June 16th, 2009
Individual and enterprise users of software today have many options for satisfying their computing and networking needs. Open source software (OSS) is one of them, and it is often selected because of the broader choices OSS can deliver. For instance, OSS offers enterprises the opportunity to be more self-reliant through source code modification. It allows incremental project and upgrade schedules, free rein in integration decisions, and direct interaction with the OSS community. It creates the opportunity to implement projects in a way that is consistently mindful of enterprise goals, rather than the goals of a proprietary software vendor. OSS allows enterprises to select from a broader range of
hardware and software vendors and service providers than proprietary solutions. For these and other reasons, the pace of OSS adoption continues to accelerate in ATM domain.
Open source presents a large potential competitive advantage for hardware and software vendors, and vendors of complementary or substitute services. Linux has contributed greatly to the adoption and success of OSS. Major ATM companies have invested in and legitimized the use of Linux for ATM applications.
There are many strategies around open source platform applications and utilities aside from Linux or an open source solution stack (being a set of open-source software integrated to make a new application providing dedicated services). These strategies include substantial marketing and service alternatives that are creative and highly competitive.
An open source initiative, for instance, may establish an industry standard and this support the role of Eurocontrol in harmonisation in ATM.
A relatively straightforward and simple open source marketing decision may reposition a company or product. For example, using the “Optimisation” strategy, a major company embraces and extends open source software with refinements that may help them pursue new markets or position themselves against established competitors more effectively. Likewise OSS creates product strategy and business model challenges for many traditional software vendors, creating incentive for innovation, opportunities for new comers in short positive emulation.
Source: Seven Open Source Business Strategies for Competitive Advantage
June 4th, 2009
This is a typical question for companies starting to think about switching to Open Source.
Here come the notion of “software maximum cost”.
Let me explain…
When an organisation is working alone to produce a software the only, it is the only sponsor (simple truth ).Every activities on software production are entirely financed by this organisation. It endorse then the total cost of the software or the “maximum cost”.
By switching open, this company gives itself the possibility to share the cost of the product. Another company or any other volunteers can produce a part of the software. This development will benefit to all the community. Any participant will have the right to use the software to turn into a business model but will only finance part of it (in other word make business).
As a consequence either the software will be cheaper to produce fro any participants.
Linux is a good example of this. Before IBM, HP and other used to develop and maintain their own UNIX flavour. Now, they are contributing to the free operating system. Their were able to reduce the required budget for using a operating system and still be able to have it customise for their own needs.
Interested to share the price but get the full product?
May 28th, 2009
In many minds, the situation is unclear. They do not know who is the actual owner of an open source project and how they can use the project outputs. In Open Source, the ownership is separated from the usage:
- The ownership goes to the project
- Anyone is able to use the content of a project
The situation is clear and prevent unmanageable patchwork of ownership to avoid any blockage. Every one is free to use the software as long as he respects the licence and the software belong to the project (in many case the project is managed by a foundation).
I hope the situation is clear now.
May 14th, 2009
Commodification, indeed. ATM suffers from fragmentation. Commodification can be a way to create common functional block to bring ATM towards a higher level of features at a cheaper price.
ATM Business is complex. There are as many environments as airspaces. However common features in ATM system can easily be identified (e.g. middle ware, tracker, quality monitoring, communication node and interfaces). Such common features could be shared by users and industries grouped in a community. Only basic parts of the ATM system would be put public. This means that some modules of an ATM system are freely available and others stay private.
We can believe that ATM software will follow the PC hardware evolution: IBM PCs are made of “off the shelf” component. By design it is open for cloning by other manufacturers. As a result PCs are de facto standard and as such compatible with each other. In 2 decades it replaced almost every other platform (minicomputers and mainframes). By the way, PCs are getting more space in ATC centres computer rooms and desktops.
Some may argue that IT market is far from “life in stake business” like ATM or Aircraft However Boeing has implemented an open source approach on his aircraft design. Before Boeing used to design aircraft completely and to give plans to suppliers. Today, Boeing suppliers start from scratch and deliver complete sub-assembly to Boeing factory. Aicrafts are considered as a giant Lego. Actors intervene in the production according their know-how and expertise. Consequently, it used to take 13 to 17 days to assemble a 777 now it last 3 days to have a 787 in one piece. The 787 program leader said: “That way we get the best ideas from everybody, as opposed to just ours”.
In Open Source working arrangement, basic functional blocks would be available. The starting point of ATM system project would be move towards a higher level of features, expertise and safety compliance. As a result effort available would be put on customer focus solutions with more effort available for safety, rather than technical re-implementation of the existing.
Some may argue that industrial partners will then loose money and do not innovate in such market condition. However this has never been observed in domain where such phenomena occur. As matter of fact, although prices are drove down, efficiency and average wealth levels went up. Vendors still compete on support, services, branding and channels. Circumstances for a win-win situation are therefore put in place.
May 9th, 2009
For commercial-closed software, we observe overhead as many companies are working separately on the same functionalities implementation. These companies run as well safety analysis on their own. Time and money is lost on creating several time the same features and checking safety.
Open source projects improve software quality by applying the following statement - “With enough eyeballs, all bugs shallows.”
Multiplication of actors (ANSP, industries, regulators and international organisations) using and so assessing the safety of their software will combine different perspective for the safety analysis. Let me explain, if different actors playing in different fields in ATC look at a software to prove its safety they will have different perspective (and be interested in different part of the software). By combining these perspectives, their is more chance that the software is fully safety analysed. This will cross-fertilise and increase the solution level of safety.
These actors assess the safety of the same functional block bringing more information, consequently more safety cases can be built. Sharing of safety analysis content and results reduce the cost of safety. Each software user does not need to run a full safety analysis but can built on top of information given by others. It will be almost criminal to use it blindly but as content as well as result are shared adoption is foster and safety cost is driven down. This leads to a situation where the level of safety increases and less money is required.
Proprietary solutions lead to effort fragmentation. Only few people have a complete access to the software. The company releasing the software will provide required evidence of safety compliance, however only people inside the company will have a deep access to the software to test it. Users will be able to test the solution as a black box, where people having access to the source can be tested as a black box of course but also as a white box. Better testing – better safety. Requirements traceability can be observed by user on their own and not only demonstrated by the provider.
In addition, effort available inside a industry company is reduced compared to a whole community working with the software. The company would also benefit from this. Safety will be assess by the user community, leaving more effort available for implementing new feature (safety compliant of course
I strongly believe that safety level can be boost by Open Source and Community working arrangent. At the same time, cost of safety will be driven down because spread on more people.
This is something to think about.
April 27th, 2009
I am Benjamin but you can call me Ben. As many of you I am working in the ATM software and more specifically in the surveillance. I am also a regular user of Open Source software and impressed by achievements of such projects. Consequently, I tried to see if Open Source ways-of-doing-thing was applicable to life-in-stake-domain like ATM.
I propose to begin the Open Source in ATM topic by answering to a simple question:
Are ATM companies subscribing to Open Source approach?
All ATM companies are using Open Source software. Linux replaced UNIX long time ago in ATC centers. However, there is a big step between using Open Source software and producing Open Source software.
Mainly companies are tempted to dive into Open Source but they do not go it for 3 main reasons:
ATC Companies are working in the culture that closed product is the only way to go. They do not understand that the software they are producing can be released in the nature and used by other companies. They fear that their software will be robbed. Today they are already using Linux but cannot imagine taking advantages of knowledge sharing and creating as innovative software in ATC as it can be observed in Open Source world. Collaborating with other experts in the domain will bring their products to a higher level of feature at a reduced cost.
Open Source is chaos
Open Source software still sometimes means software produced in a garage, no quality and security lethal weakness. In other words nothing usable state-of-the-art ATC software. And with the growing demand of Safety people without knowledge of current production mechanisms of Open Source think that such “hippies” cannot do good and reliable software for life-in-stake ATC domain.
This is wrong, Open Source is structured. Newbie’s are excluded from the playground until they have shown strong abilities. Successful Open Source project are very structured and organized, this is called the governance and this is one of the key success factors.
No money to be made
Some people think that when open source is in the air, love happened and software fall from the sky. This is wrong as well, more than 3/4 of Open Source software is developed by professional engineers paid by major software companies like IBM, Sun, Red Hat, Novell or even Microsoft. They find here ways to reduce their initial investment and to promote innovation. The investment is shared by stakeholders of the project that are free to use outputs for their own benefit. The actual project take advantage of innovation based on the simple principles (”There are more in 2 brains than in only 1″ times the number of Open Source developers and users - easy to believe that it is good, hein ?) Red Hat has a turn over of 127.3 Millions dollars for the second quarter of 2008 in progression of 20%.
To summarize, I think that most of ATC companies are waiting for pioneers to open the way.
April 24th, 2009
SkySoft-ATM was built more than 10 years ago with the idea to provide secured and reliable ATM solutions based on COTS hardware.
At that point of time nobody thought it was possible to replace proprietary (and very expensive) hardware with COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf) hardware.
What is a example of COTS hardware? This is a normal PC you can find from any vendor.
Even the video card was a discussion point.
The idea behind that was to take best of the breed “common hardware” with better performances than proprietary ones, with less complexity at 1/10 of the original price. On the graphic card topic it was even 1/100 of the price! Replacement parts are easy to find and interconnections between systems are standard. MTBF (Mean Time Between failure) of the selected COTS hardware is more than good enough (6 000 days and + are common today).
This was a wide usage of commoditization.
Just have a look to the new air traffic centers and you’ll be surprised to see how COTS hardware is more and more deployed (on the client AND serve sides). Major industries are also working on COTS based solution and open development languages.
Today, we see open source software (OSS) as the next step in that commoditization direction. It already happened in ATM with the Linux usage (Ben will detailed that soon).
The difference is that the aim of Albatross is not only to use but to create and share algorithms, ideas, code and complete products to increase its adoption.
Quality and security will be easier to ensure due to the OSS business model.
The COTS hardware experience showed that mass market and commonly used system are reliable (even more). Let’s redo it with OSS!
April 2nd, 2009
Dear community members, to enable all the features and being updated on a regular basis, please update your profile to add your picture, country, company name etc….
To join the Albatross Display project, go to the home page and click on “join the project” in the blue box “Albatross display”!
You’ll have the choice between several types of contributions.
April 2nd, 2009
We reached 60 members today!
March 17th, 2009
Just come and visit us at ATC Global 2009 (Amsterdam, March 17th-19th), we have a complete running system with Albatross Display.
See you soon!