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Reports from the Field on System of Systems Interoperability Challenges and Promising Approaches

March 2010 Technical Report
Carol A. Sledge

In this report, Carol Sledge identifies challenges and successful approaches to achieving system of systems (SoS) interoperability.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number


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This report identifies challenges and some successful approaches to achieving interoperability in systems of systems. Although systems of systems and their interoperability challenges are not limited to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), this report is based on the challenges and successes reported in interviews with various DoD personnel, with assurances of anonymity for those interviewed. Reported challenges and problems far exceeded the number of successes. 

Reported successes with interoperability typically involved: (1) key individuals who had the knowledge, experience, and determination to ensure systems successfully interoperate in particular environments of use in the field; (2) systems incrementally developed and evolved, with continual integration incorporating tests for interoperability issues as they are discovered; or (3) systems of systems of smaller scope, constructed and fielded outside of the usual DoD acquisition program model. 

The information presented in this report does not necessarily represent the opinions of the author or the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute.