Dani Mannes, Co-Founder & Chief Architect of ACTL, is absolutely convinced of modelling and the Enterprise Architect Platform: "The Software/Systems Engineering industry knows each other very well and modelling is currently only a niche market in Israel. Mostly, modelling is not yet used as an end-to-end solution, but only selectively. However, since we are absolutely convinced of the possibilities of modelling, we were very happy to get to know LieberLieber. Their product LemonTree provides for the first time a convincing solution for version management, which significantly facilitates modelling in agile and distributed groups in particular!" ACTL Systems in one of the leading Israeli companies in the field of software development methodology. The team, which currently numbers seven, specializes in consulting and training in the field of SW and systems modelling and also has extensive experience in supporting DO178 (Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification) certification.
Dr. Konrad Wieland, CEO of LieberLieber Software: "We are very pleased to have found ACTL Systems as a partner in this new market, a specialist who has been involved in modelling for decades. We are very optimistic that with LemonTree we have a key in our hands to open up the market and to deepen modelling in Israeli companies. We are specifically counting on the wide distribution of Enterprise Architect and the excellence and experience of our partner ACTL."
The architecture is a model expressed with UML/SysML
In Mannes’s experience, agile development teams often focus on sprint-based delivery of user stories and the related working code. Conventional teams, on the other hand, often start development with an intensive architecture and design phase. For him, this raises the question: do architecture and design belong to the past or can architecture modelling and agile work be combined?
According to Mannes, many of ACTL's clients in the defense industry are used to waterfall-based processes. This is often driven by contractual constraints and the perceived need for systems engineers to mitigate risk and manage development at scale through a pre-designed system architecture. However, he says, the reality is that the architecture and blueprints often change when implementation begins, making the architecture and blueprint outdated. Because of these changes, documents such as the System Subsystem Specification (SSS), System Subsystem Design Document (SSDD), Software Requirements Specification (SRS) and the Software Design Document (SDD) have to be rewritten or updated several times to reflect the actual requirements and design. But how can this effort be avoided?
The answer is quite simply, according to Mannes: by seeing architecture as a model expressed with UML/SysML. For him, architecture is a simplified description of both the static and dynamic aspects of the system. It is used for communication in the team, for discussion and as a reference when extending the system. Mannes: "If you want to talk about architecture, what does architecture look like? Well, our answer is that the architecture is a model expressed using UML/SysML. The model also serves as the knowledge base from which the required documents can be generated. And with Lemon Tree the model can be version managed along with the contractually required documents.”
But the model is only a means of communication and not a goal or end in itself. Therefore, he says, the model does not have to describe the complete solution, but only the necessary aspects for:
- Discussion of the current large-scale structure and mechanisms
- Assessing the impact of current decisions
- Ensuring that the different parts of the system are clearly separated and their interfaces well defined, and that the parts together contribute to the current scope of system functionality
Recently, LieberLieber and ACTL jointly held a first webinar, which was very well received. "LemonTree is fundamentally easy to market: Once you've seen it in action, you want it," Mannes is convinced. For him, LemonTree can be compared to Beyond Compare: One tool compares files and folders, the other just versions of a model. "Both tools are incomparable in their domain and offer the highest benefit and comfort for the user. The only thing LemonTree lacks in Israel is awareness, which we now want to rapidly expand as a LieberLieber partner."
Nevertheless, one must realize that the concrete implementation steps for entering version management with LemonTree are not so simple: “For this, active steps are unavoidable, because new work processes have to be defined and introduced." Therefore, it is necessary to support the person in an interested company who is convinced of the advantages of LemonTree and is committed to it. Therefore one of the key tasks for the two companies, he says, is to clearly communicate the benefits of model-based systems engineering (MBSE). "Enterprise Architect users want to be personally addressed and convinced. We have to tell success stories and communicate the effort and benefits of modelling in a very targeted way."
From methods and processes to MBSE
In its two training courses (UML and MBSE/SysML), ACTL primarily teaches methods and processes. Only if the use of tools is explicitly desired, the training is extended accordingly. "We want to slowly introduce interested parties to the topic of modelling and show them where modelling will bring them the most benefits. In this way, we create the basic prerequisites that can then be implemented with tools such as Enterprise Architect and LemonTree."
In MBSE, ACTL currently has two major projects, one of which relies on Enterprise Architect and where LemonTree would also fit in well. "The international INCOSE association is very active in Israel on MBSE. But there is still not enough awareness among companies," says Mannes, who still sees a lot of work ahead of him, which is now to be managed even better together with LieberLieber.
About ACTL Systems
ACTL is a privately held training and consulting company. Our mission is to meet the growing needs for practical guidance in model driven Systems and SW Engineering and DO 178 certification. We help our customers to become master craftsman and develop state of the art, high quality systems within their time and budget constraints trough:
- Introduction of standardized and proven Agile modeling and architecting methodologies and processes
- Goal and results driven training and consulting
- Knowledge transfer using ACTL's proven technology transfer process
More information: www.actl.co.il