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Chip Downing

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Senior Director, Aerospace and Defense, Wind River

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Q:  How long have you been involved with The Open Group FACE™ Consortium?

A:  I have been involved with the FACE Consortium since the PMA-209 formation meeting in Reno, Nevada in the spring of 2010. Many folks on both the business and technical side of Wind River have participated and contributed to FACE business and technical standards efforts since June 2010.

Q:  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it? 

A:   After sampling a few FACE committees, I finally settled on the Business Working Group’s Outreach subcommittee.   I like promoting new business strategies, and driving both government and industry to adopt the business transformation that the FACE approach delivers is a significant undertaking.   The FACE initiative changes everything so there are new businesses and technical challenges that need to be implemented that force an explicit departure from legacy procurement processes.   It is a challenge, requiring many people involved in government program purchasing to get on board, but the rewards of transforming our processes to procure more capabilities that give our services the technology edge they deserve within the time frames they require are worth it.

I am really looking forward to my new role of Chair, Business Working Group (BWG) where I will have a greater chance to drive The Open Group FACE Technical Standard and Business Strategy into global solutions.

Q:  Why did your organization become a member of the The Open Group FACE Consortium and what does your involvement look like? 

A: Wind River has always leveraged standards for our customers’ benefit.   We are a leader in ARINC 653 design wins with over 200 customers using our VxWorks 653 product in over 400 programs in over 80 aircraft.   We are also one of the few companies that have invested in POSIX PSE52 certification.   We are a leader in bringing Eclipse into embedded development environments.   So supporting our customers with the FACE Technical Standard and Business Strategy was a simple extension of these past standards commitments – and being the first company to achieve FACE conformance certification for the FACE Operating System Segment (OSS) Safety Base Profile once again proves Wind River’s commitment to relevant open standards for the avionics community.

Q:  How has membership in The Open Group FACE Consortium benefited you, your organization and the industry at large?

A:  The FACE Approach is transformational.  This may be one of the largest endeavors ever undertaken to change the way the military purchases new capabilities.   The FACE technical standard creates an open foundation so our next generation systems can evolve from static, hardware-defined systems to very agile, software-defined systems, reducing risk, reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP), and accelerating needed capabilities into our next generation platforms. 

Using FACE conformant software components in true open systems architectures drives both lower integration times and lower platform costs for existing and, more importantly, future projects.  We want to facilitate this transformation for government procurements so that they can capitalize on the advantages offered by the FACE approach using FACE conformant software. This is both a technology and a business transformation that will save tens of billions of dollars in military operations, and, by delivering more capability to our military platforms sooner, save lives.

Q:  What contributions do you hope to bring to The Open Group FACE Consortium?

A:  Well, it is easy to be critical of something new and unproven.   I think my greatest contribution to FACE adoption is to keep our efforts on a positive plane.   I know the ARINC 653 standard works in commercial aerospace.  A software-defined architecture is far more efficient and maintainable than legacy single-function hardware platforms.   So when things sometimes look bleak (and we have had a few bleak days over the last 7 years) I know that what we are doing is the right thing, and I know that there will be significant payoffs in the future by adopting the FACE approach.

Q:  Why is it important for other organizations to join The Open Group FACE Consortium?

A:  The FACE Consortium is the only place where you can meet your competitive peers and the military services in a professional, open environment.   In the beginning one really does not appreciate the umbrella that consortium provides under the auspices of a “Voluntary Consensus Standards Body” as defined by the National Technology Transfer Act and OMB Circular A-119.   But with continued participation in these face-to-face meetings one begins to appreciate the special nature of the FACE Consortium meetings – almost everyone is open to discuss their particular challenges and methods to overcome the many technical and business  hurdles facing our industry.

Q:  What book are you currently reading?

A:  I am currently reading two books – “The Admirals” by Walter R. Borneman, about the four US Navy Five-Star Admirals -- Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King – who won the war (WW II) at sea.  I think it is great to see what challenges these four brilliant men faced during World War II, and put these into the context of today’s issues.   On a bit lighter subject I am also reading “Ballads of a Cheechako” by Robert W. Service – a first edition book I picked up decades ago when I was in Alaska.   As we venture into new territories we are all Cheechakoes, even if we are just taking on a new role like the Chair of the FACE Business Working Group (BWG).   We are all facing new challenges every day and it is how we respond to these challenges is what defines us as leaders, and both “The Admirals” and “Ballads of a Cheechako” are stories that define very different life challenges.

Q.  What social networks do you belong to?

A:  Well, I like to tweet – I have used Twitter since 2009 using the @ChipDowning handle and enjoy the brevity and terse content.  I now have over 18,500 Followers on Twitter and it serves as both my news feed and my channel to deliver and/or underscore business content.   To a lesser extent I also use LinkedIn – and I like keeping track of business relationships with this social media channel, and I like the way they are expanding it to enable more user content with both blog and tweet capabilities.   I also blog on the Wind River Blog Network  – this is a great place to highlight all of the new Wind River technology emerging from our product development and partner teams.

And, of course, the best social channel is meeting face-to-face at the FACE and SOSA™ Consortium meetings.   This is a great opportunity to chat with both our customers and our partners in a relaxed environment while helping everyone create more efficient and powerful next generation platforms.   The Technology Interchange Meetings (TIMs) we have sponsored at NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD, the US Army PEO Aviation in Huntsville, AL, and the US Air Force in Dayton, OH have been very successful showcases for FACE solution stacks and our joint partner solutions.

Q:  Any last thoughts?

A:  Amid the bustle of committee meetings and document reviews, we tend to forget that building these standards organizations – the FACE and SOSA™ Consortia, and now Open Process Automation™ Forum – also builds better communication channels between suppliers and customers, and deeper personal and partner relationships.   The end result of building these standards is a stronger, more efficient deployment environment for all of the new technology serving our respective industries.  I consider myself quite fortunate to be a leader in these efforts.


December 2017