Initiative fever

Embedded Tech Trends 2017 wrapped up in New Orleans at a great venue in the heart of the French Quarter right on the infamous Bourbon Street. The agenda was packed with great presentations centered on the theme of “The Voodoo Behind Critical and Embedded Systems.” Many of the presenters had some fun with the theme and entertained us with some great analogies in the voodoo spirit.

The feature “Embedded Tech Trends Wrap-up” goes into detail on the presentations. All of the sessions were video recorded and have been posted. To view the presentations and videos, visit They are worth a look if you are using any . Stay tuned for details on the 2018 edition of Embedded Tech Trends.

The last presentations of the event led to perhaps some of the liveliest discussion. Greg Rocco from MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Patrick Collier of NAVAIR updated the audience on the work going on with several Department of Defense (DoD) initiatives. Program offices are working together to define common ground for technology used in various platforms with high performance computing requirements. These initiatives are looking at all aspects of critical embedded computing from hardware to software. A number of DoD programs are zeroing in on as the architecture of choice.

These initiatives are not a new concept, but have evolved over the past few years. In an idealistic world, having common usage models would be great for technology re-use and development. Many of us in the audience have seen these types of initiatives start and then fade away over the years. Our history with the industry has made skeptics of some of the efforts.

This time it just feels different. We have a new administration that is a total wildcard! is committed to changing the way nearly everything is done. He is bringing a business leader acumen to the presidency that we have never experienced. Matching it against a well-entrenched political establishment is going to be extremely entertaining to observe over the coming years.

President is sending out many signals that bode well for companies in the defense industry. He is pushing for a significant boost in U.S. defense spending, while at the same time asking that NATO nations pick up their “fair share” of defense spending. The U.S. is the largest arms supplier in the world with U.S. companies selling equipment to nations around the globe. Many nations are anticipated to increase their spending on U.S.-made equipment as a result of the Trump administration’s change on global responsibilities. What this means is that the demand will be strong in the coming years.

For the U.S. DoD to stay ahead, they must innovate faster. To do this requires an increased focus on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. To make COTS more practical, it requires interoperability and all of the benefits of open architecture standards. The initiatives underway will see increased pressure to deliver results quickly.

A second observation that I see is the greater desire of the various programs to work together on the platform initiatives. The complexity of today’s systems and platforms make it nearly impossible to go at it alone. The suppliers can’t do it all and the primes need the help, along with innovation from the industry.

In the past, I have talked about strong ecosystems. That has never been more important than at the current moment. A healthy and strong ecosystem is in place ready to move the initiatives forward. The level of collaboration with the programs has never been stronger.

Key individuals like Rocco and Collier are contributing tremendously to the exchange of information that is critical to the initiatives. They need commitment from the entire ecosystem to ensure the success of these initiatives. Based on the level of participation in study and working group meetings, there are a lot of companies interested in seeing these initiatives achieve their goals.

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