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System and Software architecting harmonization practices in ultra-large-scale Systems of Systems

01/10/2022
by   Héctor Cadavid, et al.
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Context: The challenges posed by the architecting of System of Systems (SoS) has motivated a significant number of research efforts in the area. However, literature is lacking when it comes to the interplay between the disciplines involved in the architecting process, a key factor in addressing these challenges.Objective: This paper aims to contribute to this line of research by confirming and extending previously characterized architecting harmonization practices from Systems and Software Engineering, adopted in an ultra-large-scale SoS. Method: We conducted a confirmatory case study on the Square-Kilometre Array (SKA) project to evaluate and extend the findings of our exploratory case on the LOFAR/LOFAR2.0 radio-telescope projects. In doing so, a pre-study was conducted to map the findings of the previous study with respect to the SKA context. A survey was then designed, through which the views of 46 SKA engineers were collected and analyzed. Results: The study confirmed in various degrees the four practices identified in the exploratory case, and provided further insights about them, namely: (1) the friction between disciplines caused by long-term system requirements, and how they can be ameliorated through intermediate, short-term requirements; (2) the way design choices with a cross-cutting impact on multiple agile teams have an indirect impact on the system architecture; (3) how these design choices are often caused by the criteria that guided early system decomposition; (4) the seemingly recurrent issue with the lack of details about the dynamic elements of the interfaces; and (5) the use of machine-readable interface specifications for aligning hardware/software development processes.

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