Issue: Jul 2008


Seamless data exchange



by Lenny Case

EXTESSY AG offers a portfolio of five software integration platforms for systems engineers. Their latest product, EXERPT, opens up a new world – seamless data exchange for application.

One of the biggest challenges for developers using requirements management tools is the potential loss of data when using various software tools. This is particularly true of automotive companies who use these tools. To counter this problem, EXTESSY AG, along with some of the leading automobile manufacturers in Germany including Audi AG, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG and Volkswagen AG (together in the HIS consortium), developed a tool that can overcome any such limitations. Called EXERPT (EXtessy Engineering Requirements PlaTform), the product offers a neutral format that provides a framework that allows seamless exchange and synchronization of files in requirements management.

The Requirement Interchange Format or RIF, which is integrated into EXERPT also offers additional plug-ins to connect to test management tools extending its realm of application beyond requirements management. This eliminates further barriers in the development process – between tools and people. Collaboration of all parties involved in the development process is improved and information is synchronized.

“One of EXTESSY´s key features is being close to the customers. Our understanding of partner management is the right way to integrate customers’ processes and methods with various software solutions into a successful package. We see ourselves as the Integration Company,” said Gert Bikker, President of EXTESSY in an earlier interview to AI. With the HIS consortium and EXERPT, EXTESSY continues with this theme. Exploiting the RIF XML format allows users to work more efficiently between tools.

The capabilities of EXERPT can be illustrated using typical examples which EXTESSY and its customers regard as increasingly important in systems engineering.

The Round Trip 

Suppose an OEM and supplier, working together, want to exchange requirements documents in the course of a development project. The OEM uses requirements tool ABC, the supplier requirements tool XYZ. Typically, files from ABC can not be transferred to XYZ (the tools are not compatible). However the OEM can export his ABC-based file via EXERPT to the supplier, who can then receive the RIF-based data via EXERPT and convert it for tool XYZ. The supplier then sees the requirements, as drafted by the OEM, now formatted in tool XYZ. These requirements can then be expanded, edited, saved and returned to the OEM via EXERPT – and the updated, modified requirements document lands formatted back in tool ABC, with changes highlighted. The “round trip” is complete.

Archiving 

Many systems engineers are required, via legislature or company requirements, to archive their work, guaranteeing fast, reliable access to the data over future decades. As software tools are up-dated many times over such a period, upward compatibility of older files becomes a critical issue. Should a tool cease to exist, accessing archived files can become even more critical. EXERPT translates into RIF, a neutral, standardized XML format. EXTESSY customers have seized this opportunity to archive various data files in that format, to ensure long-term accessibility.

Editing 

Files can be sent through EXERPT from one tool to another, but they can also be held in EXERPT, in the RIF. EXTESSY offers simple viewer/editor functionality to access such RIF data. With the off-line client (editor), a systems engineer, performing a test drive, can make changes to the requirements “on the fly”. Once back at his/her desk, the modified data can be exported back into their tool.

Reporting 

EXERPT allows users to create a report format and save it as a template. Reports can then be generated using the template, with any RE/RM tool supported by EXERPT. Reports can also be generated in batch mode, allowing standardization and automation of the reporting process.

Re-Use 

EXERPT promotes re-use of specifications and requirements beyond what most RE/RM tools allow. Requirement templates can be specified and systematically deployed when new projects are started. Complete or partial documents can be re-used directly through EXERPT by filtering information. Also this re-use is possible with any RE/RM tool supported by EXERPT.

The first versions of EXERPT became available to the HIS OEM’s and suppliers in the course of 2007. Customers are presently working with release 1.2. Strong interest from customers and tool vendor partners has motivated EXTESSY to further develop the tool. Early in 2008, in addition to the existing adapters for Telelogic DOORS, imbus TestBench and The MathWorks MATLAB, the EXERPT platform will be opened to users of Borland CaliberRM and Visure IRqA. These new tool adapters will be introduced with EXERPT release 2.0. “That release will offer many improvements beyond those new adapters,” notes Manuel Reis Monteiro, EXTESSY’s Product Manager. “Generally speaking, performance and functionality will take large steps forward.”

Beyond that a roll-out of further adapters is planned, bringing more requirements, test and other tools to the platform. “With our knowledge of the requirements and test tool markets, we have our own ideas about what tools could be brought to the platform,” says André Hauser, Project Manager for EXERPT. “But we will continue to implement tool adapters primarily based on customer requests. Therefore, it’s too early to say exactly what other tools we’ll be bringing to the platform later in 2008.”

Dr. Gesine Schmidt, EXTESSY’s Manager of Commercial Sales, welcomes the expansion of EXTESSY’s customer portfolio with EXERPT. “Our customers have traditionally been in automotive, aerospace and rail. But the need to exchange requirements and other data transcend beyond those verticals, even into service sectors. We see lots of application possibilities already taking shape.”



EXTESSY has been ranked 120 in the 2007 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA – a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa. The rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over five years from 2002-06 – EXTESSY’s growth during this period was 1365 %. The company also ranked 11 on the Germany Technology Fast 50 – a ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology firms in Germany. EXTESSY CEO, William J. Esler, credits the EXTESSY team for its know-how and enthusiasm and the confidence the customers place in EXTESSY for the company´s revenue growth over the past five years.
He explains: “We thank our customers and partners for their trust, as we thank the whole EXTESSY team that made this rate of growth possible through their excellent skills. We are pleased to create a promising future for our customers, partners and colleagues.”
“Making the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 is commendable in today´s highly competitive technology industry,” said Eric Morgain, partner in charge of Deloitte´s Technology Fast 500 EMEA programm.


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