A Q&A with Jacques Brygier, VP of Marketing, SYSGO
This interview is the fifth in a series that we have conducted with embedded software solution providers to share their views on their company, products, and state of the market.
has been in the embedded software business for over 20 years; can you briefly
introduce the company to our readers?
Brygier: SYSGO has been providing software solutions for
the embedded market since its foundation in 1991. The company, headquartered in
Mainz, Germany, has developed skills and expertise over the years into two
areas, actually very complementary: industrial embedded Linux and safety and
security certified RTOS. SYSGO has been quite innovative in addressing the
needs of the applications requiring the highest levels of safety and security:
the company was the first to introduce to the market a certified embedded
virtualization solution that is both a full RTOS and a type 1 hypervisor. SYSGO
is primarily addressing the A&D, industrial, transportation, medical and
automotive markets, but the combination of Linux/Android, safety and security
functionality of its offering attracts new customers in industry sectors like
smart energy, high range mobile and even consumers.
recently announced it was acquired by Thales. What does this mean for SYSGO and
Brygier: This is great news for SYSGO! SYSGO remains the
same with just more financial backup to move forward. The company keeps its
identity, management team, full staff, and offices. It is Thales’ willingness
to let SYSGO decide its own growth strategy, including the choice of market
segments Thales is not involved with. We of course have to remain the
technology innovator we are in the key sectors of A&D, transportation, and security,
in order to provide to Thales (and others) the best-of-breed products they need
to be successful. But we are free to continue to address the other markets such
as automotive, medical, industrial, or even consumers when it makes sense.
Thales’ investment is based on the long term. The requirements they have in
terms of product features for their own benefits were part of our roadmap anyway:
we just have more means to speed up their implementation.
are the challenges engineers face today in designing and developing embedded
devices and how are embedded software suppliers responding?
Brygier: More than ever, the embedded systems developers
have to manage a tremendous increase of functionality requirements but keep a
high level of quality at reasonable cost! New software environments like Linux,
Java or Android give access to a wide range of graphics, peripherals, and networking
capabilities. However, even as the hardware platforms become more and more
powerful (thanks to a growing usage of SoCs, multi-core, specialized built-in
devices, etc.), the usual requirement for performance is now combined with a
growing need for more safety and, maybe more importantly for most of the
markets, security. To say it differently, engineers need new ways of
implementing software. That’s probably the reason why we see a growing interest
in our safe and secure virtualization RTOS: having the ability on the same
hardware (I mean processor) to mix real-time and non-real-time, critical and
non-critical applications, legacy and brand new code is very attractive!
flagship product, PikeOS, is a combination of an RTOS and virtualization
platform; Can you explain the concept of PikeOS, and tell our readers what sets
this platform apart from the competition?
Brygier: In the early 2000s, SYSGO decided to develop
its own operating system approach based on the embedded virtualization concept.
After having evaluated different approaches, SYSGO realized that the existing
concepts couldn’t support the highest levels of safety and security requirements
SYSGO’s customers were asking for. The result of this internal development is
the PikeOS microkernel, which today is part of SYSGO’s product portfolio. The
target markets are A&D, industrial automation, automotive, transportation,
medical, smart energy, part of consumer electronics and all sectors requiring a
high level of security. PikeOS enables multiple operating system interfaces to
work on separate sets of resources within a single machine. Because of the
resource separation enforced by the PikeOS microkernel, multiple applications
with different safety and security requirements are able to co-exist in a
single machine. Thus, PikeOS can be regarded as a MILS separation kernel as
well as a hypervisor. Currently, PikeOS can host about ten different operating
system APIs. Among them are ARINC-653, POSIX, certified POSIX, AUTOSAR,
different Java virtual machines, Ada and several popular RTOSes such as Linux
(SYSGO’s ELinOS is a natural choice), Android, RTEMS or iTRON. PikeOS is
certifiable to safety standards like DO-178B/C, IEC 61508, EN 50128, or ISO
26262, and is currently involved in various security standard CC EAL
What makes PikeOS different, besides the fact
it has no legacy baggage (making it easy to use), is that it is a) truly
processor agnostic, supporting a very wide range of processors and not relying
on any specific hardware feature but able to use it if needed (I’m thinking
about the use of hardware virtualization to manage multicore, for example), b)
built on a single set of core components (no derived version or specific flavor
depending on the nature of the application such as non certified or certified,
safety oriented or security oriented, cost sensitive, resources constrained or
large and complex systems), c) offering the widest range of Personalities of
the market (12), and d) the first “hypervisor” certified DO-178B, IEC61508 and
recently released the latest version of your industrial grade Linux platform,
ELinOS; How would you describe the state of the embedded Linux market today?
Brygier: We see an increasing demand for Linux
functionality in almost all markets. There is a low but steady rate of growth.
Our focus is industrial Linux, a distribution that minimizes the side effect of
open source software (potential issues of liability, lack of control, roadmap
visibility, documentation, etc…) and offers a ready to use, qualified and
well-packaged solution. I don’t know if this gives you an idea of the Linux
market but I can tell you that almost half of our PikeOS users are using the
Linux Personality. Our understanding is that we cannot make Linux safe and
secure but thanks to PikeOS we can make its usage in a system safe and secure.
also provides support for safety & security certifications, two areas that
have begun to converge in recent years; what is the relationship between safety
and security, and what are some of the challenges engineers face as they pursue
Brygier: In terms of objectives, safety is quite
different from security: one aims at removing any bugs while the other one
tries to prevent any hostile attack. But they share in common the fact that
they are required in a growing number of systems, increasingly in a jointly
manner. There are some features/attributes PikeOS offers that apply to both
areas: strict partitioning, controlled communications, availability of system
resources, etc. If you combine the rigorous development process of DO-178B
Level A and the formal verification of the microkernel, you tend to have a
pretty good piece of software. But, even if they share some aspects of the
evidence to be provided to comply with their respective standards, the
certification process is quite different in spirit and in ways to assess the
compliancy. For safety certification, engineers have a set of guidelines that
are now quite familiar and easier to handle when you have some experience. A
security certification requires first identifying your assets, the threats you
envision and the adverse actions the threats can use to harm your assets. In a
sense, the objectives must be very specific. The way for the accredited lab to
challenge your equipment depends of course on your security objectives but is
mostly not known by you. This explains why the timeline of a high level of
security validation is usually more difficult to estimate.
VDC: Thank you, Jacques.
Interested in participating in VDC’s “The Embedded Software Beat” series of interviews? Please reach out and let us know.
Jacques Brygier has spent more than 20 years in the business
of high technology and computer science where he has acquired a deep knowledge
of the software industry, its evolution and its main application fields. He has
been more specifically involved in the development of mission-critical and
safety critical software solutions. His primary focus has been embedded and
real-time applications. Jacques obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science in University
of Lille, France and then joined Alsys to work on Ada compilers and produce the
first Ada products available on the market. After working in different
technical positions, he obtained his degree in International Marketing and
Business in Minneapolis, USA. As the Marketing Director for Aonix, Jacques
spent 5 years in San Diego, USA, developing and promoting software development
tools before returning to France where he took the position of VP Sales for 3
years. He then became VP Marketing with worldwide responsibility for product
strategy, product management and marketing communication. Jacques joined SYSGO
in February 2007 to initiate and lead Product Management and Strategy. As VP
Marketing he is in charge of all global marketing activities. His main task is
to develop the SYSGO portfolio that includes the safe and secure virtualization
RTOS platform PikeOS and the Industrial Grade Embedded Linux ELinOS.