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  • The Power of the Platform!

    The Nintendo Wii is one of the most successful gaming platforms with the most diverse set of games -- from fun games that can be enjoyed by the whole family to fitness programs that can be used by adults. They beat the dominant Sony Playstation and the Microsoft Xbox by thinking outside the box and creating a platform that was really easy to use and powerful enough to create the wide range of ‘games’.
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    When playing a game on the Wii with my son, I had the thought that probably the first really successful gaming platform was a deck of playing cards. (In retrospect, I should probably not have verbalized my thought because it brought teenage laughter and derision, unwarranted in my opinion). Unlike other board games, the playing card is a true platform that has spawned thousands of games played by young and old in every corner of the world. While games like Trivial Pursuit or Sudoku may enjoy intense popularity for a period of time, the interest will eventually fade. However, playing cards will continue to be forever because new games and variations can be invented by anyone.

    The power of platforms has most recently been demonstrated by Apple and Google. Nokia and Blackberry created devices that did a few things very well and were wildly successful for a period of time. Apple and Google trumped them by creating powerful platforms in the iOS and Android, thus unleashing the creativity of millions of developers to create hundreds of thousands of applications that no single company could even imagine, much less develop.
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    Extensible platforms not only allow third parties to expand and enhance your product offering, they also provide customers the power to customize and control their own user experiences. This is particularly true in technical and complex areas, such as EDA, where each design team has unique requirements and a cookie cutter application would not be feasible. An extensible platform adds new functionality from third parties to your product, making it more appealing to new customers. It also makes your product much more ‘sticky’ because once customers customize and integrate it into their flow, it is that much less likely that it would replace your product with another competing product without a REALLY good reason.

    EDA vendors have long realized the power of the platform and the need for extensibility. One very successful platform that I am quite familiar with is Cadence Virtuoso. With the powerful Skill extension language Cadence has created a strong ecosystem of third party products that integrate and enrich the Virtuoso flow beyond anything that Cadence could invent or implement on its own. The millions of lines of Skill code written by customers and partners virtually ensures the dominance of Virtuoso for years to come despite strong new competition from several major EDA vendors.

    This brings me to DAC 2011. Some of our competitors were talking about a new application -- IP management. It seems that someone was using long-legged, provocatively clad women to try to build a buzz about IP management. We know that several of our customers are managing and sharing IP blocks and PDKs across multiple projects using ClioSoft SOS Enterprise Edition hardware configuration management (HCM) platform. Did we miss the marketing boat?

    What do you really need to manage your IP? Broadly speaking, you need to be able to manage and version control your IP, allow users across the enterprise to browse and search for IP based on functionality and attributes such as technology or foundry (preferably with a web browser), view datasheets or compare IP to help select the right one, re-use and track usage of the IP, get notifications about new revisions, easily upgrade if necessary, and track and report issues – all while making sure that access is controlled.
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    ClioSoft's SOS platform already has all the underlying functionality and it has been in use for years:

    • Reference, reuse, track, and update IP
    • Customize and manage any attributes
    • Web interface to browse and search for IP based on attributes
    • Integration with issue tracking systems
    • Comprehensive access controls
    • Patented Universal DM Adaptor to manage composite objects

    One customer who dropped by our booth at DAC told us that he is already managing IP on the SOS platform and did not understand what all the hype was about. He came by to request a few changes to SOS to make it even better. Since ClioSoft owns the SOS HCM platform and does not rely on third party software configuration management systems to do the heavy lifting, we were able to add the suggested enhancements quickly.

    We realized that what we were missing was an ‘app’ to better demonstrate how to use the SOS platform to manage IP. By defining the right set of attributes and adding some custom GUI elements, in just a few days, we were able to build our own ‘app’ to demonstrate how the production-proven SOS platform can be used to manage and reuse IP across the enterprise. Since every design team has a different interpretation of what IP is and how it should be managed, an open application built on the SOS platform allows customers to easily customize the interface, attributes, and flow to mange and reuse IP. Customers are not forced to adopt a methodology built into an IP management application. Instead the SOS platform is easily adapted to meet customers’ needs.
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    The power of the platform – a robust and custom IP management solution in just days. Request an SOS platform demonstration HERE.

    by Srinath Anantharaman, founder and CEO of ClioSoft

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