Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Consortium to Put the Engineering Into Software

Factors for success

Creating a successful consortium will take a strong business leader with excellent marketing skills. Such a business leader will need to be recruited from the industry since industry knowledge is critical. Equally important is that the person have the impartiality to work through competitive issues between participants. Although the overhead for such an endeavor must be kept small, a sufficient, skilled staff is also required.

A second success factor will be to learn from the lessons of previous efforts. Consortia are regularly set up in today’s IT business -- many are short lived and accomplish little, others continue for years (e.g., MCC for the microelectronics industry) and achieve measures of success. The ISR Consortium, being a reuse based consortium, should excel at leveraging the knowledge gained from previous and existing consortia.

Another key facet of success is to rapidly demonstrate success to stake holders, in this case the investing corporations and universities who are participating. This means that the selection must be carefully made of which architectures, models and standards to work on first. Currently some infrastructure domains and some industry and cross-industry domains are achieving some consensus on approaches through various standards organization activities. Potentially getting more emphasis by participants in driving best of breed work in some of these activities will be a quick return activity. However, it may be determined that those activities lack an overarching set of architectural principles and so will not provide a broad ability for integration and interoperability between domains over time. In this case architectural principles, defined and delivered to market in stages, might be an important initial project.

There will be a need to constantly monitor market and technology trends to identify changes and then decide whether continuing funding is appropriate for ongoing projects. In software reuse today, throwing away is as necessary as creating. Some market trends appear to be significant enough that investment in them provides reasonably low risk, e.g., extension of the Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) application domains into related areas such as customer service. In the ERP domain the market penetration of SAP and a few other vendors is so significant that defining architecture and model extensions is less difficult than in highly segmented markets without clear market leaders.


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