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State of Practice Report: Essential Technical and Nontechnical Issues Related to Designing SoS Platform Architectures

May 2015 Technical Report
Sholom G. Cohen, John Klein

This report analyzes the state of the practice in system-of-systems (SoS) development, based on 12 interviews of leading SoS developers in the DoD and industry.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number


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This report presents an analysis of the state of the practice in system-of-systems (SoS) development. SoS architectures, or blueprints for integrating multiple systems based on common software platforms, have been successful in many commercial environments. The report discusses technical issues related to SoS common platform development and adoption in the Department of Defense (DoD) and the nontechnical constraints that must be satisfied. The analysis is based on information captured from 12 interviews of leading SoS developers in the DoD and industry, applying a SoS definition from the literature to identify gaps between the current state and the desired end state. The results of the study show that while commercial and DoD developers follow different approaches, all organizations report nontechnical constraints as more challenging than technical issues. For the DoD, these include leadership changes, shifting political priorities, and difficulty in replacing suppliers. The report recommends further study of SoS planning and agile approaches that better support incremental development; bridging the gap from SoS to system concerns so that system designers understand SoS concerns and can focus on their products in the context of the SoS; and documenting the platform at all software levels, including architecture views and component integration strategies.