Imagine, in order to do your daily job, you had Linux for email, an Apple II for web browsing, an old Windows 95 tower for excel spreadsheets, and a DOS machine for word processing. Rotary phones only work for some people you need to call, and you need a cellphone for others. Floppy drives, zip disks, punch cards, tape spools, fax machines, scanners, and a dot matrix printer… and the various hardware is all proprietary, yet necessary. Not only is there no room for you at your desk, you seem to spend a lot of time (on your touch-tone phone) with technical support.
Like the image above, modern combat vehicle electronics can resemble a bowl of hardware spaghetti. Different “bolt-on” devices and adaptors are stitched together by multiple suppliers who may be using different standards and interfaces. With barely enough room for a soldier wearing body armor, integration and interoperability have become key concerns.