A new partnership announced today between enterprise lifecycle management vendor Telelogic and BigLever Software is bridging the areas of model-driven development (MDD) and software product line (SPL) technologies.
The Telelogic Rhapsody/BigLever Gears Bridge solution is a joint development effort to integrate Telelogic's Rhapsody modeling tool and BigLever's Gears SPL product to leverage the productivity benefits of MDD with the portfolio scalability and efficiency gains from SPL. Joint customers of the vendors pushed for the integration, according to both companies.
"We looked at how model-driven development and SPL relate," said Charles Krueger, CEO of BigLever Software in Austin, Texas. "Both are emerging disciplines, but there has not been a huge amount of attention to bring them together. Model-driven development speeds development using a higher level of abstraction, and SPL can engineer portfolios more efficiently. We were getting customer requests in having these types of technologies combined."
According to Melinda Ballou, program director, Application Life-Cycle Management at IDC in Framingham, Mass., "The synergy between BigLever and Telelogic can help users by bringing together the communication and management benefits of model-driven development with software product lifecycle management. Typically, these areas have been distinct. Integrating the two can enable management of evolving, diverse product models and variations, as well as the potential reuse benefits of a combined solution."
While the initial focus of the integration is the embedded software market, Jim McElroy, senior director of channel and business development for Sweden-based Telelogic AB, said the integration of the products is applicable to enterprise software development and the SDLC as a whole. "You're dealing with the same types of problems. This technology [SPL] has gained a lot of interest in the industry," he said.
"Within the embedded systems space software is a key element, and the commercial market is growing significantly," Ballou said. "Software is driving functionality exponentially for devices of all kinds. Management of the product lifecycle in the context of software for these products is becoming business-critical across a broader, commercial market increasingly."
The benefits of SPL
SPL technology allows development organizations to engineering their software product line portfolio as though it is a single system, reusing existing software assets such as requirements, architecture, source code and test cases.
"The idea with SPL is most companies are producing portfolios of their product, so you have the core technology then low, midrange and high-end versions of the product," Krueger said. "Once you get over five to 10 variations, there is a lot of overhead and wasted effort. [SPL] is elevating this to a first-class engineering discipline to make it efficient."
The focus of SPL has been on source code, Krueger said. If developers took advantage of MDD, they had to create copies of the model and then modify each copy for the different variations of a product.
"The problem is, once you create a clone [model] you have to maintain each copy separately; if you fix a bug in one copy you have to fix in it another. There's a lot of duplication," he said.
The other alternative, Krueger said, was to create a model superset. For a cell phone handset, for example, "if you've got a low-end device you have to put this bloated piece of software on it with features it doesn't take advantage of."
With the integration of Gears and Rhapsody, "I can identify variation points in my design to insert different behaviors unique to each product, all done at the model level," McElroy explained. "You can execute and test design decisions throughout the lifecycle using model-driven development. It pulls together all the benefits of model-driven development and SPL to accelerate the development of individual products and product line portfolios; improving quality, reducing the number of defects, and [increasing the] scalability of what they can produce."
Krueger said BigLever's prime competitors are "the old way of doing things" and another SPL company called pure-systems GmbH, based in Germany, with its pure::variants products.
As for Telelogic, which in June received a cash offer from IBM, McElroy said the partnership with BigLever will continue to make sense should Telelogic's shareholders approve the acquisition. "Given the gaps our tools plug in the IBM portfolio, this will make sense in the overall Rational portfolio of products."
According to Ballou, "A differentiation point for Telelogic from IBM Rational is Telelogic's presence in the embedded market, so I see this integration being of interest of course. Model-driven development and requirements are both areas of overlap, so it will be interesting to see how this strategy evolves post-acquisition. If Telelogic decides to integrate additional products with BigLever, and if the acquisition goes through, a decision needs to be made about which additional tools would be integrated [IBM's or Telelogic's]."
The Telelogic Rhapsody/BigLever Gears Bridge is available now at no cost to customers.