Defining Standards: VITA 46.11: System Management on VPX

VITA recently published the ANSI/VITA 46.11-2022 “System Management on VPX” standard, a revision of the first edition published in 2015. As critical embedded computing systems have become extremely complex, system management is imperative. The industry is quickly adopting this capability into critical components of computing systems.

At the time the ANSI/VITA 46.11-2015 System Management for VPX standard was released, following an initial 18-month trial-use period, adoption of the standard was in its infancy. Only limited numbers of VPX product suppliers, beyond those highly involved in the standard’s creation, offered compliant solutions to the market. Adjacent and/or higher-level standards, beyond ANSI/VITA 65 (VPX), were only starting to evaluate their ability and desire to leverage the standard. VPX product suppliers and integrators were in the early process of discovering and ultimately deciding how the standard could and should best be used to solve broad industry challenges.

In 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act mandated the use of a modular open systems approach (MOSA) in major U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquisitions by 2019. MOSA has been succinctly defined as “an integrated business and technical strategy to achieve competitive and affordable acquisition and sustainment over the system life cycle”.1 MOSA drove industry integrators toward architectures and ultimately system/subsystem implementations that built upon well-defined and widely accepted standards like those developed by the VITA Standards Organization (VSO).

Inspired by MOSA directives, the DoD created higher-level system and subsystem standards suites like Hardware Open Systems Technologies (HOST) and the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA), which each leveraged VPX and VITA 46.11. Those working on these higher-level standards identified opportunities for increased MOSA support in their efforts if pre-existing VITA 46.11 optional and/or new capabilities and/or features were redefined/defined as required for compliance. Realizing that the set of increased capabilities and features would be beneficial to all VITA 46.11 adopters, the VITA 46.11 working group reconvened to produce the next revision of the standard.

Building upon the pre-existing tiered capabilities and features framework of VITA 46.11, the working group decided to address these changes primarily through the creation of new Tier 3 definitions for the IPMC and Chassis Manager. The opportunity to open the standard also enabled the working group to address areas requiring additional clarity and/or updates due to technology changes and/or implementation findings by the community of VITA 46.11 practitioners. Unlike the first revision, which took over six years to vet within the working group and complete, the update effort took only two years even while working during a global pandemic. Such a condensed time frame could only be achieved with strong leadership within the VITA 46.11 working group and the VSO, timely guidance from the integrator/user community, and incredible collaboration within a committed VITA 46.11 supplier/vendor community.

These devoted advocates for VITA 46.11 expended significant energy over countless hours on this latest release, which lives up to the original vision and spirit of collaboration upon which this standard was initially built.

Adoption of VITA 46.11 has grown significantly from its original “back of a napkin” conception day at a VITA meeting many years ago. More than 70 VPX product suppliers have compliant VITA 46.11 enabled products. This new revision of VITA 46.11 is well-equipped to enable the near-term goals of in-process and established industry MOSA system-level standards; thus, it is expected that the number of vendors with compliant VITA 46.11 implementations will continue to grow. However, as the realization of additional MOSA solutions arises and new technologies like 5G, heterogenous system-in-package (SiP) integration, and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) enable more capable systems at the computing edge, the need to enhance the common manageability of these systems will continue to increase. So, as we stated at the time of the initial VITA 46.11 release: It feels as if the journey has only just begun.

The working group dedicated to this effort is looking forward to industry adoption of this revision and the eventual feedback that will drive the revisions to follow.

The VITA 46.11 System Management on VPX standard is available for purchase at the VITA online store at www.VITA.com.

Reference

1 “Modular Open Systems Approach Considerations Impacting Both Acquirer and Supplier Adoption, https://www.incose.org/docs/default-source/midwest-gateway/events/ndia_mosa_whitepaper_final_20200701.pdf, July,1 2020.

Daniel Toohey is a Fellow, Chief Technologist, Mercury Systems; the VITA 46.11 Working Group Chairman; and SOSA System Management Subcommittee Lead.