Survey: Software development for aerospace & defence – challenged, but modernising

Author : Steve Howard | Static Code Analysis Product Evangelist | Perforce Software

01 February 2021


A recent survey of over 300 aerospace & defence professionals involved in software development highlighted some of the challenges & trends facing engineering teams in these particular industries right now.

The full version of this article was originally featured in the February 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

Carried out by enterprise software development, configuration & lifecycle management specialist, Perforce Software, the survey unearthed some hot topics, including greater adoption of Agile practices and cloud-based technologies, as well as hardware and software teams working together. Here, Steve Howard, Static Code Analysis (SCA) Product Evangelist at Perforce Software reviews some of the biggest concerns facing survey respondents in relation to embedded software development in aerospace & defence.

Security was the biggest concern, with 37% of software developers citing it as their most significant cause of stress. Breaking that down, 31% of those were most worried about unauthorised access to offboard or onboard systems. A further 26% were worried that teams lacked the necessary skills to effectively deal with security threats; and 23% reported that software security testing took too much time. These security concerns are understandable: software development is the point from which many future vulnerabilities originate, opening doors to malicious attacks. And lest we forget: it takes just one security flaw to compromise a whole system, which means that with ever larger and more complex codebases, security teams are constantly facing an uphill struggle.

The second biggest overall area of concern was software quality, with verification and validation activities highlighted as taking up considerable time. The main reasons cited for this were that testing efforts are often not exhaustive enough and it is difficult to enforce coding best practices. The complexity of codebases may also impact quality, and can be exacerbated by legacy and open source code often having to co-exist within the same development environment.

The third largest concern was productivity, coming in at 14%, and attributed to the difficulties of keeping software code reviews on schedule, as well as managing design and IP (intellectual property) assets across software and hardware teams: bringing both together can be difficult, both logistically and culturally.

Read the full article in EPDT's February 2021 issue...

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