Definition: Systems integration is the composition of a capability by assembling elements in a way that allows them to work together to achieve an intended purpose.
Keywords: acquisition, capability, people, process, program, reward, solution, SoS, system of systems, systems integration
Systems integration creates a mission capability by composing subcomponents of the capability. It is the logical next step between design and development, and testing, verification, validation, and deployment. Always important, integration is increasingly critical to success as the programs MITRE supports migrate to service-oriented, composable-capability architectures.
After components are developed, they must be integrated together with or in the environment in which they are expected to operate. The assembled system is then tested to verify that it performs in accordance with its requirements.
There are different forms of integration. "Vertical" integration is when the components of a system, developed by a single acquisition program, are integrated to produce the desired capability. "Horizontal" integration creates new capabilities across individual systems developed by different acquisition programs. Often, the individual systems were originally developed for different customers and purposes. One of the first government resources available on engineering these types of systems is the Systems Engineering Guide for Systems of Systems .
MITRE SE Roles & Expectations: MITRE systems engineers are expected to identify integration and interoperability challenges and create integration strategies that meet the business/mission needs of end-users and their stakeholders. MITRE systems engineers develop and evaluate integration and interoperability options and observe and assess integration testing. The systems engineer is expected to address integration and interoperability issues associated with the system, including technical, programmatic, social, and business dimensions.
Articles in This Topic
Key aspects of systems integration include (1) identifying and assessing integration and interoperability (I&I) challenges, (2) developing and evaluating I&I solutions, (3) assessing integration testing approaches, and (4) interface management.
The article Identify and Assess Integration and Interoperability (I&I) Challenges describes the dimensions of integration and interoperability, the systems engineer's role in addressing them, and best practices and lessons learned in recognizing and evaluating their challenges.
Once the I&I challenges are understood, the systems engineer is expected to develop and evaluate strategies to address them, and recommend a way forward. The article Develop and Evaluate Integration and Interoperability (I&I) Solution Strategies discusses the second half of the thread from I&I challenges to solutions. Read the articles together to understand the entire challenge-to-solution thread.
Integration testing often poses significant challenges. The article Assess Integration Testing Approaches discusses the problems associated with testing approaches, suggests possible testing strategies and when integration testing, system-of-system testing, or other approaches are appropriate for a program.
Managing interfaces also presents special challenges to systems integration. The article Interface Management discusses general principles and best practices of managing interfaces, with special attention to doing so in a complex, interconnected, service-based enterprise, where the consequences of interface decisions can have significant ripple effects.
For complex integration environments, read the article, Systems Engineering Strategies for Uncertainty and Complexity, in the Enterprise Engineering section in this Guide.
References & Resources:
- Director, Systems and Software Engineering, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology), August 2008, Systems Engineering Guide for System of Systems, Version 1.0, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), Department of Defense (DoD), Washington, DC. http://www.acq.osd.mil/se/docs/SE-Guide-for-SoS.pdf
Additional References & Resources:
CMMI Product Team, November 2007, "CMMI® for Acquisition," Version 1.2.
Dahmann, J. S., J. Lane, and G. Rebovich, Jr., November 2008, "Systems Engineering for Capabilities," CrossTalk—The Journal of Defense Software Engineering.
Hybertson, D. W., 2009, Model-Oriented Systems Engineering Science, New York: Taylor & Francis.
Improving processes for acquiring better products and services, Technical Report CMU/SEI-2007-TR-017, ESC-TR-2007-017, Software Engineering Institute (SEI), Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
Kelley, M., and R. Kepner, August 2008, Achieving Effective Results in Acquisition – Guidelines for Recommended Action, The MITRE Corporation.
White, B. E., May 12-15, 2008, "Complex Adaptive Systems Engineering (CASE)," 8th Understanding Complex Systems Symposium, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, IL.
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