I-Logix Harmony Process Integrates Systems and Software Development

9/20/2004 - Embedded systems and software solutions provider I-Logix announced the formal introduction of a new process that combines systems and software engineering called Harmony®. I-Logix brings 17 years of experience in these domains to the creation of this new approach fusing systems and software development.

There are a number of problems that reappear in most systems development projects. First, there is a big conceptual divide between the way systems development is approached by systems engineers and software engineers. Systems engineers predominantly represent systems using functional/procedural orientation, while software engineers increasingly use object orientation. The "great semantic divide" between these disciplines is a common source of error because these engineers use different languages, tools, and representations. This problem is further exacerbated by the "throw it over the fence" hand-off from systems to software leading to a process gap. Additionally, requirements are most commonly represented as text, resulting in requirements that are ambiguous, imprecise, incomplete or conflicting. Finally, long-term management of intellectual property with traditional approaches have proven to be very expensive and error prone due to lack of an integrated process and a common development environment and artifacts. Harmony addresses all of these concerns and more with a set of an integrated systems and software workflows, artifact definitions and plans.

Harmony is a model-based development process based on the UML 2.0 and SysML language. This common standards compliant language allows Harmony to provide a seamless integration between functional and object modeling. Harmony is a "hybrid spiral" (see Figure 1) incorporating an overall project flow with highly efficient design iterations that provide high quality system specification, design, implementation, and validation. Strategic issues with traditional approaches, such as ambiguous or incomplete requirements, are managed through the use of model execution and validation. The resulting requirements models handed off to software engineers are of much higher quality than with traditional text-based approaches. Model execution and validation further ensures the correctness of the architecture and software design as well.

While traditional approaches necessitate the creation of independent validation tests, in Harmony projects are tested against the requirements throughout the process. This is possible because Harmony uses model-based requirements instead of text-based requirements. UML sequence diagrams allow for the unambiguous specification of both requirements and test vectors at the same time. These test vectors are used not only for final system acceptance testing but also for intermediate design testing in the incremental construction of the system.

The systems engineering workflow can further be broken into the sequential set of steps shown in Figure 2. While the overall flow is top-down, feedback loops may be executed to integrate additional knowledge gained as the work progresses. The hardware and software specifications and the Interface Control Documents (ICDs) are handed off as models that can be used directly in the detailed development that follows.

The spiral part of the process follows the system engineering activities. Harmony uses an iterative spiral, adapted from the popular Rapid Optimizing Process for Embedded Systems (ROPES) process. The spiral workflow results in a series of validated incremental system releases of increasing capability.

Harmony provides a number of benefits through a seamless integrated process for projects with both systems and software engineers striking an optimal balance between discipline and agility. The Harmony documentation gives clear guidelines on how to effectively model complex systems under development and define the deliverable artifacts between process phases as well as between engineering disciplines. The improved workflow greatly reduces the introduction of expensive strategic defects, resulting in higher quality systems, developed in less time with fewer defects. Harmony is also easily configurable according to project characteristics such as safety-critical factors, complexity, or the degree of hardware/software co-design. Finally, Harmony is fully compliant with the DODAF, DO-178B, and CMMI standards.

The Harmony process was made possible by the combined contributions of I-Logix Chief Evangelist Dr. Bruce Powel Douglass and Director and Chief Methodologist for Systems Design Dr. Hans Peter Hoffman. Dr. Douglass brings to Harmony over 20 years of software modeling experience and is the author of many books on this topic. Dr. Hoffman brings over 17 years of international consulting experience for model-based system development in the Aerospace, Defense, and Automotive industries.

Founded in 1987, I-Logix is a leading provider of Model-Driven Development (MDD) solutions for systems design through software development focused on real-time embedded applications. These solutions allow engineers to graphically model the behavior and functionality of their embedded systems, analyze and validate the system, and automatically generate production quality code in a variety of languages. I-Logix also offers iNotion®, a product lifecycle management portal designed for software; coupling product development, quality assurance, marketing and the customer by providing instant, controllable, web-based access to development artifacts and product management services 24/7 worldwide.

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