Software reliability information proliferates on World Wide Web

Washington - Military and aerospace systems engineers pressed constantly to maintain and improve software reliability now can turn to resources on the World Wide Web for help. While Web-based information resources can become outdated quickly, vary in quality, and even unexpectedly disappear, the medium offers quick access to resources that were difficult and costly to find only months ago.

Mar 1st, 1997

Software reliability information proliferates on World Wide Web

By Wilson Dizard III

Washington - Military and aerospace systems engineers pressed constantly to maintain and improve software reliability now can turn to resources on the World Wide Web for help. While Web-based information resources can become outdated quickly, vary in quality, and even unexpectedly disappear, the medium offers quick access to resources that were difficult and costly to find only months ago.

• Rome Laboratory Software Quality Technology Transfer Consortium in Rome, N.Y. http://rlsqttc.utica.kaman.com/sqt2c/sqt2c3.html.

Officials of Rome Laboratory, a U.S. Air Force advanced technology center, have set up their Software Quality Technology Transfer Consortium to promote "cooperative application of software quality methods, tools, and procedures," and bill the consortium as the largest cooperative project of its kind in North America.

The consortium focuses particularly on improving software reliability by the application of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for software quality improvement using a software quality framework (SQF).

The web site includes an online version of the laboratory`s SQF implementation procedure guidebook. The SQF uses 13 software quality factors in a model that also provides metrics necessary to judge the quality of military and aerospace software.

A recent addition to the Rome software consortium web site is a description of the Lockheed-Martin Fort Worth Co. Enhanced Diagnostic Aid (EDNA), and a linked program to evaluate the EDNA`s effectiveness in predicting software quality.

Rome Laboratory officials are working in a three-year program to evaluate the effectiveness of EDNA by using the Air Force`s Software Quality Measurement Factors and Quality Evaluation System (QUES).

The consortium includes Hughes Aircraft of Canada, Ltd.; Lockheed Martin (Fort Worth); the Northrop-Grumman Aerospace Corp. Melbourne Systems; and the software reliability research company SoHar Inc. as industry partners.

• Software Assurance Technology Center (SATC) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. http://satc.gsfc. nasa.gov/homepage.html.

This home page describes NASA`s five-year old SATC, which is a project of the Systems Reliability and Safety Office at Goddard. Look here for information about software standards and guidebooks, software metrics research and development, and new links to assurance tools, techniques, and project support.

This homepage also provides links to NASA software policy and standards documents, as well as to information on software metrics and risk assessment for software reliability.

This homepage, however, does not appear to reflect all of NASA`s resources in the field.

The SATC web site appears to provide limited content. The graphics are very simple. The links point to only a few other resources. The orientation of the site is on target for Military & Aerospace Electronics readers. This is a promising homepage that needs a little more attention from its creators.

• Centre for Software Reliability (CSR), Department of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. Enter http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk./ research/csr/.

This research-based British entry focuses on "how to achieve improved levels of dependability from computing systems." CSR highlights its technology transfer meetings, which occur almost monthly, and two three-day conferences annually.

Look for information on CSR programs related to safety-critical systems and metrics here, as well as for links to related research groups in British and European Union universities and clubs for technology transfer.

One of CSR`s continuing projects, established in 1991, is the British Aerospace Dependable Computing Systems Centre. The project supports software reliability and maintainability efforts that are tightly linked with British Aerospace`s needs.

The content of the CSR homepage provides a useful look into European trends in the field.

• CASE vendor list, CASE research group, Department of Computer Science, Florida Atlantic University, http://www.qucis. queensu.ca/Software-Engineering/ vendor.html.

This web site is a simple and potentially powerful tool listing,hundreds of companies that provide software engineering tools. The list includes telephone numbers, postal addresses, and e-mail addresses.

The group that maintains the list has lost its funding, and now relies on companies to volunteer their changes to the list. Even though the homepage provides no evaluations or even descriptions of the tools and companies listed, even a slightly inaccurate list of this information can be useful to software professionals. There are virtually no graphics. The links are numerous and useful.

• Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Software Technology for Adaptable, Reliable Systems (STARS) program. The URL is http://source. asset.com/stars/.

This sophisticated homepage for high-level software professionals advertises DARPA`s wide-ranging projects aimed at improving software quality. It includes information on the three prime contractors in the program-Boeing, Lockheed Martin Federal Systems, and Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems - as well as three service demonstration projects.

One of the best features of this site is the Asset Source for Software Engineering Technology (ASSET), provided by SAIC of Atlanta, Ga. ASSET provides almost 300 programs, tools, technical papers, and reference documents targeted at the needs of software managers.

The content here is broad, deep, and updated frequently. The site includes graphics that are above average. The links are good. Orientation: solving the problems of military software professionals.

For the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) go to http://www.sei.cmu.edu/. This Pittsburgh-based center for computing technology works on funding from the Pentagon and with operations from Carnegie Mellon University. The homepage outlines many of SEI`s cutting-edge efforts to improve the science and art of the field. SEI now is led by Stephen Cross, formerly of DARPA`s Software and Intelligent Systems Technology Office.

One feature of the homepage is a description of the Software Process Improvement Network, which forms regional "SPINs" and sponsors an annual Software Process Engineering Group Conference. The web site includes lists of active and emerging U.S. SPINs as well as emerging international SPINs.

The content is almost essential to operating effectively in military and aerospace systems. SEI`s graphics are detailed, which can slow download speed. For faster service, cancel image downloads. The links here are good. The orientation is right on target for executives concerned about software reliability.

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