Measuring the effectiveness of computer based systems: An open system measurement example

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the International Symposium and Workshop on Engineering of Computer Based Systems, 2001, pp. 179 - 188
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Openness is one quality which modern CBSs strive to possess. This work on the evaluation of CBSs was developed in the context of research work to measure open systems, and that work forms the basis of this paper. Openness in large computer based systems is a quality sought by many, claimed by many, but proven by few. Openness in many systems with which we have daily contact is a quality which makes those systems operate in a fair and effective manner. For example, we have a standard (open) electrical wiring system, giving all customers great flexibility in the choice of appliances. Openness is seen as a modern panacea for the ills and shortfalls of large, complex computer based systems, by offering cost effective upgrade paths, or evolvability. This paper explores ways in which the relative openness of large computer based systems may be measured reliably, repeatably and fairly. The aim of the project upon which this paper is reporting was to determine the relative openness between various architectures, and the (long-term) consequences of utilising various architectures. Along the way, it has provided significant evidence of the usefulness of the open systems approach for large computer based systems. This paper certainly provides a basis upon which to judge whether or not a system which claims to be open lives up to the claims of being a cost effective, evolvable complex computer based system. The outcome is a measurement system which should be able to deal with all practical propositions, is based on solid evidence and provides solid analytical measures which are expressed in plain language (outlining consequences). A most important outcome of this paper is beginning to establish whether or not Openness is of any use.
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