by Walker Royce Chief Software Economist, IBM Rational software Innovation has become synonymous with software. It’s through software that businesses can create products, systems, and services that are increasingly “instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent.” These innovations in software are becoming the source of real value to the consumer, and for many businesses it is what sets them apart from their competition. As you think about your organization, what is the biggest challenge you are facing NOW? What is NEXT if you want to... [More]
If you’re a software developer, project manager, or business leader responsible for software design and delivery, you’re probably too busy to follow the trends in every industry where software is at the center of competitive differentiation. Naturally, because that would be just about every industry. Whether you work in the IT space, or in one of many industries where embedded software is taking systems design to new heights of innovation, the world of development and delivery is a global beehive of partners, stakeholders, and consumers. The... [More]
The 20th century manufacturing revolution simplified the way people and teams worked together toward a larger goal. But when it comes to software delivery, the odds of predicting project success is still more of an art than science. Looking for a solution -- often when the problem itself isn’t clear -- IT organizations spend way too much time and energy on internal dynamics and the activities associated with production, rather than innovation and competitive goals. Most of the time, the reason for this wasted effort is poor collaboration and... [More]
Modern systems such as electric cars, unmanned trains and airplanes, smart phones and healthcare equipment contain a growing number of electronic components and software to deliver function to the final users that was unimaginable only a few years ago. As complexity increase, design challenges increase exponentially. This complexity is the result of two major factors – the increase in scale (e,g, number of product functions, computation units, line of codes and so on) and the fact that any modern product today is in fact a cyber-physical... [More]
The telephone game Remember the party game, "telephone," that was played across the world under a variety of similar names? Someone starts off whispering a phrase in the next person's ear, who whispers it in the next person's, until, at the end, the original message is usually completely garbled. Lost in translations: Strong vodka, putrid meat Or consider this (apparently apocryphal) story about machine translation: The starting text was "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The program translated it into... [More]
The "Systems" perspective: How do we get to real innovation?
Complexity seems to be the arch enemy of product innovation. We frequently hear from our customers statements such as:
Every time I fix something in one place, I break two other things. - Software engineer
It’ll take me ages to determine the impact of swapping this part. - Mechanical engineer
I can’t tell which the version of software is designed for my PCB. - Electrical engineer
The IBM Rational team believes that product and systems... [More]
Software delivery is more a discipline of economics than a discipline of engineering, because it is a complex endeavor that is inherently non-deterministic and entrepreneurial…there is much more uncertainty.
Successful software outcomes are highly dependent on continuous negotiations, accurate predictions, value creation, innovations, diverse team collaboration, business agility, market conditions and user demand. Success is much less dependent on the quality of contracts, Gantt charts, critical path schedules, earned value measurement,... [More]
What does agility look like, and how do we measure it?
Agility is about changing rapidly and therefore a truly agile project or organization should accommodate changes more easily. Consequently, improvements in agility are best measured by gauging the cost-of-change trends in software baselines. Improvements in these change trends are best achieved when integration testing largely precedes unit testing.
A well-accepted tenet of software engineering governance states, “The later you are in the life cycle, the more expensive things are to... [More]
It’s a new era of technology , brought forth by intelligent systems and smarter products. We are building a smarter planet , by changing the way we use technology .
Governments are using intelligent systems to plan, prevent and prepare
Smart cities are digitally connected and optimized , using data from transportation systems, energy management systems, and water supply systems to plan for unexpected events, prevent strained resources and prepare for growth and congestion in the future.
For all these systems to work... [More]
Today’s high-tech savvy consumers are much more demanding of quality—even for the most cutting-edge and high-tech electronic innovations. Automobiles, medical devices, mobile phones and electronics manufacturers all face the challenge of delivering the latest innovations to market (while trying to avoid getting blasted on social media because of poor quality). More than ever, test engineering teams for electronics manufacturers are on the frontlines trying to ensure the highest product quality for increasingly complex systems.
There are many ways to reuse assets, and although some of these ways may not be as efficient as others, it just makes sense to reuse work that has been previously done. Today, reuse of assets is commonly implemented in product lines.
Consider a product family such as a line of cars. There are S, SE, SEL and limited edition models. These closely related products share one or more common elements. The branches shown in the following diagram of a product line with variants branching off could represent the S, SE, SEL and... [More]
Test drive the new COBOL compiler for free for 90 days
Enterprise COBOL for z/OS V5.1 was rearchitected to include an advanced technology framework for optimizing COBOL applications. It provides significant performance improvements and helps reduce processor utilization and operating costs for running business critical applications on System z. Read more about it in the IBM Systems Magazine article Enterprise COBOL 5.1 – Where Tradition Meets Innovation .
Performance benefit can sometimes be difficult to quantify because it... [More]
In my job, I routinely find myself talking with clients about using modeling to support their systems engineering activities. The discussion usually focuses on the challenges a team is having, and most of their difficulty can often be traced back to a lack of understanding of what modeling is. This is the same issue I saw many students struggling with when I taught introductory modeling classes. In this blog post, I will try to present modeling as simply a formalization of what we, as humans, do all the time: abstract. We do this without even... [More]
Built in the mid to late 90’s, the Mars Climate Orbiter was fitted with the most advanced technology of its time, and it featured dual redundant systems and triple redundant software copies! What could possibly go wrong?
It launched in December 1998 - everything was going according to plan. By September 1999, it approached Mars and attempted to go into orbit. Then - poof - it went out of radio contact! Two days later, it was officially declared "lost". The probe ventured too close to Mars, plummeted into its... [More]
I recently gave a presentation titled “Essentials of Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager ”. During the talk, my co-presenter (the wizard) Andy Lapping mentioned that a better title for Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager would be Rational Information Lifecycle Manager since the tool is not only for engineers but anyone who wants an easily consumable view of their linked information. The key benefit of the tool is that it indexes disparate data that is spread around the company so that you can easily visualize,... [More]
If you are not familiar with the subject of professional licensing for software engineers, you can read a good synopsis here . Surprisingly (to me), the concept of regulating the practice of software engineering in situations where public safety is involved has been met with significant resistance and controversy. I believe this is an important issue, and it is becoming more important because the use of software-driven, safety-critical systems is drastically increasing.
My own experience
Before I get into specific... [More]
The connected vehicle is transformative. It changes the way we do engineering, the way we do business and how and where we are connected.
Connected to what?
Today when we talk about connected vehicles, what we are talking about is the instrumentation and communication of vehicles to external systems. This could be your mobile device, smartphone or tablet, another vehicle (V2V) or a component of an intelligent transportation system (V2I). This inter-connectivity is commonly referred to as vehicle to everything or... [More]
"Every great innovation runs through a developer's hands." —Kristof Kloeckner, GM of IBM Rational
Have you hugged your developer today? Because if you haven't, you probably should. This morning at Innovate 2014 we learned that there is a new renaissance going on in the developer community, one in which there is no boundary between the programmer and the customer. According to Steve Robinson, GM of Cloud Platform Services at IBM, developers are the new kingmakers. And it's all about speed.
In the... [More]
The intent of this post is to provide an insight into the world of the systems engineer that is used to working on large embedded projects. Meaning engineers that design and develop products that fly, move on tracks or wheels and float, or in some cases submerge. It is a summary of a webinar I gave in February that has since been transcribed and turned into a white paper
What is it?
Systems engineering spans all the disciplines involved in developing a product. It provides the means to specify the... [More]