University Forms Consortium to Lead Efforts in "Sustainable Computing"
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University Forms Consortium to Lead Efforts in "Sustainable Computing"

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William Guttman and William Scherlis
University Forms Consortium to Lead Efforts in "Sustainable Computing"
Researchers at the Heinz School and the School of Computer Science have joined a coalition of leading businesses, software developers and federal agencies to form the Sustainable Computing Consortium (SCC), a new groundbreaking initiative aimed at protecting the nation's computing infrastructure and improving the reliability of its information technology systems.

This marks the first time that such a broad-based group of stakeholders has been formed to address issues relating to software dependability, quality and security.

The SCC will leverage nearly $30 million in existing research grants and member commitments, including an initial seed grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Software Industry Center at the Heinz School.

Founding SCC members include AIG, Alcoa, Caterpillar, Cisco, CMP Media LLC, Confluence, General Atlantic Partners, Mellon Financial Corp., Merck, Microsoft, NASA, Oracle, Pfizer, Raytheon, RedSiren Technologies, Reed Smith, Tata Consultancy Services and UPMC Health System.

In addition, Carnegie Mellon's two-year-old High Dependability Computing Consortium, which includes 15 software industry companies and NASA, will form a High Dependability Working Group within SCC.

The director of the SCC is William Guttman, distinguished service professor of economics and technology at the Heinz School. Co-directors are William Scherlis, principal research scientist in the School of Computer Science's Institute for Software Research International (ISRI), and Ashish Arora, associate professor of economics and public policy at the Heinz School.

"We live in a digital world," Guttman said. "It is a world of staggering complexity and scale, in which software plays an increasingly vital role in our daily lives. It is critical that business, industry, technology and public policy experts come together now to ensure that software meets the standards of quality, dependability and security that our modern world requires."

The purpose of the SCC is to foster the development of standards and methodologies to reduce software defects; quantify and reduce the risks software flaws pose to the nation's computing infrastructure; bring together global businesses, software industry leaders and public policy experts to address technical, legal, economic and policy issues surrounding sustainable computing; and conduct independent research, provide measurement and design tools, and document best practices to quantify and improve software quality, dependability and security.

"The issue of ensuring software quality and security is one of the most important technical and public policy issues facing the nation and the world," said Jeffrey Hunker, dean of the Heinz School. "The mission of the SCC and its members will be to drive new developments in information technology and to produce groundbreaking research on software economics, risk management, auditing and liability."

Check box "Carnegie Mellon has long been a leader in technology innovation," said James Morris, dean of the School of Computer Science. "As we have continued our research on computer software standards and dependability, it has become clear that a host of technical, business, social and public policy issues must be confronted in order to achieve our goals.

"Carnegie Mellon has a singular breadth of multidisciplinary expertise to apply to these problems, and we are excited to work with this broad range of industry, business and government leaders to help develop solutions."

A survey of IT professionals released by InformationWeek, a consortium participant through its parent company CMP Media LLC, indicated that 89 percent of organizations that use IT have experienced software defects that have resulted in higher costs or lost revenue to their organizations. Some 62 percent of respondents said the software industry was doing an unsatisfactory job of ensuring that commercial software is bug-free. Software defects cost global business an estimated $175 billion in 2001.

"It is imperative that we be able to depend on technology to be consistently reliable and resilient," said Scott Charney, chief security strategist for Microsoft Corp.

"The creation of the SCC is an important and valuable step toward achieving that goal and I applaud Carnegie Mellon for its leadership on this issue. Microsoft is proud to be a founding member of the SCC."

The SCC will leverage resources at several existing Carnegie Mellon research entities, including the Software Industry Center, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; the High Dependability Computing Program, funded by NASA, in the School of Computer Science; the Software Engineering Institute, home to the federally funded CERT Coordination Center; and ISRI which houses the Information Technology Services Qualification Center, a source of standards for rating outsourcing firms.

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Michael Kuczkowski

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