Multi-OS Systems Platform
The Problem: Our client had realised that their technology platform solutions were lagging behind the market, and had decided to invest in a strategic play to “leapfrog the competition”. This would involve creating a new Linux-based solution with support for other operating systems, in a multi-domain configuration on new multicore silicon and custom electronics.
Codethink Solution: Codethink was selected as strategic Linux partner and we worked with the client’s team to create the new platform over a period of three years. Our work included architectural design and creation of an advanced custom hypervisor solution, along with delivery of the main Linux-based OS and the supporting environments for QNX, Integrity and Android. In addition we implemented a long-term maintenance approach to reduce the total cost of ownership for the platform.
Business Result: The new platform achieved the desired “leapfrog” effect and allowed our client to demonstrate functionality and performance never seen before on the target silicon.
Development Team Not Required
The Problem: We were approached by a client seeking a software development team to create a cellphone synchronisation service for their online gaming solution. The client clearly considered that this would be a significant engineering project, but was hoping for a solution within six to nine months, to support market launch plans for a new service offering.
Codethink Solution: We investigated potential open source solutions to provide the required functionality, and were able to spin up a demonstration service within hours of the initial discussions with the client. They were able to verify that they could perform the basis of the required sync, that same day. Instead of deploying a team to implement a custom solution, we engaged a single software engineer to work on configuration and integration of the open source solution to work with our client’s planned service.
Business Result: The whole setup and integration of the sync service was achieved within 30 days of effort, which we estimate as a saving of more than 90% versus our client’s budget. The solution was delivered months earlier than the client had expected.
Vendor Tries to Retract Open Source
The Problem: Our client wanted to integrate a virtualized emulator solution into their product. After negotiations with a vendor failed, Codethink was asked to adopt and integrate an open source project which was the basis of the vendor’s commercial offering.
Codethink Solution: Codethink setup a mirror of the required open source project and over several months we completed the integration with our client’s product.
Business Result: The new emulator was demonstrated at our client’s developer hackathon event. As a result, the vendor became aware that our client had adopted their open source software. They attempted to renegotiate with our client by relicensing the software, then removing the repositories from Github, and threatening legal action against our client.
Using our mirror of the source code version control repositories, Codethink was able to provide forensic history of the evolution of the software and its licensing, along with evidence of how the software had been adopted and integrated while fully complying with the license. This defeated the vendor’s spurious claims, and as a result our client was able to easily defeat the threat of litigation.
The 16 Hour Working Day
The Problem: our client, a Tier1 based in Asia, needed to increase the stability and quality of their software deliveries in order to satisfy their customer, an automotive OEM based in Europe. Software build, development and some limited testing activities took place in Asia, before critical testing in Europe, in vehicle. This meant transferring 7GB images every day from Asia to Europe - the transfer process was time-consuming and error-prone.
Codethink Solution: We proposed to reorganise to “follow the sun”, with today’s development and integration from Asia delivered to Europe in time for testing. The approach was accepted, but there were technical roadblocks due to project infrastructure and tooling choices. Identifying network bandwidth and manual steps as major bottlenecks, we deployed open-source tooling to introduce delta-only transfers using binary diffs, and completely automated the delivery process. This immediately cut transfer times in half and made the process reliable. The tooling was deployed in a matter of weeks by a single engineer, as no further development was needed: the solution was mature and already fit for purpose.
Business Result: The solution allowed us to guarantee that images arrived in Europe before the start of the working day, resulting in increased test capacity for multiple test teams of up to 35 FTEs (both Tier1 and OEM), and an overall productivity boost worth millions of euros per year. This allowed us to ‘close the loop’ on the 16 hour working day, as we could triage all testing feedback before the start of the Asian working day. Our solution was then adopted by the Tier1 for use on other projects for other clients.
Unacceptable Security Implications
The Problem: We were asked to assist our client in dealing with a difficult negotiation involving their platform supplier. The supplier was insisting on a security-related change to the trusted boot process for their product, but unfortunately their intended solution would have unacceptable consequences for our client. In particular it would cause storage requirements for every customer device to increase with each variant in the client’s portfolio, and increase the complexity of security configuration for each variant. Short term this would make it much slower and more difficult to update the devices, but in the medium term it would require a significant increase in BoM or other drastic solution as the devices would run out of space.
Codethink Solution: Under time pressure to avoid critical project delays, we designed and developed software to handle the supplier’s new security scheme without affecting our client’s production software packaging. The new program ensured a secure, robust and future-compatible implementation (including full support for A/B system updates, preventing even more wasted space), without the identified difficulties, and avoided severe knock on effects on the production line. We understand that Codethink was the only supplier able to provide a credible solution in the time available.
Business Result: Codethink delivered this solution including scoping, implementation, testing and liaising with platform supplier, within a four week period, at a cost of less than $80,000. We estimate this project allowed our client to avoid downtime costs well in excess of $10M leading to a ROI of more than 120 times the investment.