In many cases, the current landscape of development solutions available to the engineering community evolved to address specific engineering challenges that were typically associated with just as specific engineering roles (this dynamic is especially true in embedded engineering organizations). Increasingly, however, the complexity of today’s systems is driving the communication and collaboration between once discrete domains.
As many of you know, tool vendors supporting software and system lifecycle management have been evangelizing this idea for more than a decade. This integration, however, has mostly been between different tools geared specifically at different software development tasks.
Going forward, we anticipate that more organizations will begin trying to take this strategy to the next level by enhancing integrations between different engineering domains (software, hardware, mechanical, silicon, etc.) in order to promote any potential operational efficiencies as well as more comprehensive, high level management of the systems at large. We also believe that the growing importance – and commoditization – of software components is also amplifying this trend as more organizations look for proven methods (such as PLM) for improving management and visibility into their software supply chain.
PTC’s planned acquisition of MKS as well as that by Dassault of Geensys in 2010 underscores this movement of solution vendors looking beyond their native engineering domain into new disciplines. Some source/change/configuration (SCCM) tools, for example, are already used for RTL (Register Transfer Level) and hardware design so the extension of the products to address mechanical and BOM components is not beyond reason, especially as more organizations look for greater visibility into their engineering processes and for ways to maximize asset reuse across their development projects/products. Whereas many engineering organizations are not yet at a stage where they are currently embracing high levels of PLM and ALM/SSLM integration, our research does indicate that many organizations have already begun evaluating it.
Within the embedded domain in particular, we also believe that the ability to manage engineering across multiple domains concurrently will become increasingly critical going forward. Given the compartmentalized and often serial nature of embedded system development, tools that can help organizations accelerate and parallelize as many workflow design tasks as possible (i.e. enable more software development work to be conducted in advance of the finalized hardware designs) should help them make further progress in addressing the shrinking time-to-market windows and project schedules that are becoming a staple of device development.
VDC explores this topic among other industry trends in further detail within its recently published report, Source/Change/Configuration Management Tools, the fourth volume from its Software and System Lifecycle Management Tool research program.