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The Economics of Software Dependability

Speaker  Barry Boehm

Affiliation  University of Southern California

Host  John Spencer, Wolfram Schulte

Duration  01:30:59

Date recorded  12 November 2004

In most software applications, investments in software dependability compete with investments in such alternate capabilities as functionality, response time, adaptability, and speed of development. Investigating the tradeoffs among these sources of investment raises a number of significant questions about the nature of software dependability and its interactions with other desired software capabilities. These questions include:

  • What software capabilities are your various stakeholders really depending on (liveness, responsiveness, quality of service)? What happens when these aspects of “dependability” conflict?
  • Is success in the marketplace a monotone function of achieved dependability?
  • Is quality really free in all situations? How can one determine how much investment in dependability is enough in a given situation?
  • Are there ways to quantify the tradeoffs among schedule, cost, and dependability? Is “faster, cheaper, better” really achievable?
  • Many current software dependability-related techniques assume that every requirement, use case, test case, and defect is equally important. How cost-effective are such value-neutral methods?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of emerging “agile methods” in coping with dependability-related investments?

This talk will explore these and related questions from the perspective of the emerging discipline of Value-Based Software Engineering. It will show that, at least in many cases, reasoning about the economics of software dependability can lead to more satisfactory outcomes than will the application of value-neutral techniques.

©2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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