Diverse information technology systems that pool their resources and capabilities together to create a new, more complex system offering additional utility and performance are known as Systems of Systems (SoSs). Tying such discrete systems together in this approach creates a benefit which is more than the sum of the independent components.
Like most field deployed software, SoSs must be tested and validated prior to use and during their installed life. For standalone applications, this is done by modeling and simulation (M&S). The DoD requires M&S in defining, developing, testing, producing, and sustaining these implementations in all possible configurations. This requirement gets very difficult to implement when elevated from independent systems to SoSs. Discrete applications may work perfectly on their own or in simple combinations but may not play well with others in a SoS architecture. Certainly, M&S can be developed for SoSs but to date, performance has suffered when changes are made to the underlying component systems or new system components are added. All of this results in high costs for any changes or additions to this SoS framework.
To address the M&S issues with SoSs Navy researchers have developed the Orchestrated Simulation through Modeling (OSM) framework to model and simulate SoSs prior to and during their operational deployment. The framework allows connection of simulations of underlying component systems together, without having to change the framework or the component simulations each time. The system uses swappable experimental frames and simulators that allow for changing of the objectives (scenarios or experiment data) and changing the simulation types without changing the other elements in the simulation.
The OSM framework is model agnostic and enables the integration and execution of multiple independently developed models. It uses plug-ins as a method of putting all the components together and it facilitates the development of a rich set of re-usable plug-ins by providing examples of plug-ins already developed as part of its developer’s toolkit (these can be thought of like a user’s guide to developing a SoS simulation). The approach allows for the sharing and tying together of models from separate organizations to create a SoS simulation.
OSM provides a methodology that fills the M&S void by letting different aspects of the M&S models interact independently of the centralized aspect of the system while concurrently providing a simplified protocol of information exchange to the system as a whole. In other words, OSM enables the M&S to better emulate how models interact with each other and as a whole by allowing computer architectures the flexibility of imposing communication standards and protocols at a level that better reflects true interface information exchanges.
- Software architecture has a great advantage over the current approaches because it supports swappable and configurable components to make simulation possible over different models and parameters without costly reprogramming
- Can identify behavior that emerges from the interactions among the component systems in the simulation, termed as emergent behavior
- Allows capabilities where many users can develop individual systems, tie them together, replace old modules, build new ones, and let the system of systems naturally evolve with very little communication throughout the community
- US patent 9,514,254 available for license
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