CEO challenge
Olga Sinenko, President & CEO, RTSoft, Moscow, Russia
CompactPCI Systems/January-February 2001

Q. How is your company focusing its energy to meet the demands of 2001 that need to be filled in the systems integration industry?

Being a software service provider always demands the ability to find the right solution for customer needs. It requires not only investments, but forecasting the demand according to market trends. At RTSoft, this is not just a marketing cliche, but the core foundation of our business. Meanwhile, the new year will certainly bring several new challenges and drive us to set new goals.

One such challenge is the impact of network-centric architecture as it rapidly changes the landscape of dedicated systems. Today, connectability to the Internet is simply a must. It demands the presence of WEB enabling components, like browsers and Java VM, combined with basic TCP/IP stack. At the same time, every device must be customized to fit into a specific market niche. The goal of RTSoft is to provide a full range of integrated support, ranging from firmware to database connection. For OEM's this means a significantly shorter time-to-market, which is a synonym for success in 2001.

Another challenge is presented by a new generation of network-oriented chips, like the Motorola PowerQUICC™ II or the IDT RC323xx RISController™, which require much more firmware and software support. Even the learning curve for such chips can last several weeks before entering the design phase. Accumulating the extensive experience in this specific area requires a significant investment for the service provider, yet at the same time creates unique opportunities and advantages for the client - primarily, the ability to start a work on a new project immediately.

The rapidly expanding dedicated systems market also creates the need for numerous hardware platforms, tailored to specific tasks, to provide a maximum cost-effective solution for OEM's. This in turn creates a great challenge for hardware manufacturers in providing adequate software support, ranging form board-support packages to porting operating systems (OS's) to selected platforms. Turning to service providers such as RTSoft allows companies to direct their focus on core competencies, and thus provides more benefits to the end user. RTSoft accepts the responsibility to provide extensive software development and support services -- both to the manufacturer and the OEM as needed.

Almost every device today is seeing an increase in software content, and this creates yet another challenge both for the manufacturer/OEM and the service provider. The quality of software and firmware must be paramount. It is no longer possible to merely assign a few engineers for this task. The better solution is to create a dedicated, professional and experienced team that addresses development as a business process, not just as "writing code." For many companies, regardless of size, a dedicated in-house support team will consume valuable company resources, thus slowing down the development. So it is often difficult to create such dedicated in-house engineering teams. At this point it becomes a natural and logical decision to outsource the entire project. However, while contracting a service provider for support issues (normally combined with development tasks) may greatly simplify the client's life, it can also put tremendous pressure on the service provider. Such assignments present a challenge for the software provider, and at the same time demand strict conformance to quality standards to be successful.

The proliferation of the open-source programming model started by LINUX opens the way for many advantages, but it creates global challenges as well. Using such a model demands providing extensive and professional support for clients.

Olga Sinenko,
President & CEO, RTSoft, Moscow, Russia
sinenko@rtsoft.msk.ru