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Feature Creep for Efficiency by Malcolm Weir, Ampex CTO

June 27, 2024

Feature Creep

Malcolm Weir, CTO of Ampex Data Systems, presented “Feature Creep for Efficiency” at ETTC 2024.

The paper explores how project scope additions can enhance functionality through collaboration among customers, end-users, and suppliers. It follows the evolution of a data collection system into a traffic management platform, handling data format conversion, security oversight, command and control, traffic routing, and data collection. Utilizing specialist software on versatile hardware, the system achieved economies of power, mass, and volume, contrasting with the traditional “one box, one function” approach. This presentation provides valuable insights into efficiently incorporating new functionalities.

Abstract: For most project managers, additions to the scope of a project are problematic: not only must the project complete its original goals, but also new ones. While cost is naturally important, perhaps the biggest challenge is adapting the design of a system to incorporate new functionality, which may lead to inefficiency in development and implementation. This paper describes the sequence of scope changes to a data collection system, and how collaboration between the customer, the end-user and the suppliers increased the solution’s functionality as the capabilities expanded. The result is a system that started as a simple data collection device and has evolved into a traffic management system handling data format conversion, security oversight, instrumentation command and control, traffic routing, and, still, data collection. This paper provides insight into the process by which the new functionality was implemented, illustrating how economies of power, mass and volume can be achieved by the use of specialist software running on versatile hardware. That process is in contrast to the more traditional “one box, one function” approach with hardware modules, which is undoubtedly elegant but also less efficient than a software-centric design.”.

Keywords: Data acquisition & networks, Networks & Architecture, Data Management, Applications, Data Management Standards, Security of data, links and networks.

View Malcolm’s presentation as you read through the paper.