On Wednesday, it will be exactly ten years since I joined Wind River.
I was thinking about this on
my flight to San Francisco on Saturday, and as well as wondering how I long I've spent watching the VxWorks boot loader counting down to zero on the serial console over the years, I was also reminiscing about my early days with the company.
In many ways, it doesn't feel like a decade (as they say: time flies when you're having fun).
This is the longest that I've worked for a company, and I was thinking about what it is that keeps me so interested and motivated in my job.
It's hard to put into words, but I have to admit that I really enjoy being at the cutting edge, observing the continual technological advances,
not just for technologies' sake (although I admit to being a technophile), but in order to work out these can be applied to real world applications
to meet customer requirements and solve their problems.
I started at Wind River in 2000, just before the dot com boom turned into the dot com crash, which many people would rather forget, but this was still a significant point when Internet connectivity was starting to spread from the Enterprise arena into the outside world. In my own
area of specialization, Aerospace & Defense, IP-based networking was only just starting to replace stove pipe systems, but the
adoption of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies was fragmented and interoperability hindered by a lack of standardization. This
made presented an unwanted challenge of developing a solutions stack for programmes.
Ten years on, I'm not so naive as to claim that things are now perfect, but the widespread adoption of open standards and open architectures in recent years is providing programmes with a range of interoperable implementation options, increasing choice and flexibility, and also resulting in lower
risk for long term support and managed obsolescence.
I've also noticed that embedded devices have become a lot smarter in the last decade, passive remotely controlled devices are now being superseded by intelligent semi-autonomous and even fully-autonomous systems which are capable of flying UAVs and even aircraft without a pilot (see previous blog: Airborne Control of UAV Swarms). A lot of this has only become possible due to the massive increase in processor performance in relation
to power dissipation (especially in airborne systems, and with the advent of multicore processors this provides even greater potential for exploitation).
I wonder whether in ten years time we will have seen the introduction of autonomous commercial aircraft, maybe for cargo initially?
The Internet has become all-pervasive, and we now rely on IP-based networking for everything from communication between desktop computers, multimedia broadcast, through to critical national infrastructure. This presents new challenges in terms of increased cybersecurity threat due to the inter-connectivity of networks and some of the IPv4 protocols were not designed with security in mind. However, the deployment of IPv6 and the on-going developments of processor hardware virtualisation support and provably secure implementations of the Multiple Independent Levels of Security
(MILS) will provide the foundations for secure robust systems which can mitigate this threat and more besides.
A decade on, the future still looks exciting.