By Robert Ferguson
Software Solutions Division
Software sustainment involves coordinating the processes,
procedures, people, information, and databases required to support,
maintain, and operate software-reliant aspects of DoD systems. The 2011 book Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s Aircraft Sustainment Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs states
Air Force is concerned that the resources needed to sustain its legacy
aircraft may increase to the point where they could consume the
resources needed to modernize the Air Force.
With millions of lines of code riding on aircraft and automobiles, the cost of software sustainment is increasing rapidly. Several studies
show that the cost of sustainment is already as much as 70 percent of
the total cost for the life of the software. All the armed services face
similar challenges, including deciding how to improve the efficiency
and productivity of sustainment organizations and how much should be
invested in these improvements. This blog post describes an SEI research
initiative aimed at developing an economic model to help anticipate
costs and postpone the potential tipping point when sustaining current
products is less attractive than replacing legacy systems.
By Douglas C. Schmidt
launching the SEI blog two years ago, one of our top priorities was to
advance the scope and impact of SEI research and development projects,
while increasing the visibility of the work by SEI technologists who
staff these projects. After 114 posts, and 72,608 visits from readers of
our blog, this post reflects on some highlights from the last two years
and gives our readers a preview of posts to come.
By Bill Scherlis,
Chief Technology Officer (Acting)
extent of software in Department of Defense (DoD) systems has increased
by more than an order of magnitude every decade. This is not just
because there are more systems with more software; a similar growth
pattern has been exhibited within individual, long-lived military systems. In recognition of this growing software role, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E, now ASD(R&E)) requested the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a study of defense software producibility,
with the purpose of identifying the principal challenges and developing
recommendations regarding both improvement to practice and priorities
for research. The NRC appointed a committee, which I chaired, that
included many individuals well known to the SEI community, including Larry Druffel, Doug Schmidt, Robert Behler, Barry Boehm,
and others. After more than three years of effort—which included an
intensive review and revision process—we issued our final report, Critical Code: Software Producibility for Defense. In the year and a half since the report was published, I have been asked to brief it extensively to the DoD and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) communities.
This blog posting, the first in a series, highlights several of the
committee’s key findings, specifically focusing on three areas of
identified improvements to practice—areas where the committee judged
that improvements both are feasible and could substantially help the DoD
to acquire, sustain, and assure software-reliant systems of all kinds.
By Mike Phillips
Acquisition Support Program
In my preceding blog post, I promised to provide more examples highlighting the importance of software sustainment in the US Department of Defense (DoD). My focus is on certain configurations of weapons systems that are no longer in production for the United States Air Force, but are expected to remain a key component of our defense capability for decades to come, and thus software upgrade cycles need to refresh capabilities every 18 to 24 months. Throughout this series on efficient and effective software sustainment, I will highlight examples from each branch of the military. This second blog post describes effective sustainment engineering efforts in the Air Force, using examples from across the service’s Air Logistics Centers (ALCs).
By Mike Phillips
Senior Member of the Technical Staff
Acquisition Support Program
Our SEI blog has included thoughtful discussions about sustaining software, such as the two-part post “The Growing Importance of Sustaining Software for the DoD.”
Software sustainment is growing in importance as the lifetimes of
hardware systems greatly exceed the normal lifetime of software systems
they are partnered with, as well as when system functionality
increasingly depends on software elements. This blog post—the first in a
multi-part series—provides specific examples of the importance of software sustainment in the Department of Defense (DoD),
where software upgrade cycles need to refresh capabilities every 18 to
24 months on weapon systems that have been out of production for many
years, but are expected to maintain defense capability for decades.