The view from 2005: When People, Process, and Technology Are Equal - Embedded.com

The view from 2005: When People, Process, and Technology Are Equal

Today the average device has a million lines of code; two years from now it will be twice that.

Only 2% of the world's microprocessors run on traditional desktops and servers. The rest reside inside something else, whether that's a digital camera, a printer, the control panel in an airplane cockpit, or the MP3 player in your jacket pocket. To call the software that brings intelligence and connectivity to the world's most interesting products “embedded” is to minimize both its cultural impact and the market opportunity it represents for the companies that create it or provide the tools for creating it.

While the “embedded systems” business is a $750 million market with a fragmented assortment of tools, operating systems, and other technology components, we at Wind River feel the concept of device software optimization (DSO) is a burgeoning market that we and the investment community expect to grow to $3 billion by 2006.

Wind River's DSO strategy is based on an understanding of where our industry has been, the daunting challenges it faces, and how to ensure survival and success in an almost unimaginably competitive future. Complexity, exponentially increasing complexity, is the enemy of success—the biggest single reason 54% of device software designs get to market behind schedule, 66% are over budget, and a third of them are dysfunctional. Today the average device has a million lines of code. Two years from now, the code load will be twice that and the probability of failure many times higher.

The way we see it, another RTOS, no matter how responsive or small its memory footprint or impeccable its open-source lineage, only begins to address the real challenges device developers face. Software, no matter how good, is only one part of an answer that's as big as the problem itself, one that encompasses people, process, and technology working together to address complex problems.

Solutions, as we define them, are both horizontal and vertical. The bottom line is an open, integrated, and standards-based development suite that optimizes the development process at every stage—a way to leverage improved technology to increase human productivity. At the next level, a device software platform integrates leading operating systems with the middleware our customers want and their customers demand. Building connectivity, security, Web services, and management into the runtime environment is another way DSO frees human talent to do the innovative engineering that makes products and companies great.

Not all device development projects are the same. Consumer electronics have brief development cycles and short market windows, while industrial devices and safety-critical applications are protracted in both gestation and life expectancy. To offer middleware that matches the demands of particular vertical markets optimizes the engineering efforts of our customers at every phase of the development process, whether that's software emulation in advance of hardware bring-up, core visibility during debugging, or error reporting after deployment. Creating an ecosystem of industry-leading companies whose products are developed in concert with and validated against our own is another service-as-product aspect of device software optimization.

The last component—the transparent shrink wrap around the technology offering—is service, a productized and highly customized intellectual capital that recognizes how individual the goals and challenges our customers live with really are. An integrated development suite or a platform that comes with market-specific middleware are ways in which standardization optimizes device software development. Services are the other side of that coin—optimization through the disciplined application of best practices methodology to individual problems. In the long run, the combined experience of a hundred device software engineers is worth a lot of code.

Multilayered, sophisticated, and steeped in common sense, this is the process we call device software optimization. With it, we enable our customers to develop and run devices better, faster, at lower cost, and more reliably.

Ken Klein is president, CEO, and chairman of the board at Wind River Systems. He has more than 20-years experience in the software industry in different roles, from engineer to CEO. He has a BS in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering from University of Southern California.

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