Author: Daniel Toohey, Fellow, Chief Technologist, Mercury Systems
(from Oct. 9, 2021 VITA 46.11 Standards Updates)
When the ANSI/VITA 46.11-2015 System Management for VPX standard was released, following an initial 18-month trial-use period, adoption of the standard was in its infancy. Limited numbers of VPX product suppliers, beyond those highly involved in the standard’s creation, offered compliant solutions to the market.
Adjacent and/or higher-level standards, beyond ANSI/VITA 65 (VPX), were only starting to evaluate their ability and desire to leverage the standard. VPX product suppliers and integrators were in the early process of discovering and deciding how the standard could and should best be used to solve broad industry challenges.
Then in 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act mandated the use of the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) in major DoD acquisitions by 2019.
MOSA’s Roots in VPX
MOSA has been succinctly defined as “an integrated business and technical strategy to achieve competitive and affordable acquisition and sustainment over the system life cycle”. MOSA drove industry integrators toward architectures and system/subsystem implementations that built upon well-defined and widely accepted standards, like those developed by the VITA Standards Organization (VSO).
Inspired by MOSA directives, the DoD created higher-level system and subsystem standard suites, including Hardware Open Systems Technologies (HOST) and the Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA), which each leveraged VPX and VITA 46.11.
Those working on higher-level standards identified opportunities for increased MOSA support in their efforts through the definition of new or optional capabilities and features of the pre-existing VITA 46.11 standard, as required for compliance. Realizing that a set of increased capabilities and features would benefit all VITA 46.11 adopters, the VITA 46.11 working group reconvened to produce the next revision of the standard.
Collaboration Means Quick Revision Adoption
Building upon the pre-existing tiered capabilities and features framework of VITA 46.11, the working group decided to address these changes primarily through the creation of new Tier definitions for the IPMC and Chassis Manager (known asTier-3). The opportunity to open the standard also allowed the working group to address areas requiring additional clarity and updates due to technology changes as well as implementation findings by the community of VITA 46.11 practitioners.
Unlike the first revision, which took over six years to vet within the working group and complete, the update effort took only two years, even in the midst of a global pandemic. This could only be achieved with strong leadership within the VITA 46.11 working group and the VSO, timely guidance from the integrator/user community, and incredible collaboration within a committed VITA 46.11 supplier/vendor community.
These devoted advocates for VITA 46.11 expended significant energy and countless hours on this latest release, which lives up to the original vision and collaboration upon which this standard was initially built.
Future Developments Span Several Innovations
VITA 46.11 has grown significantly from its original back-of-a-napkin conception at a VITA Face to Face (F2F) meeting many years ago. Its adoption now spans more than 70 VPX product suppliers with compliant VITA 46.11-enabled products.
This latest revision of VITA 46.11 is well equipped to enable the near-term goals of in-process and established industry MOSA system-level standards and thus, it is expected that the number of vendors with compliant VITA 46.11 implementations will continue to grow.
However, as the realization of additional MOSA solutions arises and new technologies like 5G, heterogeneous system-in-package (SiP) integration, and AI/ML enable more capable systems at the computing edge, the need to enhance the common manageability of these systems will continue to increase. So, as was the mindset at the time of the initial VITA 46.11 release…it feels as if the journey has only just begun.
I’m looking forward to industry adoption of this revision and the eventual feedback that will drive the revisions to follow.
 “Modular Open Systems Approach Considerations Impacting Both Acquirer and Supplier Adoption, https://www.incose.org/docs/default-source/midwest-gateway/events/ndia_mosa_whitepaper_final_20200701.pdf, July,1 2020