22 May 2002 A group of US businesses and academics have formed a consortium to improve the reliability and security of commercial software.
According to William Guttman, director of the new Sustainable Computing Consortium (SCC), “software systems have become the critical infrastructure of our [the US] nation and economy. Unreliable software has profound consequences.” The SCC’s backers include Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco and mission-critical software users such as the space agency NASA.
According to Steve Perkins, senior vice-president of Oracle’s US public sector and homeland security division, “software as an industry is pretty immature. We lack the metrics, the standards and the discipline, and these kinds of capabilities cannot be architected into software after the fact.”
The Washington, DC-based National Research Council estimates that US companies spent £120 billion (€189bn) last year to repair damages caused by software defects and £8.5 billion (€13.4bn) to repair systems affected by computer viruses.
The new organisation, coordinated from Carnegie Mellon University in California, will create standards and techniques for developing more reliable software. Guttman says the SCC hopes to define specific challenges and a plan for developing technological measurements within the next year, but was unwilling to discuss specific results and timetables.