Why Virtualization Holds the Key to Application Portability


This week, at the Paris Air Show, new information was released on the cooperation between France and Germany for the next phase of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). At previous announcements on the concepts, the program does not cover just a single aircraft, instead, it is a System-of-Systems that combines future fighter aircraft with unmanned systems (or remote carriers), legacy ground, air and space assets, and advanced networking capabilities through an “Air Combat Cloud”.

It’s just the latest example of how aerospace systems are evolving, bridging new and legacy investments. It’s also a great time to talk about software-defined systems and virtualization as a way of delivering this vision.

New aerospace mission concepts promise to enhance sustainability, robustness, and reliability of current missions by utilizing open, safe, secure, connected and intelligent assets. This new paradigm requires the utilization of several technologies in order to confer flexibility and re-configurability to systems among heterogeneous aircraft, both new and legacy.

Systems that have been in use for decades are now needing to be replaced or upgraded in order to fit into that connected, global vision of systems of systems. They still have functional value, yet the technology around them has advanced, making older architectures obsolete and upgradeability difficult or impossible. This creates a vast gap between existing legacy systems and the future of modernized embedded systems.

Virtualization technologies like Wind River Virtualization Platform can bridge that gap by allowing aerospace manufacturers to evolve their business models to support new technology insertions, such as open source-based applications and new proprietary IP, while reusing legacy IP in new safety-critical systems.

The abstraction layer that it provides separates the functionality from the hardware, allowing a system to be software-defined instead of hardware-defined. This creates a system architecture that is extensible and scalable, which enables new functionality to be developed quickly. Separation or isolation of runtime environments keeps functionality independent, which ensures real-time, deterministic behaviors are not affected by other functionality on the platform. Investment in legacy software is not lost, since it can be re-used alongside new applications.

To learn more about these trends and how cutting-edge technology enables systems of systems that fuse new and legacy capabilities, join our web seminar – The What, Why, and How of Application Portability for Aerospace Systems. In it, Intel, CoreAVI and Wind River walk through a technical overview of virtualized solutions for the aerospace systems of tomorrow.