Military Embedded Systems

SOSA conformance process phase 1 deadline set


October 27, 2022

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

C. Patrick Collier, SOSA co-founder, outlines conformance timeline.

WASHINGTON. Those developing the process for conforming to the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) Technical Standard want a process that is easy to understand, is affordable, and that keeps vendors honest. SOSA representatives C. Patrick Collier, Mark Littlefield, and Ilya Lipkin outlined the status of the conformance process at a SOSA briefing held at the AOC Annual Symposium in Washington this week.

The deadline for Phase 1 of this process has been set for Feb. 28, 2023, announced Littlefield, of Elma Electronic and chair of the Small Form Factors Working Group.

The conformance process begins when a supplier applies for certification (There will be a flat certification fee, price TBD), then once certification is complete the supplier’s product(s) can be submitted for verification to a Verification Authority (VA), and then when a product is verified it can become conformant, Littlefield exlained.

Responding to a vendor question on just what needs to be submitted for conformance, Littlefield explained that only components can be conformant, not systems: So, “if there is a series of SOSA cards in a chassis, only components are SOSA conformant, not the system. There is no such thing as a SOSA system, just systems made of SOSA conformant components.” 

If those cards are different in any way in a relationship to SOSA -- whether in a software or hardware aspect -- they may need to be separately submitted for conformance, he added.


How much the verification process cost will depend on the complexity of the product being verified, Collier, the co-founder of SOSA, said.  Regarding the estimated length of the verification process, Collier noted that a test case of a power supply card took just a couple of hours to verify, but the length of time for verification will depend on the complexity of the product being verified.

Collier noted the development of a Common Test Tool Framework (CTTF) meant for the development of tools to “help us automate the program. It cannot cost an arm and a leg. To make it affordable we need help from industry partners and anyone who is willing to donate. It is a crowdsourcing effort.” A big part of reducing time to verification will be the CTTF, which will mean less pain and less cost for every person using it, he added. More details will be released on the CTTF in the months to come. 

While VAs have yet to be set up, they can be an industry or government entity, Collier said. There will not be one VA for every type of product, but different VAs specializing in different verification processes such as power supplies, security, software, etc., he added

The first one to apply to be a VA will be Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Lipkin, SOSA Steering Committe chair, said.

Honest process

When it comes to maintaining honest development, Lipkin noted that the conformance process will be a way to ensure products selected adhere to the conformant process and do not exploit loopholes. He referenced a recent incident where a vendor tried to submit a product, claiming it was SOSA aligned, when it wasn’t. The end user discovered the problem and went with another vendor, he said. Lipkin declined to name the vendor in question, but said the conformance process should eliminate such instances.

Lipkin said he wants an affordable process that ensures the end user is getting true SOSA conformant products.

Current and upcoming publications

Documents published and completed include: Conformance Certification Policy, Conformance Certification Agreement, Conformance Statement, and Conformance Requirements Template. 

Complete but not published and in steering review is the Conformance Certification Guide; completed, but not published and prepping for review is the Verification Requirements Document.

Items yet to come include the Certification Register, Certification Website, PC/CR Tool, Trademark License Agreement, and Verification Matrix Guide. The Verification Matrix Guide is most the difficult one, as every confirmative item has its own matrix, some with as many as 300 verification points, Littlefield noted

As for how fast these documents get completed and the process set up, will depend on “the speed of the volunteers,” Lipkin said.

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