Friday, February 06, 2009

US military launches website to cut software development time from years to weeks

The US's Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has launched the site supporting software developers to collaborate online in developing open-source software for engineering applications.

The goal is to cut software development cycles from years to weeks, saving costs and improving time to market enormously.

Reported in Nextgov in the article, Defense launches online software development site,
The collaborative open source software development site, called, is modeled on the widely used SourceForge open source Web site, which provides Defense software engineers with the environment and tools to create Defense software for engineering applications in weeks, rather than the years it usually takes, David Mihelcic, the agency's CTO, told the monthly meeting of the Washington Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

The site, launched on 23 January, has already delivered its first software package.

This type of approach and application to software development is not new. Linux and similar systems in widespread use were developed in this type of collaborative, fast iteration environment.

Any organisation or administration capable of stealing the jump on others by speeding their software development cycles by a factor of ten or more is likely to have a large competitive advantage into the future.

In fact I'd go so far to say that in the future those who do not adopt this more cost-effective method of software development are likely to find themselves losing ground to more highly evolved organisations and nations.

imagine the efficiencies of having a whole-of-government collaborative software development site where developers across agencies could share code and coding techniques, evolving whole-of-government standards and supporting each other in developing better software and systems for a variety of government departments.

Simply the ability to reuse code developed by other agencies would save government millions. The potential of incorporating major non-government partners into the mix on specific projects would add even more to the value.

Certainly security would be a consideration, however the systems exist to manage this effectively and policies and processes could be placed around such a vehicle to reduce risks of inappropriate code escaping into the wild.

Clearly, with the US Military leading the way, this isn't simply a pipedream, it's an important strategy for future survival.

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