Context Telemedicine, the provision of health care at a distance, is arguably an effective way of increasing access to, reducing cost of, and improving quality of care. However, the deployment of telemedicine is faced with standards that are hard to use, application-specific data models, and application stove-pipes that inhibit the adoption of telemedical solutions. To which extent can a software ecosystem approach to telemedicine alleviate this? Objective In this article, we define the concept of software ecosystem architecture as the structure(s) of a software ecosystem comprising elements, relations among them, and properties of both. Our objective is to show how this concept can be used i) in the analysis of existing software ecosystems and ii) in the design of new software ecosystems. Method We performed a mixed-method study that consisted of a case study and an experiment. For i), we performed a descriptive, revelatory case study of the Danish telemedicine ecosystem and for ii), we experimentally designed, implemented, and evaluated the architecture of 4S. Results We contribute in three areas. First, we define the software ecosystem architecture concept that captures organization, business, and software aspects of software ecosystems. Secondly, we apply this concept in our case study and demonstrate that it is a viable concept for software ecosystem analysis. Finally, based on our experiments, we discuss the practice of software engineering for software ecosystems drawn from experience in creating and evolving the 4S telemedicine ecosystem. Conclusion The concept of software ecosystem architecture can be used analytically and constructively in respectively the analysis and design of software ecosystems.
Information and Software Technology, 2014, Vol 56, Issue 11, p. 1476-1492