General Questions

 

Pricing / Licensing

 

Puchasing

 

Delivery

 

 

General Questions

What are verification, validation and certification products?

VSC provides products and services that help you create software and products that comply with a variety of safety standards used for medical, avionics, transportation, and industrial equipment. Validation Templates provide the structure for your development and test program, while Validation Kits and Validation Suites provide an expedient and affordable way to use a RTOS in a certified product. We supplement our products with decades of experience in the field of developing software for safety critical devices.

Services:

  • Software development services that typically provide low-level, processor or board support. The most common areas are hardware abstraction layers such as port code and drivers.
  • Creating development and test artifacts for new ports, drivers and low level software.
  • Creating development and test artifacts for third party software e.g., run-time-libraries and application code.

Products:

  • Certification artifacts that apply to RTOS, i.e., standard centric Validation Suites and Validation Kits.
  • Industry standard specific Validation Templates that are used to put a standards compliant development and test program in place.

 

Can VSC certify my product?

No, VSC is not a certification agency. Our products and services are oriented to help you take your product through certification. We can make the process easier, more affordable and more likely to achieve certification.


How does VSC make the process easier, more affordable and improve my odds of success?

The road to certification is a multistep process. Having your product certified is the last step in that process. However, it is essential that you start on the road to certification the right way, as well as continue to do the right things along the way to ensure that your journey ends with a successful device certification. Countries, regions, industries and standards have various ways of conferring your device certification, but they all depend on you creating and following a compliant development and test program. This is where VSC’s products and services come into play.

1) Validation Templates may be used by anyone for any software program; no constraints are placed on languages used, processors, software, development tools, etc. Our industry specific Validation Templates supply the foundation for a compliant development and test program which, in turn, is the basis for successful software certification.

2) Validation Kits and Validation Suites are specifically developed to reduce or eliminate the certification burden associated with embedding Micrium’s µC/OS RTOS or VSC's Valid-653 in their device.

3) VSC’s Verification, Validation and Certification services offer the same value proposition as our products. We don’t do everything; our focus is on the areas where we can clearly deliver differentiating value.

  • Create RTOS ports, drivers and other low-level software. The various software components and their supporting artifacts are delivered integrated and ready to submit as a self-contained Validation Suite.
  • Create submission ready certification artifacts for pre-existing or legacy third party software. This is the case for a growing list of run-time-libraries, graphical and connectivity software that was developed without any consideration for use in safety critical markets.

4) VSC is expert at applying standards compliant reverse engineering methods to pre-existing source code. VSC works closely with customers to ensure that any coding or architectural issues are identified and resolved as early in the process as possible.

At the end of the process, you will submit your product and development artifacts i.e., the evidence that it was created and maintained in a compliant manner to the applicable notifying body for review. It is they who will provide the certification of compliance.


What are Validation Templates?

Validation Templates provide essential infrastructure, processes, and procedures needed to establish a standards compliant development and test program. Validation Templates are available for the dominant software development standards used in Avionics, Industrial Process Control, Oil & Gas, Transportation (Rail), and Medical equipment.

Validation Templates are implemented as a set of forms and templates that are populated with real-world content that has been successfully submitted during past device certifications. The division between boiler plate content and the content that the user is expected to adapt to their own use is clearly marked and its use is detailed in the User’s Manual.

The purpose of the templates is to demonstrate one method to navigate the requirements and objectives of the applicable standard using a concrete example that is threaded throughout the template set. So, while the configuration management plan may reference a specific tool as the configuration management tool, the plan, processes, procedures and philosophy apply to any configuration management tool. Our Validation Templates make these chanes easy by using custom fields for tool names.  Changing it in one place changes it everywhere. The Templates are provided in Microsoft Word format and offer 100% flexibility in how the user ultimately adapts them for their own unique development culture and the requirements of their project.

Verification and Validation answer the questions “Did I build the right thing?”, and “Did I build it correctly”.


Do Validation Suites exist that also include support for the application code?

No. If you are new to safety-critical development, we offer Validation Templates that can help with setting up a compliant development process. Additionally, VSC can assist with creating the necessary artifacts for your application through our consulting services.


Do you do software development in addition to providing your validation products?

Yes, VSC has a great deal of experience in creating RTOS hardware abstraction layers (ports), drivers and other low-level processor and board software (BSPs). All software developed by VSC includes supporting certification artifacts for the applicable standard.


Why should I consider using a Validation Suite?

Validation Suites contain the software development lifecycle artifacts for your RTOS. Validation Suites are standard specific, processor and compiler specific, and contain unit testing and integration testing results for your processor or equivalent test platform. Validation Suites support all RTOS APIs and services as well as permissible RTOS configurations.

If you are using RTOS and you are developing a device that will be certified, Validation Suites offer a number of advantages. Because Validation Suites support all APIs and Services they provide a buffer against changing product requirements as well as provide a foundation that easily supports multiple product variants. As long as the RTOS version, the hardware abstraction layer, and the compiler remain unchanged a single Validation Suite will satisfy the requirements for multiple device variants

Validation Suites are packaged as a self-contained module that is easily and quickly integrated with anyone’s development program. Validation Suites free up development and test staff so that they may work on more important tasks.

VSC delivered its first Validation Suites for avionics DO-178B in 1999. Since that time the family of RTOS Validation Suites has grown to include the dominant standards used for Medical, Industrial Process Control, Oil & Gas, Rail Transportation equipment. Using VSC's Validation Suites, RTOSes have been embedded in certified devices using a variety of processors spanning DSPs, PowerPC, ARM, Cortex and many other 32-bit processors.


What is a Validation Kit

We occasionally run into differences in the understanding of the word “kit”. It has a specific connotation in the USA, essentially meaning “some assembly required”. A simple example is IKEA furniture i.e., furniture that requires assembly by the purchaser. In the same sense, our Validation Kit is a Suite that requires some assembly by the purchaser.


How do Kits and Suites work?

The premise is simple, and it is based on the principle of abstraction. The RTOS APIs and Services have been designed so that their function is not dependent on the architecture of the underlying hardware. On a version by version basis, the same RTOS code that can be compiled to run on your desk top computer is the same source code that is compiled to run on a DSP, and it will compile and run on any other processor architectures (ARM Cortex M3,PowerPC, etc.).

It is the RTOS hardware abstraction layer (aka Port software) that provides the mapping between the unique processor attributes and the standardized data structures and resources implemented in RTOS. Differing only in scope the same principle applies to both Validation Suites and Validation Kits.

A Validation Suite contains 100% of the certification artifacts needed to demonstrate that the version of RTOS and abstraction layer that is embedded in your device is certifiable. Like the RTOS, the Core of the Validation Suite is static on a version by version basis and can be used on a variety of processors and architectures. It is the process of creating the port aspects of certification for the RTOS hardware abstraction layer and verifying the test results that produces the processor specific Validation Suite.

Validation Kits were originally created as an internal tool that provided a standardized basis for the creation of Validation Suites. It consists of the Core Validation Suite for the RTOS version and the applicable standard plus a set of partially completed set of certification artifacts. The term “partially completed” is used because the kit may be applied (or ported) to any processor that the RTOS is running on. All but the details conditional to the processor are contained in those “partially complete” artifacts.

Completing the Validation Kit involves three activities:

  1. Finalize the “partially completed” port aspects of certification for the specific RTOS port code your processor uses.
  2. Build and run projects for the test code that VSC provides.
  3. Follow the port software test plan you created as part of your port aspects of certification, collect the results and complete the final documents.

Congratulations, you now have a Validation Suite for your processor.


What is a Porting kit?

Validation Suites are made up of the certification artifacts that support the Core RTOS software, and the certification artifacts for the RTOS hardware abstraction layer (Port) that glues the non-architecturally dependent RTOS code to your processor and compiler. The porting kit was originally created as a standardized tool that is used by VSC to create the RTOS port software certification artifacts.

At the highest level, Validation Suites may be viewed as two different classes of certification artifacts – those that are related to the processes, activities and tasks associated with creating the software and those that are related to testing the assumptions that the software is based on. A Validation Kit with its Core VS is similar to the RTOS prior to it being ported to a specific processor and toolset. It is the porting kit which helps the user port the Validation Kit to the processor and toolset used for your project. In addition to a set of samples, examples and templates you use to create the certification artifacts for the RTOS port software. VSC provides both the unit test and integration test code that you will use to verify that your test results match those contained in the Core VS. The integration test code is provided as “C” source code. The unit test code is provided in object format for execution on a PC. An optional target-specific unit test library is available for on-target execution of the unit tests.


What makes the Kits portable i.e., independent of testing tools with respect to the Core VS?

The Core VS is supplied in PDF format. This includes the unit and integration test results that VSC gathers and includes with the Core VS. VSC includes both the unit test code and the integration test code that you use to verify the results that are included in the Core VS. The integration test code is provided in source format that you compile and run on your target. Additionally, you may use this code as the basis for more extensive testing by extending it to include other aspects of your system.

The unit test code is provided in object format for execution on a PC. If your project requires on-target unit tests an optional target- specific unit test library is available for on-target execution of the unit tests.


What are our options if a RTOS port is not available from the manufacturer?

If the manufacturer does not have a port for your specific processor/compiler available, don’t worry. VSC can also provide your port software so that you get up and running fast. Often we can provide your port within a few weeks and completed Validation Suite within a 60-day period. Your other option would be to create it yourself. If you go that route, we have some guidance that will make the overall process go much smoother.

 

Pricing / Licensing

What factors are considered in the licensing?

The licensing for both Kits and Suites share a great deal of similarities with that of the common no-royalties RTOS that is used in the embedded industry; however, it isn’t exactly the same for several reasons. You can think of the licensing having a natural constraint that is imposed by the processor and tools used. It may, however, be applied to more than one product i.e., a series of variants in a product line that use the same processor and tools.

The standard license grants you certain rights:

  1. that apply to a business unit, development group, or division.
  2. that are royalty free, perpetual and apply on a worldwide basis.
  3. that allow you to use the artifacts to certify one or more end products.
  4. that allow you to provide the artifacts to one of more certifying agencies.

The main thrust of our licensing is to protect our intellectual property. However, our goal is to compliment, not constrain, the way you do business; so we will consider almost any licensing scenario that works for you at a price you can afford.

Either contact us to request a copy of our End User Licensing Agreement, or click the End User Licensing Agreement button on our Information Request form.


What are the common elements involved in Validation Suite and Validation Kit pricing?

Both Kit and Suite use a common Core Validation Suite (VS). The Core VS is a pre-existing component that has an update schedule that is synchronized with the RTOS product. The Core VS only changes to accommodate upgrades and enhancement that are made to the RTOS product itself. Like the RTOS product core software, the Core VS makes up approximately 90% of the total package. You may compare the Core VS to the RTOS product code prior to being instantiated for a specific processor where that process entails creating the RTOS port layer for the processor and tools. We view the Core VS as a product; it is used as-is for both the Kit and Suite, and does not require any modification or post processing. The Core VS is a price sheet item and is priced the same for both Kit and Suite.

The second part of the price equation is the associated port software. Since there are many different variants of processors that the user can choose, that software is new and does not have a set of pre-existing certification artifacts to support its use on the specific processor. While the result is the same, there are two routes that may be taken when creating a Validation Suite:

  1. VSC staff starts with a Validation Kit and, using the porting kit, creates the appropriate certification artifacts for the specific processor, or
  2. The user starts with a Validation Kit and, using the porting kit, creates the appropriate certification artifacts for the specific processor.

 

Puchasing

How can I get a quotation?

Please call +1.760.448.5391 or email a request to info@validatedsoftware.com.

For Validation Kits, please supply:

  • Company name and address
  • Contact information i.e. requestor's name, phone number, email
  • Applicable source code e.g., µC/OS-II
  • Applicable standard
  • Target Processor
  • Compiler

For Validation Suites, please supply:

  • Company name and address
  • Contact information i.e. requestor's name, phone number, email
  • Applicable source code e.g., µC/OS-II
  • Applicable standard and assurance level
  • Target Processor
  • Compiler Toolset and Version number
  • Target / Evaluation board
  • (JTAG) Debugger and connection with manufacturer and model

For Validation Templates, please:


How do I purchase your product?

Email the following to info@validatedsoftware.com:

  • Purchase order
  • PDF of signed VSC EULA
  • Ship software, hardware and tools needed for VSC to begin work. These are outlined in your quote.
  • For orders associated with Micrium, Express Logic or other third party source code, please provide evidence of a software license.

All payments, including deposits should be made via EFT or wire-transfer; all cost of transfer to be borne by customer.


What are your invoicing practices and general payment terms?

A deposit may or may not be required. Excluding any required deposit, VSC invoices for the value listed on the quote for the item shipped as it is shipped. For example, if, in addition to a Validation Suite, VSC was also providing the RTOS port software for the processor there would typically be three invoices:

  • VSC ships and invoices the Core VS.
  • VSC creates the RTOS port, delivers and invoices it.
  • VSC creates and ships the complete Validation Suite as the final delivery; invoices the balance.

If only a Validation Suite is ordered, then the following would apply:

  • VSC ships and invoices the Core VS.
  • VSC creates, ships and invoices the complete Validation Suite as the final delivery.

All deliveries are made via a secure FTP account that will be provided to you at the time of order acceptance.

Payment terms are 3% 10 days, Net 30. Longer terms are available but include a 15% surcharge for an additional 30 days and 25% surcharge for terms longer than 60 days.

 

Delivery

How long does it take VSC to create a Validation Suite?

If you order a Validation Suite from VSC (as opposed to a Validation Kit) we typically plan for 60 days from start to finish. While we may be able to do it in as little as half the time, 60 days allows for some padding to accommodate the unexpected e.g., faulty hardware, problematic software licenses, etc. However, there are a several factors which may affect the start date between you receiving your quote and VSC starting on your order. If the delivery of a Validation Suite is part of your near term critical path, please get your order in early. Aside from your purchase order, deposits, authorizing our work, in order for VSC to start work on your Validation Suite you will need to provide or ensure that we can acquire:

  • The RTOS port software for your processor
  • All software required to develop your Validation Suite (compiler, IDE, SDK, etc.)
  • Development board(s), debugger compatible JTAG connection, etc.


How long will it take me to complete a Validation Kit?

That is a difficult question to answer. Using the Kit is not tied to any specific tool. Our kits have been refined over many years to make them portable and usable across a wide spectrum of customer environments. Internally we use RequisitePro, TestTrack, SVN, Surround SCM, the project compiler, debugger and JTAG, etc. but the kits are not tied to their use. Our kits contain all essential elements such as test code and can be converted into suites with as little as the project complier, evaluation board, debugger, JTAG, and standard MS Office software. Using the same kits as those delivered to our customers, and without any proprietary tools not available to the public, VSC staff routinely do it in less than 60 days.

Some customers have reported creating their Validation Suite in as little as six weeks. If it is your first exposure to our RTOS based Verification Validation and Certification products it is likely to take longer.

However, having access to more sophisticated tools such as requirements tracing software, and testing tools (for the port software) will aid in accelerating progress. Familiarity with the standard and experience are thought to be the determining factor though.


How are the products delivered?

Via the FTP account we set up for your use.

Staged deliveries involve using the FTP site for all intial and intermediate deliveries. The final delivery containing all elements of your purchase is provided in a zip file via FTP.

VSC deems that the product is “shipped” and “delivered” at the time we notify you of its availability via the FTP site. You will be invoiced for any outstanding balance at that time.


What is left for me to do when I get a Validation Suite?

As the system integrator, you selected the RTOS because it provides features and functions that satisfy a subset of your system requirements. Your RTOS Validation Suite provides the necessary artifacts that demonstrate that the RTOS was developed and maintained in accordance with your applicable standard and required criticality (SIL, DAL, Level, Class). It is provided as a stand-alone, module that you will check into your revision control system. You will need to reference its use in your planning and summary documentation as well as any other documentation that is dictated by your internal policies and theapplicable standard. An integration manual is provided with the Validation Suite. The integration manual describes remaining tasks and suggestions for integration into your project.


What about customer support?

Most of VSC’s products come with Customer Support included in their price. This is usually a 90-day term but may vary with product. The quote will provide more details. The term starts on the day of the final delivery, but customers may begin to utilize customer support at the time their purchase order has been accepted by VSC. The customer will have direct access to the Customer Support liaison that is assigned to them once the order has been accepted.

Email and phone support is provided 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Pacific). International customers may make arrangements for support outside normal business hours upon request. This would involve making an appointment directly with their assigned Customer Support liaison. On-site support is not included as part of this support.

While VSC will generally attempt to address all customer questions, the intent of the support provided as part of the product delivery is to support installing and using the VSC products. VSC assumes that those seeking support:

  • are familiar with the overall methods and techniques used to develop and document safety critical software
  •  have access to, have read, and understand the applicable standard
  • have the skills and competence to undertake the project they are working on

For novice development teams or those seeking support options with a wider scope of support, please call 760-448-5391 or email: info@validatedsoftware.com to discuss those options.

 

 

Need more information?

Use our: Information Request Form

E-mail: info@ValidatedSoftware.com

Phone: 1-760-448-5391