Over the years as I have taught, designed and implemented software architecture the question I have been asked over and over again has been:
What is Architecture?
According to the Arsanjani view of Architecture :-), the Architecture of a system is the holistic view of the relative configuration of a set of static and dynamic elements that include what I call the 6C's :
Components -- what are the structural building blocks of a solution, or a style of architecture, of the elements that can be combined to produce a larger structure
Connectors -- The components need to connect with one another, whether statically (as in an Entity-relationship kind of relation) or dynamically, as in a composition in an SOA, where you may have orchestration or choreography.
Constraints -- The constraints on the connectors and/or components that provide rules of engagement of what is permissible and what is not.
Composition -- How to compose or what are the valid compositions of components
Context -- the context of invocation of a component is critical to the designation of how that component will behave
Containers -- the components must live in some runtime container that will provide uniform life-cycle management capabilities for them
Traditionally, the first three have been the main focus in universities and textbooks. But the latter three that I have added seem to be essential to a more complete depiction of the operational or actionable perspective on software architecture.
Let me know what you think.