Wind River creates aerospace and defense unit to be more responsive to customers

In a recent editorial, Mr. Keller warned Wind River Systems Inc. that it was losing ground as the market leader in the real-time embedded software market.

Jun 1st, 2002

by Steve Blackman, director of marketing Wind River Systems Aerospace & Defense business unit

Editor's note: this guest viewpoint is response to a column by John Keller that appeared on page 1 of the March 2002 edition of Military & Aerospace Electronics, entitled "Real-time software market expansion: a lesson and a warning for Wind River Systems.

In a recent editorial, Mr. Keller warned Wind River Systems Inc. that it was losing ground as the market leader in the real-time embedded software market. Wind River respectfully disagrees with Mr. Keller's position, and would like to take this opportunity to update Military & Aerospace Electronics readers with information on what we are doing to answer the needs of aerospace and defense systems manufacturers.

First, we want to thank Mr. Keller for acknowledging that Wind River is the leading provider of embedded software in the military and aerospace market. We have earned this position by providing customers with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software solutions that enable them to develop secure and reliable aerospace and defense systems. Simply put, Wind River has been able to deliver value to aerospace and defense manufacturers and they have rewarded us with their business. For this, we thank our customers and are grateful for their business.

Wind River recognizes that, in order to sustain its leadership position, we must continue to adapt to market changes in a nimble fashion and stay connected to our core customers. In the aforementioned editorial, a comparison is drawn between Wind River and Ready Systems, the former default provider of real-time operating systems for military and aerospace applications, hinting that Wind River may be headed down a similar path as that which eventually led to the decline of Ready Systems. This comparison misses the key reason why Wind River has been successful: we listen to our customers and respond by providing what they need.

Looking back in the days of Ready Systems and their ARTX/VRTX products, companies wanted a kernel, some tools, and a little help from their supplier. As the market evolved, manufacturers soon needed a kernel, board support packages, better tools, networking protocols, and increased support. Ready Systems was unable to respond to market shifts in a timely manner. Wind River was able to deliver the necessary technology components that customers wanted. Customers then expressed the need to increase productivity and not deal with tools from multiple suppliers. Wind River responded with Tornado, the leading integrated development environment (IDE) in the embedded world. When the market shifted architectures to 32-bit microprocessors, PowerPC being the leader, Wind River once again listened to its customers and provided what they needed. This simple formula for success has not changed.

Saying that, it is important to also recognize that our approach as a company has changed as the embedded industry has evolved. Up until a few years ago, Wind River marketed itself as an "embedded technology company," whereby we provided technology for the "embedded" market. Over the course of the last several years, Wind River has come to realize that there is not a single "embedded market" per say, but rather numerous markets with very specific application requirements existing in each.

Recognizing this evolution, Wind River has organized itself into five business units to service its key target markets: aerospace & defense, digital consumer electronics, networking, automotive, and industrial. The organization is designed to focus on the technical needs of each of these markets and to be responsive to and, in most cases, even ahead of market changes. Wind River's strategy is to provide pre-integrated solutions that allow OEMs to focus on their own innovation and competitive differentiation, rather than having to needlessly spend time integrating numerous, cumbersome bits and pieces that go into today's complex systems. Wind River has invested heavily in providing complete solutions for this reason — an example of which is Tornado for DO-178B. This allows developers of safety critical avionics to make use of certification material provided by Wind River during FAA approval, thus helping our customers through this critical phase of their development.

Aerospace and defense (A&D) systems have always constituted an integral part of Wind River's business. A&D was, in fact, the original market in which the VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS) played a significant role. And after more than 20 years servicing aerospace and defense customers, Wind River continues to see significant growth in this market, as evidenced by several significant design wins in the last year-and-a-half. NASA recently used Wind River software and development tools for its X-38 spacecraft — a mission critical application that enables scientists aboard the International Space Station to return safely back to earth in the event of an emergency. A prototype of the X-38 was successfully tested in December at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at California's Edwards Air Force Base, with every function (as well as the functions of the final space-based vehicle) controlled by the VxWorks RTOS. In addition, Raytheon recently used Tornado for DO-178B to bring to market its Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) flight navigation system. The WAAS system (and consequently Tornado for DO-178B) has been certified by the FAA and is certified for commercial flight navigation use.

With more resources now allocated for aerospace and defense-related customers, Wind River is able to more quickly respond to the ever-evolving requirements mandated by aerospace and defense manufacturers.

Two major product releases for the aerospace and defense market have occurred in the last six months — one for radar/sonar applications and one for safety-critical avionics systems. Our radar and sonar customers typically utilize a combination of CPUs and DSPs silicon building blocks in their products. As developers increasingly piece together complex systems of multiple DSPs, CPUs, and multi-core processors, Wind River's VSPWorks development platform enables developers to write code for these distributed computing systems as if they were single processing systems. This new technology enables enormous scalability in system design and processing power, with the ability to scale up with multiple, even hundreds of, processors while eliminating the need to change code. The operating system and development tools employ a unique virtual single processor (VSP) model that enables developers to specify tasks and objects that may reside on any processor in the system, and VSPWorks takes care of all inter-processor communication. This capability simplifies system design, provides scalability and portability, and offers extreme flexibility, especially for larger systems. Radar/sonar developers can now choose an integrated solution suite for development, easily scale it to the performance level required, and accelerate their time to market while reducing their development costs.

The second area where our investment in the aerospace and defense market is yielding time to market advantages is in safety-critical avionics. Wind River is the only RTOS company with a full-time FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER) on its staff, and has steadily been gaining market share in this segment. Tornado for DO-178B is the first, and so far only, COTS solution supporting the RTCA/DO-178B standard for safety critical avionics with complete documentation to support Level A certification. This solution has been has been used in an application that has received certification (Raytheon's WAAS flight navigation system referenced above).

Also in the area of safety critical avionics, Wind River has partnered with Smiths Aerospace and Ada Core Technologies to develop Tornado for Safety Critical Systems, supporting the development of a wide range of safety/mission-critical embedded and desktop systems including aerospace avionics applications, and air land and sea defense systems. Tornado for Safety Critical Systems provides spatial and temporal partitioning in accordance with the ARINC653 standard, and is well suited for developing integrated modular avionics applications. We believe that providing focused development solutions such as Tornado for Safety Critical Systems is key to Wind River's long-term success in this market, and shows our commitment to aerospace and defense manufacturers. As part of this strategy, Wind River will follow up with more complete solutions for additional aerospace and defense market segments.

In conclusion, Wind River is earning more design wins in this industry than any other supplier and continues to expand our markets and grow market share. We're bringing new technology to the market and applying these solutions to solve development problems and address our customers' needs. In the aerospace and defense market alone, Wind River has brought forth two new operating systems (VSPWorks and VxWorks Cert) and will release another one in the coming year (VxWorks AE653). No other supplier comes close to the capabilities and rate at which Wind River is delivering products to its aerospace and defense customers.

A January 2002 market study conducted by Venture Development Corp. ("The Embedded Software Strategic Market Intelligence Program 2001/2002, Volume IV: World Market for Embedded Operating Systems, Software Development Tools, Design Automation Tools, and Test Automation Tools") shows Wind River to be the market share leader in embedded operating systems, bundled tools, as well as in standalone tools. The report further states that end users see Wind River as the best solution, the fastest operating system, and the smallest memory footprint.

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