Framework for Analyzing Versioning and Technical Debt
Systems Engineering and Systems Management Transformation
Report Number: SERC-2018-TR-120
Publication Date: 2018-12-21
Project: Framework for Analyzing Versioning and Technical Debt
Dr. Ye Yang
Dr. Jon Wade
Many Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) require arrays of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components, both hardware and software. COTS components have their independent, rapid upgrading cycles. The frequent upgrading of COTS components is one of the root causes for many obsolescence headaches in long-lived CPS from domains such as space, defense, and avionics systems. Most existing studies addressing COTS obsolescence issues have strong emphasis on the sustainment phases. We have identified a gap on methods, processes, and tools for effective COTS risk analysis in the early systems acquisition phases. To fill the gap, this study proposes a taxonomy of COTS-related technical debts in order to support early identification, communication, and assessment of obsolescence risks in CPS system engineering life cycles. It starts with a literature review and synthesize on existing OM work, and contributes to the identification of seven key types of COTS technical debt according to systematic signs discoverable during early COTS activities, which may contribute to obsolescence in later phases. These seven types of COTS technical debt include COTS functionality mismatch, performance mismatch, interoperability difficulty, versioning frequency, documentation and support readiness, and limitation on system evolution. It is expected that such notions will help to increase the efficiency of COTS-based CPS development, readiness, and sustainment, through more informed COTS decision-making and readily-informed and focused-visibility of associated cost-centric obsolescence issues in expedited systems acquisition phases to avoid expensive and unaffordable obsolescence issues in the envisioned systems sustainment phases.