Challenges to Making Software Engineering Research Relevant to Industry

I just attended FSE 2016, a leading academic conference on software engineering research. As is en vogue, it had a session on why so much software engineering research seems so removed from reality. One observation was that academics toil in areas of little interest to practice, publishing one incremental paper of little relevance after another. Another observation was that as empirical methods have taken hold, much research has become as rigorous as it has become irrelevant.

My answer to why so much software engineering research is irrelevant to practice is as straightforward as it is hard to change. The problem rests in the interlocking of three main forces that conspire to keep academics away from doing interesting and ultimately impactful research. These forces are:

  • Academic incentive system
  • Access to relevant data
  • Research methods competence

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An Example Charter for Inner Source Programs

Abstract: Inner source software development is firm-internal software development that uses the principles of open source software development to collaborate across intra-organizational boundaries that would otherwise hinder any such collaboration. Inner source breaks down the barriers to collaboration across development silos by setting up an internal ecosystem of readily available software components. To get started with inner source, companies need to define their goals and then set up a governance structure for an inner source program and the projects within to reach those goals. This governance structure is often codified in the form of a charter document. This technical report presents an example charter for an inner source program. The goal is for companies to be able to copy and adjust this charter for their own needs. Towards this purpose, the charter leaves open the many decisions to be made, but outlines the options that any company needs to decide upon when establishing an inner source program.

Keywords: Inner source, inner source charter

Reference: Riehle, D. (2016). An Example Charter for Inner Source Programs. Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Dept. of Computer Science, Technical Reports, CS-2016-05, August 2016.

The paper is available as a PDF file.

Inner Source in Platform-based Product Engineering

Abstract: Inner source is an approach to collaboration across intra-organizational boundaries for the creation of shared reusable assets. Prior project reports on inner source suggest improved code reuse and better knowledge sharing. Using a multiple-case case study research approach, we analyze the problems that three major software development organizations were facing in their product line engineering efforts. We find that a root cause, the separation of product units as profit centers from a platform organization as a cost center, leads to delayed deliveries, increased defect rates, and redundant software components. All three organizations assume that inner source can help solve these problems. The article analyzes the expectations that these companies were having towards inner source and the problems they were experiencing in its adoption. Finally, the article presents our conclusions on how these organizations should adapt their existing engineering efforts.

Keywords: Inner source, inner source foundation, product-line engineering, software platforms, engineering productivity

Reference: Riehle, D., Capraro, M., Kips, D., & Horn, L. (2016). Inner Source in Platform-Based Product Engineering. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering vol. 42, no. 12 (December 2016), 1162-1177.

The paper is available as a PDF file.

Das Uni1 Projektkonzept (2016)

Abstract: Die­ses Pro­jekt­kon­zept schil­dert, wie Hoch­schu­len mit Unter­neh­men Pro­jekte mit Stu­die­ren­den zu beid­sei­ti­gem Gewinn durch­füh­ren kön­nen. Unter­neh­men pro­fi­tie­ren durch Recruit­ing, Out­sour­cing und Inno­va­tion („ROI“), wel­che sich durch die Pro­jekte erge­ben. Hoch­schu­len gewin­nen neue Part­ner, ver­die­nen an den Pro­jek­ten und bie­ten attrak­ti­vere Lehre.

Keywords: Industrie-Hochschul-Kooperation, Forschungstransfer, Geschäftsmodell

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “Das Uni1 Projektkonzept (2016).” Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Dept. of Computer Science, Technical Report, CS-2016-04. Erlangen, Germany, 2016.

The paper is available as a local PDF file and also on FAU’s OPUS server.

See also the Uni1 website.

That New Agile Delivery Terminology

Old New
Engineering Manager Delivery Lead
Director of Engineering Delivery Head
Vice President of Engineering Delivery Hero

I see a trademark conflict brewing… (not really, trademarks are scoped by domain, there probably is little confusion between a retail service and a corporate role).

How to Benefit From Open Source

Title: How to Benefit from Open Source

Presenter: Dirk Riehle

Institution: SAP Research, SAP Labs LLC

Abstract: Open source is changing the game of how software is built and how money is made. This talk analyzes the economics of open source software from three main perspectives: The system integrator perspective, the start-up firm perspective, and the individual software developer perspective. A focus is on the distinction between community open source and commercial open source, and how the different stakeholders use different approaches to win in the market, e.g. to gain market share or to keep a job. The dual-license strategy is explained as well as why committers to important open source software projects can expect a higher salary. The talk shows how every stakeholder can benefit and thereby explains why open source is here to stay.

Event/location: Software Engineering Today 2008 (SET 2008) in Zurich, May 6-7th 2008