Monday, December 3, 2012

Assessing the components ecosystem of Polarsys

Software development companies are betting on open-source software (OSS) in order to keep them competitive in the market. This bet does not just alleviate the economic costs required by IT solutions but it also introduces benefits such as flexibility or the reduction of software development time.  Surveys taken in the last five years by Garner, Inc show an increase adoption in OSS solutions on organizations’ IT strategy to the detriment of proprietary software. Even though this adoption does not mean that OSS solutions will substitute proprietary ones (in fact, OSS are commonly acquired to complement existing proprietary software), companies seen already OSS as a clear alternative, when possible, to existing proprietary solutions.

This change is happening in general in the software development industry, no matter the application domain. However, in some domains, this change is taking long due to migration, interoperability, or extensibility problems among others. Examples of such domains are: aerospace, defense and security, energy or healthcare. These domains demand critical software whose development requires a long life-cycle, usually lasting more than ten years. However, in this scenario, we hardly find support for proprietary solutions. In this case, OSS arises as a potential solution for innovation and better support.

Within this context, the OPEES ITEA 2 project was born with the objective of settling a community and building the necessary means and enablers to ensure long-term availability of innovative engineering technologies in the domain of dependable/critical software-intensive embedded systems. One of the major outcomes of the project is the Polarsys Eclipse Industry Working Group and the set of services offered within the Polarsys infrastructure. 

This infrastructure has been conceived as an ecosystem for open source components aimed at the development of embedded systems for such domains. Such an ecosystem will be provided in the infrastructure as a catalogue of components. Such components will not just be hosted in the infrastructure but also assessed so that any member of the Polarsys community can have a better understanding and use of such components. This assessment has been materialized by means of a quality meta-model which has been designed and implemented within the context of the OPEES project. The meta-model allows representing what can be assessed in a component and how (see figure 1), component assessment values (see figure 2), and who recommends a certain component (see figure 3). 

Briefly, the first part of the meta-model allows gathering information about the different metrics that can be used in each domain according to the applicable standards. Such metrics are obtained by computing (algorithm4valuation) the set of related attributes.
Figura 1

The second part of the meta-model allows gathering assessments of different components according to existing metrics. This assessment (represented by the Measurement class) is performed on a specific component (ComponentVersion) given a particular metric.
Figura 2

Finally, Polarsys members can make comments and recommendations over existing components. This information is gathered in this latter part of the meta-model shown in figure 3.

Figura 3

Such meta-model has been implemented by Atos as a service within the Polarsys infrastructure. This service is offered as a web and a desktop application. Both have been implemented using gPM, an open source tool included in the TOPCASED toolkit. Figure 4 shows a screen shot of the web application showing the functionality for adding a metric.

Figura 4

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