Tackling complexity in systems development and delivery

New and enhanced IBM Rational solutions for developing smarter products


Although software is the value driver behind business success, because of consumer demands and the faster pace of technology changes, the software component in smarter products presents challenging new layers of complexity for systems development teams. In fact, this complexity seems to be the arch enemy of product innovation. We frequently hear statements from practitioners such as these:

"We will need 2 weeks to understand the impact of a change across the engineering teams." — Systems Engineer
"It could take me days just to find all the software modules, design elements, and requirements related to the defect the test team just found." — Software Engineer
"I can't easily tell which version of the control software is designed for which version of the sensors." — Electrical Engineer
"We've changed supplier for a part, and it'll take me ages to determine any impact on the systems design or ability to meet requirements." — Mechanical Engineer

Today's product and systems teams must learn to manage these new forms of complexity to deliver product innovation and gain a competitive advantage. This article introduces new IBM® Rational® solutions to help you meet this challenge.

The challenges of smarter product delivery

To deliver today's smarter products, engineers and manufacturers must unify embedded software development expertise with agile systems engineering capabilities that cover specification and design. But this seems like a tall order. And how, exactly, does this lead to innovation?

Smarter products are necessarily complex. They require collaboration between multiple engineering disciplines. The software component of product design presents unique challenges compared to engineering fields grounded in the physical world. Consider these issues: the environment in which smarter products must operate is usually not fully known at design time, and software designs typically change much faster than physical designs.

Overcoming these challenges demands increased agility in software development. So the question is: Where should product development teams focus their efforts to conquer complexity and deliver innovation? IBM Rational believes they should focus on the areas that actually encourage innovation. The best practices governing systems engineering and embedded software development are areas that hold great promise for organizations that want to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Adopting a systems approach

Adopting systems engineering practices as an antidote to traditional development practices, which have been primarily concerned with physical design and the bill of materials (BOM) as outputs, can seem like a daunting task. But product development must evolve if product teams are to succeed in exploiting the many business opportunities arising in this age of software-driven innovation. By viewing product development from a systems perspective, teams benefit from a new top-down, holistic, domain-integrated view, rather than the bottom-up assembly of parts. True, the details of the physical design and the BOM are not going away, but they need to be understood through the lens of systems engineering practices.

Developing a competency in embedded software development is vital for teams to avoid being left behind in the next wave of product innovation. Integrating electrical, mechanical, and software engineering through a systems approach, with linked lifecycle data support, vastly increases understanding of data relationships and more effective collaboration across engineering disciplines.

IBM Rational solutions are founded on an open, federated approach to integrating engineering disciplines. Based on Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) standards, the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering offers next-generation product development that leverages linked lifecycle data as the primary mechanism for integration.

New IBM Rational solutions for systems teams

Greatly enhanced for the fall 2012 launch, the IBM Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering provides integrated, collaborative capabilities for the full lifecycle, from requirements and logical design, through planning, change and configuration management, and test management. Featuring the new IBM Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager (RELM), our solution offers specific support for aerospace and defense, automotive, medical devices, electronic design automation, energy and utilities, and telecommunications to help our clients meet their needs for compliance and rapid delivery. The solution can be further enhanced with tools and services from the extensive ecosystem of talented and experienced IBM Business Partners.

New or enhanced offerings fall into three areas of capability: product development lifecycle, industry solutions, and the partner ecosystem. The subsections that follow describe each of these areas.

The product development lifecycle

Enhancements for the product development lifecycle include these highlights:

  • The new Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager
  • Rational Jazz™ technology-enabled improvements to Rational DOORS®
  • Enhanced collaborative design capabilities through Rational Rhapsody® and Rhapsody Design Manager
  • New practice guidelines integrated within the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering.

Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager

Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager (RELM) 1.0 accesses data from a variety of Rational tools and can be extended to third-party and in-house tools. It includes support for indexing, accessing, and navigating to data from Rational Team Concert™, Rational DOORS, Rational Quality Manager, and Rational Rhapsody Design Manager (the last of which also gives RELM access to data from MathWorks Simulink).

RELM is extensible so that you can incorporate data from other sources. The data in the source tools needs to be exposed through web services that adhere to OSLC specifications. Incorporating that data into the RELM index requires knowledge of the Tracked Resource Set (TRS) specification. With RELM 1.0, IBM will work closely with clients to make data available to RELM from tools that they use from other vendors and from any tools developed in-house. This will most likely include tools supporting other engineering disciplines. IBM will be working with clients and business partners to extend the reach of RELM into third-party and in-house tools, too.

Jazz-based collaborative engineering

For the last few years, we have been introducing and improving OSLC-based integrations between DOORS and other tools. The latest OSLC support adds Rhapsody Design Manager integration with DOORS.

Rational DOORS Next Generation (DOORS NG, introduced in November 2012) offers requirements collaboration, planning, reuse, and lifecycle traceability, based on the Rational solution to Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM) applications, which are integrated by using Jazz technology. DOORS NG natively employs Jazz application frameworks so that DOORS users benefit from the common services of the Jazz Team Server, including common user administration, searching, commercial database support, single sign-on, work items, and more. DOORS NG does not replace the DOORS 9 series but will be developed in parallel. DOORS customers with active support and subscriptions will be entitled to use both DOORS 9 and Next Generation capabilities. Data can be exchanged both ways, between DOORS 9.4 (and later) and DOORS NG, and requirements can be linked across the two tools. You can download DOORS NG from Jazz.net, where you can also participate in discussions, see development plans, and report defects or request enhancements.

To build DOORS NG, we have extended the technology first delivered in Rational Requirements Composer to address the needs for requirements engineering in large-scale, complex projects by bringing forward key concepts from DOORS and improving on them. As a result, it's now possible to reuse requirement types across modules and reuse requirements in more than one module, using a fully functional web client in addition to the rich client.

Collaborative design management

Rhapsody 8.0 with Design Manager 4.0 greatly enhances your ability to address complexity in your systems engineering and embedded software development work. A completely reworked user experience highlights the release. Systems engineers, embedded software developers, AUTOSAR engineers, architects, and testers alike will find the new Rhapsody optimized with automatic tool configurations geared to their roles, as well as improved usability and context-related guidance to increase effectiveness and productivity.

Rhapsody and Rhapsody Design Manager offer collaborative engineering practices that enable teams to:

  • Simplify design collaboration through Jazz-based model management.
  • Unify requirements and design with a "single-source of truth," using OSLC.
  • Streamline safety-critical design by using certification assistance.
  • Automate compliance with the latest SysML, AUTOSAR, and UPDM standards.

Integrated practices

An additional highlight in the fall product launch for systems is new and enhanced lifecycle metrics, process guidance, implementation templates, and tool mentors. Product engineering and development teams can specify, design, implement, and validate complex products and the software that powers them with an integrated set of tools, practices, and services.

New features help you:

  • Achieve greater value from lifecycle traceability with guidance on new ways to view and query linked data.
  • Improve cross lifecycle reporting with new tool mentors and templates for document generation.
  • Respond faster to emerging issues with new lifecycle metrics.
  • Apply requirements driven quality management with greater efficiency by using new tool mentors.

Industry solutions

Smarter products require deep industry knowledge. This fall, we are offering updated, industry-focused solutions for designing and testing products to achieve objectives, such as meeting compliance requirements more efficiently and improving safety, quality, and usability.

IBM Rational specialized software is available for these industries:

Aerospace and defense
DO-178C best practices, templates and tooling
Extended support for Defense Architecture Frameworks
AUTOSAR and ISO26262 best practices, templates, and tools
Electronic design
For semiconductor and electronic design industries, we now offer solution practice and process assets to support EDA design workflows. We are also delivering usability enhancements for the IBM Rational ClearCase® and Cadence Design Framework integration.
Energy and utilities
New preconfigured requirements database for safety and security standards.
Medical devices
FDA Quality System Regulation (21 CFR Part 820) and IEC 62304 best practices, templates, and tools.
New industry-specific testing with GSMA OneAPI support, as well as enhanced planning and design capabilities with TM Forum Frameworx.

For information about what's available for other industries, follow the link in Related topics to IBM Rational solutions.

Partner ecosystem that extends your access to software and services

IBM and its Business Partners are building solutions to address our systems customers' complex business problems. We are helping to break down the silos, organizational walls, and technology or process barriers by viewing our customers' businesses not through our product solution lens, but through their eyes. . Our ecosystem approach helps create a series of solutions and services that merge the best of our combined products, industry knowledge, and technology expertise to deliver greater customer value.

Our clients expect IBM to help them unify their whole development environments, which include not only tools from IBM but from other vendors, too. No one vendor can meet all of their needs in product and systems development. This commitment drives our ongoing effort to build and leverage a strong partner ecosystem across the systems and software delivery chain. Our joint efforts address industry-specific needs with a unified lifecycle that brings together the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering, specialized tools, and process workflows.

Here is a rundown of what each vendor in the ecosystem does:

321 Gang
321 Gang is a long-time Rational Business Partner, a beta tester and Rational design partner for IBM's RELM software. Specializing in aerospace and defense, automotive and other embedded systems-intensive industries, 321Gang can help you realize RELM benefits through industry, process, and technology experience.
Manageware is an experienced Rational Business Partner in the Middle East, a beta tester and Rational design partner for IBM's RELM software. Manageware has deep experience in the electrical, aerospace, telecommunications, and healthcare industries and provides implementation, customization, and integration services for Rational products.
National Instruments
IBM Rational and National Instruments are teaming together to provide a collaborative, end-to-end quality management and real-time testing solution. The solution helps reduce time to resolve defects and facilitates improved test component reuse. This helps increase productivity and quality, while helping to improve risk management and reduce time to market.
GEBS has considerable experience with Rational software. GEBS helps clients manage the complexity of reporting across the systems and software engineering lifecycle with Rational Publishing Engine templates that address compliance and governance (such as ISO26262, DO178B/C) and new output formats, including Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint, and web, mobile, and tablet clients. GEBS helps drive simplicity and collaboration with shared resources, role-based access, history tracking, and scheduled report generation.
INCHRON enables embedded system developers to design, implement, and test networked, real-time critical systems to better identify and prevent performance bottlenecks, improve system response times, decrease messaging delays, and discover unwanted system interferences. Integrations are available for both IBM Rational DOORS and IBM Rational Rhapsody.
Elektrobit is integrating IBM Rational Rhapsody, a graphical modeling tool for complex software systems, with EB tresos, a tool that provides a framework for basic software configuration and deployment, down to basic hardware control components within a car. Engineers can test their designs and software even before the future hardware is available.
TestPlant provides flexible, noninvasive solutions for automated graphical user interface testing, helping to improve efficiency and quality. TestPlant's eggPlant software uses image recognition technology to automate testing of user interfaces for a wide range of technologies, devices, operating systems, and browsers. Test management is integrated with the Rational software to improve collaboration and provide traceability back to requirements.

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ArticleTitle=Tackling complexity in systems development and delivery