The Adoption of Operational Technologies in Simulation

Simulation and Operational Technologies have historically evolved in isolation and with very little cross-fertilization. This has led to a divergence of technologies and skills along with the necessity for ad hoc integration of simulation and operational systems.

This situation is rapidly changing due to a convergence of the simulation community towards operational technologies such as the Object Management Group’s (OMG) Data Distribution Service for Real-Time Systems (DDS). In this blog post I will summarize the motivations behind this convergence and provide quantitative indications, when data is available, of the induced benefits.

Performance and Scalability. Simulation technologies such as High Level Architecture (HLA), Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS), Test and Training Enabling Architecture (TENA) have proven to be the bottleneck when building advanced real-time simulations or large-scale simulations. Performance and scalability is one of the top reasons why several simulation groups across large systems integrators, as well as companies specializing in simulation, have adopted DDS as their underlying data bus.  Performance improvements have been measured up to a factor 2x while through adopting the DDS fully distributed architecture they have achieved linear scalability!

Integration with Operational Systems. With the rising importance of co-simulation it becomes critical that simulations and operational systems can seamlessly interact. This means two things. First, it should be possible to  “inter-connect” the simulated and the real systems without having to develop specific adaptors. Second, the simulated system should  “keep the pace” of the operational system. As DDS is a mandated standard for several operational systems, the convergence towards DDS eliminates the need for bridging – thus eliminating the cost of integration. In addition this convergence provides users with a level of performance that is compatible with operational systems and a plug-and-play co-simulation architecture.

Market and Vendors. The operational technology market is bigger and more competitive than the simulation market, as such it provides higher quality technology at more modest prices when compared with the niche simulation market. In addition the number of vendors of DDS along with the number of Open Source offerings surpasses by several times that of a typical simulation standard or technology. This competitive scenario is thus more favorable to the user (please refer to the Porter Five Forces Scheme http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porter_five_forces_analysis) as it increases bargaining power and lowers the overall cost of software procurement throughout its lifetime. In addition, the competitive landscape means that vendors need to continually innovate in order to gain market share thus providing end-users with top-notch technologies and tools.

Skills and Productivity. Another important reason why companies are converging toward Operational Technologies is because it is easier for them to find and retain competent engineers as well as to more easily reassign their workforce. In addition, operational technologies such as DDS have proven to improve the productivity, over technologies such as HLA, by 2-3x for just the development phase.

For those interested in some futher technical details, the following resources are are available:

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