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Major Defense Contractor

Major Defense Contractor Converts from Open-Source ORB to ORBexpress in a Single Weekend

Objective: While developing a software-defined radio for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), a major defense contractor ran into some hurdles. JTRS use the Software Communications Architecture (SCA), which is a standard created by the U.S. Department of Defense. Because the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is a key component of the SCA, the defense contractor needed a CORBA middleware solution to handle inter-process communication between the radio’s components.

It was at the CORBA level that trouble arose for the defense contractor. The software development team found that the open-source Object Request Broker (ORB), on which it had based its design, was causing testing failure. While originally attracted to the benefits of open-source source software—which is free of charge, documented and allows legions of developers to continually refine source code—the team saw these potential benefits quickly erode. Their initial savings in money and time soon disappeared when their open-source ORB created unforeseen problems, and they realized that using a tool that is in a constant state of flux can cause instability.

The team’s already short deadline was now looming. They had a choice to make: either battle the code or switch to another ORB which supported open-standard API’s. The team decided to switch ORBs, turning to Objective Interface Systems and its ORBexpress® product.

Method: When the development team received the ORBexpress product, they had less than a week to make the conversion and get the system tested and ready for a demonstration to their customer. They fully expected many problems resulting from code conversion, involving code transference, numerous recompiles and new calls. However, they met with only a few minor problems involving some exception handling, since most of the code written for the SCA under the open-source ORB was both hardware and operating system independent. ORBexpress had no problems with the code conversion. As a high-performance, real-time middleware solution based on Real-time CORBA, ORBexpress was able to meet the development team’s needs in record time.

Result: The defense contractor’s development team converted its code from an open-source ORB to ORBexpress —without changing the SCA code—in a single weekend. They were able to deliver an extremely high-performance K-band mobile radio, compliant with the JTRS SCA, to their customer on schedule. Despite the development team’s initial concerns about the performance and code size of CORBA solutions, they were “pleasantly surprised.” Not only did ORBexpress meet their most rigorous real-time performance requirements, it also proved far leaner then expected, occupying only a small footprint in their code. And, with no run-time fees, ORBexpress satisfies the price-performance needs of its customers.