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Complete Roadmap to Learn System Design

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Have you ever imagined the websites and applications with which we’re interacting every day were nothing less than a blank screen just like paper? Consider an abandoned land that will be equipped with a 10-story building, now that’s going to require Planning, Architecture, and Execution. Likewise, when we talk about any OTT platform like Netflix or Disney Hotstar, they also have architecture and planning for their build structure and functionality. This whole stuff must sound interesting to you but wait, the path is not as simple as you’re imagining.


So, to help you with this, we have come up with this article to take you toward the roadmap for system design.

System Design

The process of defining the interfaces, modules, components, and data for any system to specify the detailed requirements can be termed a system design. It is meant to satisfy a certain set of needs and requirements within any business via the engineering of coherent and smooth-running systems. In other words, it implies a very systematic approach in terms of designing the system right from architecture, to the required dedicated hardware and software and observing how it is going to travel and transforms throughout the system.

How did it come into existence? 

The existence of system design can be observed right before World War II, during the war the engineers were trying to solve the complexity to handle the communication issues. They were looking out for some stable and précised workflow in a smooth way. Their major area of concern was some of the fields that required stability like operations, research, information theory, and computer science and that’s how the concept of system design came into talk.

What are the Methods of System Design?

There are four major methods to characterize system design:

1. Logical Design

The abstraction representation of the data flow that includes both input and output of the system can be explained within the logical design. The logical design explains four major units, these are:

  • Source
  • Destination
  • Data Stores
  • Flow of Data

The concept of designing the logical unit in a system is to prepare while keeping the level of detail that virtually explains the flow of information.

2. Physical Design

It’s the process of the actual input and output of the system and its major criteria is to look after how the data is being manipulated i.e. verification, processing, and displaying as a result. Besides this, it also revolves around the interface design, process design, and data design of the user.

3. Architectural Design

The discipline that majorly focuses on meeting the requirements and works towards the structure and behavior of the system. It explains the relationship between different modules of the system development process.

4. Detailed Design

It helps in preparing the raw print of a system that helps in enabling the goals of the dedicated system design. It also involves some of the following modules such as project planning, control, user involvement, and defining of the detailed sub-system.

Why Choose System Design?

Top apps with which we interact so often like Instagram, Twitter, and so on. Thus, they are a highly scalable platform and handle millions and billions of traffic every single day. Thus, they are required to design such a system to tackle that amount of data and traffic with zero failure and that’s where system design comes in. So, your task as a developer will be to understand the basic concepts of system design and also to understand how and where to apply them in real applications and systems. 

During your initial career phase, you will become start becoming proficient while learning system design and that will give you an opportunity to start applying design principles in your projects. As you’ll move upward, you will start working on architecture, infrastructure, algorithms, and data within the system design. Besides this, the SDLC also carries some major modules such as data collection, problem, formulation, model creation, implementation of models, and enhancement of models.

What are the Skills Required for System Design?

There is a handful of skills required to become a successful system design engineer. Some of them are as follows:

Tools and Techniques: You will be required to learn a vast variety of domains that including system designing. Some of the most frequently used tools are Sketch2react, TeamCenter, Adobe XD, etc.

Technical Skills: Some of the fundamental skill sets that are required in system design are as follows:

  • Asset management
  • Application Development (know-how)
  • Basic understanding of the network within the system
  • Software development
  • Documentation skill
  • Analytical and Decision making
  • Clear Concepts in Mathematics

Fundamental Skills: Apart from the above skillsets, there are certain other things that you must carry while working as a system design engineer. Some of them are:

  • One must possess the capability to handle the complexity and apply the methods to real-life scenarios so that dedicated goals can be achieved.
  • It is also necessary to have a clear vision of what needs to be achieved and provide solutions to meet the client’s requirements.
  • To move upward in this field, just like any other field, it is required to have regular and rigorous practice and look out for the latest trends and technologies.

The Required Concept in System Design

There is a handful of concepts that are required to work in the system design, the lists are as follows:

System Design –> System + Design

Where the system indicates the assembly of small and different units (in terms of requirements), whereas, Design indicates the handling of those entities (of any volume) in an effective way.

In addition, the concepts that indulge in system design are:

  • Computer Networking
  • Distributed System
  • Parallel Computing

Thus, these are the three major concepts that cover the entire process that includes:

  • Implementation of APIs as per requirement
  • Designing of database
  • Selection of storage system
  • Selection of caching module, etc.

 Let’s take a thorough walk toward the system design path in this roadmap article. We can break down this into three small chunks for better understanding:

Unit I

The Foundation: It all starts with the basic introduction and fundamentals of this model to learn the system design and for that, you are required to learn some of the following key elements to get a strong grip on it:

  • Scalable and Maintainable Application (this section will cover how to tackle hardware/software faults, maintain performance, and handle complexity)
  • Data Models and Query Languages (query language for data, graph-like data models, foundation of data logs)
  • Storage and Retrieval (data structure, hash indexes, data warehousing)
  • Encoding and Evolution (JSON, XML and binary variants, data flow modes)

Unit II

Distributed Data: By this time, you must have understood the basics of a system design, now is the time to get into its skin and explore some advanced-level details in system design.

  • Replication (synchronous vs asynchronous, use cases of multi-leader replication, detecting concurrent writes)
  • Partitioning (replication and partitioning, secondary index and partitioning, rebalancing partitions, parallel query execution)
  • Transactions (single and multi-object operations, preventing lost updates, serializability, two-phase locking (2PL), serializable snapshot isolation (SSI), actual serial execution)
  • Distributed systems complexity (faults and partition failure, unreliable networks, monotonic vs time-of-day clocks, byzantine faults, system model)
  • Consistency and Consensus (Linearizability, ordering guarantees, distributed transaction and consensus, fault-tolerant)

Unit III

Derived Data: The very last phase consists of the two major elements that are also frequently asked during an interview:

  • Batch Processing (processing with UNIX tools, simple log analysis, map-side joins, the output of batch workflow, high-level API, and languages)
  • Stream Processing (transmitting event streams, messaging systems, database and streams, event sourcing, processing streams, fault tolerance)

How to Prepare for System Design?

There are many resources out there all over the Internet but a handful will make a smooth impact and will help you in learning right from its base. Some of the helpful resources are as follows:

Interview Preparation For System Design

Preparing for system design can be a tough task if not have sufficient adequate resources, here are a few resources that can be utilized to prepare for an interview to get started:

For FREE System Design Tutorial, Refer to – System Design – Tutorial

Project Ideas to Work on For System Design

Some of the most exciting project ideas to brush up on your development skills are as follows:

  • Teleconference System
  • Restaurant Management Information System
  • Crime Tracking Information System
  • Quality Assurance Monitoring System
  • Network Security and Firewalls in Banking Systems
  • Computerized Invoicing System

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Last Updated : 04 Aug, 2023
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