What Are “Systems of Systems” and What Makes Them Different from Other Systems?
Simply put, systems of systems (SoS) are systems comprised of multiple constituent systems that are independent and useful on their own, but when combined into an SoS provide value beyond any one of the constituent systems. These constituent systems are typically independent from the SoS and the other constituent systems, with their own management, funding, stakeholders, requirements, and development processes.
The widely accepted characterization of SoS (Maier 1998) identifies two features that distinguish SoS:
- Operational independence of constituent systems
In an SoS, constituent systems operate independently of the SoS and other systems. Most often these systems existed prior to the formation of the SoS and in many cases these systems are deployed and in use when called upon to support a new capability.
- Managerial independence of constituent systems
The systems in an SoS are managed independently and their owner/managers may be evolving the systems to meet their own needs.
Maier's earlier work (and that of others) also put forth characteristics that, while not unique to SoS, are often present in them, such as:
- Geographical distribution
In many ...