Cast Software is known for its technology platform that provides metrics, quality and software intelligence ratings to determine the validity, strength and functionality of any particular application.
The firm held its annual software intelligence forum in Paris (where it has an HQ) last week to attempt to explain why we all need to build software with a little more care and attention in order to make sure it is robust, safe & secure and above all fit for purpose.
“Organizations must now migrate to the cloud and [as part of that process] work to re-think software systems for greater agility, improved security and data integrity,” said Vincent Delaroche, chairman and CEO of Cast. “All of this is driving the adoption of Cast ‘Software Intelligence’ as business and IT leaders look for more accuracy, visibility and control over compliance, security and modernization risk.”
MRI scan for software
CEO Delaroche has likened his firm’s branded ‘Software Intelligence’ approach to that of providing an MRI scanner for software applications in order to perform triage and identify where the most severe problems exist… in order to address those first.
Just as an MRI scanner uses radiology to build pictures of our own human anatomy in order to study the physiological processes of the body, Cast uses its approach to software intelligence to study the way software ‘compiles & executes’, makes ‘calls’ to various data resources and the way it connects to other networks, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), cloud computing channels… and to ultimately to the devices we all use.
Essentially, in terms of its technology proposition, Cast wants software to compile and run according to acknowledged global software engineering standards. Logically then, in terms of its commercial proposition, Cast wants customers to pay it to analyze their software in order to provide them with a bill of operational health, so-to-speak.
“For real-world architecture there are blueprints and building regulations. For software there is no equivalent. Like building regulations, we need standards for code,” said Lev Lesokhin, executive vice president for strategy and analytics at Cast Software.
Lesokhin claims that ‘most people’ (by which he means anybody except the software development/programmer team) know nothing about the software that runs their business — and that they don’t typically want to know. He further reminds that while the software industry is full of methodologies, de facto models and a multiplicity of standards — none of these guidelines necessarily exist to measure the ultimate quality of the software being produced, developed and deployed.
Speakers at Cast’s Paris event included Pierantonio Azzalini in his role as CTO for Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri. Azzalini explained that he operates 20 shipyards around the world and currently has a backlog of €33 billion, while he is also taking orders now for 2027, so productivity is a major concern.
“As a CTO, the only metrics I had was Lines of Code (LOC) and man [he means person] days. But I was using this 15 years ago. If you don’t maintain software, you can go out of business in 10 days. Software Intelligence is not something theoretical it is a ‘must for today’s IT. The most difficult thing is the relationship between an engineering business and IT. If you have a room full of people who are not familiar with IT, it is useful to have a standard to present how software metrics/quality is improving,” said Azzalini.
Software Composition Analysis
Cast Software had a busy 2018 by all accounts. The company acquired Antelink, a Software Composition Analysis (SCA) company founded by Inria, a public science and technology institution dedicated to computer science learning.
Antelink’s technology will be integrated into Cast Highlight, a cloud SaaS-based application portfolio analysis product designed to calculate and assign a unique SHA1 signature, a crypto hash function from the National Security Agency, to each component of complex software, including open source frameworks. These ‘fingerprints’ can be compared to reference databases of software components.
According to Cast, “The Software Heritage archive contains information about known application security vulnerabilities in addition to copyrights for all known software in use, including open source components. This type of knowledge is essential in scenarios where a Bill of Materials is required, such as outsourcing software development, buying software assets or during a merger or acquisition. SCA capabilities are becoming increasingly important for digital transformation success and improving the application security of business-critical systems.”
What to think next
Cast points to the increasing use of open source software and claims that its technology is well-suited to code analysis (and of course software intelligence) to analyze the burgeoning amount of code that is growing in the open arena.
CEO Delaroche says that his firm spent 11 million Euros on research and development in 2018, but that this expenditure was not simply focused on putting code analytics functions into its software. Instead, although code analytics is fundamental to what Cast does, it was focused on the wider development of (and simplification of) the total Cast platform.
Using his native French, Delaroche says that too many people want to, “Cacher la merde sous le tapis.”
So, if we follow his colorful use of language, now is not the time to hide any of your nasties under the carpet… now is the time to get it all out in the living room and work out what needs to go in the trash.
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