24 June 2010

Competitiveness from structuring of AUTOSAR applications

AUTOSAR 4.0 was released some time ago, and in certain areas it was a major update compared to version 3.1 of the standard. Besides the changes to the Basic Software one of the things I think may have a great impact when it comes to sourcing software from suppliers are the results from the 10.x work packages that deals with application interfaces (i.e. interfaces of the software components above the RTE).

In my mind structuring the applications and standardising their interfaces pretty much defined what quality attributes ("-ilities") the software would have, especially when it comes to "Evolution qualities, such as testability, maintainability, extensibility and scalability, which are embodied in the static structure of the software system" to quote wikipedia. So with the OEM-supplier relationships that most vehicle manufacturers have and with the static structure standardised by AUTOSAR it would be almost impossible to compete with the "-ilities above. So how does one use AUTOSAR and "cooperate on standards, compete on implementation"?

I got the answer in a paper by Simon Fürst et al. presented at 14th International VDI Congress Electronic Systems for Vehicles 2009 in Baden-Baden.
"In general, applications are the competitive edge of an ECU. AUTOSAR is not going to standardize the functional internal behavior of an application (e.g. algorithms, optimization) but the content exchanged between applications. This clarifies the exchange of applications between the automotive community, from OEM to suppliers as well as supplier to supplier and so forth."

So competitiveness is "only" achieved by algorithm optimisation? A typical control engineer's viewpoint and not a software engineer's? This means that an OEM can only distinguish itself from the competitors by run-time qualities and not by qualities such as evolvability or testability?

Do I even need to say that this is my personal opinion based on the teaching I do in software architecture and does not necessarily reflect my colleagues' opinions or the company I work for.

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