to write ROLE IN DEFINbroad strokes about how such
Developing software in a startup envi- clean, reusable, and scalable ING THE SYSTEM
architectures work, Devadiga
ronment poses unique engineering code to build the architec- ARCHITECTURE.
says, there's not much focus
challenges. Because startups need to bring tural components.
on the skills needed to write
their products to market quickly, appliStudents are taught formal testing
clean, usable, scalable code to build the
cations are built iteratively, with rapid methods such as static analysis, which
components they require.
prototyping. The timing of the product checks code without actually running
"When you join a startup," he says,
release is crucial because it has a direct it. This helps them understand how to "there's a lot of emphasis on the design
impact on acquiring customers and affects test software programs, but it doesn't
of the application, reusability, and clean
the bottom line. Significant delays can put address the testing of distributed sys- code and the ability to conduct and
a company out of business. Although time tems, web services, and infrastructure
undergo code reviews, as well as the
to market is also vital for large companies, resiliency. Examination of these types
ability to think of and build systems that
their software releases are typically for
established products, and if they run late,
such companies usually have the money
to survive.
Software architecture is important to
both large and small companies. But engineers for startups are more likely to play
a significant role in defining the system
architecture. At large organizations, most
software engineers don't have much say
in project architectures, Devadiga says.
ngineers often misunderWhen it comes to building, deploying,
stand what it takes to launch
a successful startup, accordand running applications, companies today
ing to IEEE Fellow Chenyang
rely heavily on cloud computing resources
Xu, who has been advissuch as Amazon Web Services and Google
Cloud. This is especially true for start- ing entrepreneurs and investors for
ups, as maintaining an in-house server 20 years. Xu was general manager of
infrastructure is not feasible or scalable, the Siemens Technology-to-Business
Devadiga says. Startups tend to rely heav- Center, in Berkeley, Calif., where he
ily on external software-as-a-service and led a team of venture technologists
infrastructure platforms to reduce the who invested in and partnered with
more than 50 promising disruptiveamount of infrastructure they need.
technology startups.
He helped found the Silicon Valley
Devadiga outlines several gaps in today's Future Academy, a consulting comsoftware engineering curriculum. For pany in Palo Alto, Calif., that teaches
example, a significant amount of time startups about design, venture capital,
is spent studying and practicing strict and cutting-edge technologies includadherence to software engineering pro- ing artificial intelligence and big data.
cesses. But organizations, especially He's now a partner at the Corporate
technology-focused ones, use simpli- Innovators Huddle, in Menlo Park,
fied, agile software processes. On the Calif., which provides a forum to help
topic of software architecture, he says, large companies be more innovative

venture advisor Chenyang Xu




DEC 2019



The Institute - December 2019

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