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Proceedings of the 1997 Winter Simulation Conference

ed. S. Andradóttir, K. J. Healy, D. H. Withers, and B. L. Nelson

THE FUTURE OF SIMULATION SOFTWARE: A PANEL DISCUSSION

CHAIR

Jerry Banks

School of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332-0205 USA

ABSTRACT models in order to justify the cost of performing a
simulation. Simulation software needs to be open
Panelists represent vendors of simulation software. Six enough so that experts can build template models for
of the panelists present their position on the question, casual users. The interface must be easily customized,
“Where do you see simulation software headed?” The allowing for spreadsheet data input and mouse-based
panelists are given seven areas as suggestions for their interaction with the model. Simulation products must
response. also provide for customization through a structured
language.
1 INTRODUCTION The number of those using models built by others will
continue to climb. Also, we will see more expert users
In November of 1996, the same panel was convened at creating templates as a business venture. These trends
AUTOFACT to discuss the future of simulation will drive the simulation vendors to create more open
software. The topic was of great interest to the panelists, products and tools to assist the model builders in creating
all representatives of simulation software vendors, as templates.
well as the audience. The panelists agreed to restate
their positions after more than a year had passed. One 2.2 Object-oriented Simulation
year is quite some time in the software business, so the
topic is certainly not redundant. The panelists were Object orientation (OO) includes many important
asked the question: Where do you see simulation concepts which apply to all software including
software headed in the following areas? simulation. However useful OO is, the majority of
simulation users should not be expected to learn the
Rapid model building via templates technology. Simulation tools and their interfaces will
Object-oriented simulation provide OO features without requiring the users to
Virtual reality understand the underlying concepts. An example is a
Interface to other software tools feature found in AutoMod’s conveyor template. The
Output analysis user can create types of conveyor sections, each having
Optimization its own attributes like speed and spacing. Each type can
Internet applications inherit from another type, but with changes in one or
more of the section’s attributes. Thus, a hierarchy of
The response of six of the panelists is given in the conveyor section types is created in which the OO
following sections concept of inheritance is provided directly to the
simulation user.
2 MATT ROHRER AutoSimulation
, , Inc.
s
2.3 Virtual Reality
2.1 Rapid Model Buildi g via
n Template Models
As mentioned earlier, the simulation market is moving to
As the simulation market matures, we move into the the early majority which makes it harder to justify the
market segment called the “Early Majority” (Moore hardware required to perform virtual reality (VR). VR
1991). This is a large group of potential buyers of solutions currently require expensive workstation
simulation products, but they need application of specific

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simulation will become a client/server contain accurate dimensional information about the application in many organizations. 2. simulation software is developing into a spreadsheet use. An come together on the web to help others see the results of example could be an intelligent machine in the CAD simulation models. This information will be passed to the simulation directly from the CAD system. and simulation tools Animation video. hierarchy has changed how models are . object-oriented programming. Ten years applying the new algorithms. template template models. models. reports. The library element will not only models. and the Internet will device.4 Interface to Other Software Tools Simulation tools will provide better ways of disseminating information using the Internet. spreadsheet user interfaces will be Borrowing successful features from other desktop more prevalent. more intelligence will be a perfect medium for information transfer in many forms. They want the computer to perform the tedious desktop personal computer. The web is As CAD systems advance. Additionally. continue to improve.7 Internet Applications 2. Output analysis tools for simulation need to include more guidance for users to prevent erroneous inferences. Thus.6 Optimization and click” methods and by completing simple dialog boxes. schematic pictures to realistic 3D animation. simulation ago simulation vendors might have said that realistic software that allows for parallel and distributed graphics were not important. Now. This will make the power of simulation accessible to more people than ever. maintenance schedules. Some use a proprietary The current focus of the simulation industry is to spreadsheet solution. Not everyone careful and understand the results supplied by the model. altered how people are creating models. Simulation products today run the gamut from 2D package could lead to costly mistakes. needs to get inside their model and manipulate it using Blindly following the recommendation of a software VR. Imagine That. and graphs will will adapt to import drawing intelligence directly. Advances such as graphical common input data environment for user friendly user-interfaces. Object-oriented program development allows users to Additionally. allowing more people to visualize systems before they are built. Many simulation software products use spreadsheets for their user interface.1 Object-oriented Simulation software needs to protect the non-expert user from making mistakes when interpreting the results. In addition. New algorithms will be developed As 3D Application Programming Interfaces (API) are to reduce the number of simulation runs required. database. 3 JIM RIVERA. The market Several simulation products today include optimization is pushing to have photorealisitic animation at the level technology. Inc. and interfaces with other tools will continue to make it easier to build and maintain useful simulation 2. embedded within drawing objects. it is not uncommon for entire models to be created using “point 2.5 Output Analysis models. constructing customized reports and capturing simulation Combined with a graphical user interface.” runs of the simulation. graphics will continue to improve where many runs or long run lengths are required. still pictures. but also the downtime and preventive be the conduit. Most computer users are familiar with applications. job of iterating to that solution. Heuristic algorithms usually require many seen in movies such as “Toy Story” and “Jurassic Park. all Simulation tools should be able to adapt quickly in simulation products will have better graphics. while others link to products like increase the usability of simulation software while MS Excel. this has greatly information for later analysis. The decision maker The real need is to get decision makers “inside” their using a simulation model and optimization needs to be facilities and data through visualization. so spreadsheets can become the more user-friendly tool. The CAD operator will be able to select a User friendly interfaces will be developed in Java to specific machine from a library of machines from provide a way of inputting data and experimenting with different vendors. The 3. Today. used to build the next generation of simulation tools. The Future of Simulation Software: A Panel Discussion 167 hardware costing ten times as much as a standard problem. by allowing the user to hide and Many of our customers and prospects want simulation to show model details as appropriate for the target go farther in providing a good solution to a given audience. the expert user needs better tools for take advantage of flexible pre-built constructs. realistic graphics are computing can take advantage of networks of computers required. In the future. As mainstream spreadsheet products maintaining or increasing flexibility and accuracy.

HICKS. like Predicting the future is a tricky game. industry that produces it is headed. including simulation software particular. has two major technological forces that will 3. Yet. developers of through the shores of the tiny technological island called simulation software have tended to tightly bundle all of “simulation. distributed computing will present of the total solution. many of the adhering to a disciplined object-oriented component- ramifications of the current waves are so evident as to design approach. acquire the necessary orders of magnitude very quickly. turning a bunch of little computers into a giant. simulation is only one part months). model and simulate the process. To improve performance. components whose services can be accessed from any other component that needs it. much to be gained from taking a step back from the just to name a few). Simulation software. as it is indeed a world-wide market. allowing people to share and collaborate same industry to perform the same tasks.” While one does not wish to spend time the components together as a single program. A variety of applications can help opportunities to increase computational power by several the users define their processes. For distributed computing to be viable. Don’t like the user interface that comes with the basic . programs.3 User Interface While the speed of individual computing nodes will continue to improve (doubling approximately every 18 For most complex problems.1 The Software Industry sophisticated. sped up mainly by getting faster hardware. can Conversely. must allow users access to all of their components. Oh sure. provide valuable insight into the appropriate inputs to be immensely powerful computing organism. you could run each of your 50 replications on a applications will help to provide a seamless integration different machine on the network simultaneously? How of tools therefore reducing unnecessary rework and user about 1000 simulation experiments? If you could get errors. without picking glass shards from the teeth. statistical output processor. analyze A single simulation running on a single machine can be and optimize the process. it is very common for companies within the same network.2 Simulation Software required to build and maintain a simulation model will help users to spend less time on the details and overhead Object technology goes hand in hand with distributed of modeling and more time solving the problem at hand. software in general. and user interface. The saying goes most programs. to utilize any of the services they need. merit a few precarious prognostications. event learn to live with the taste of broken glass. their services to other machines on the network. all software programs is that computing power is becoming scalable. or sometimes out of bad habit. reducing the amount of effort 4. software must be designed and implemented as 4 DONALD A. The Internet puts everyone on the same way. or urgent affairs of the day to examine the implications of because the software was designed using older design the enormous waves of change threatening to wash paradigms. but can other. What if. Template models. developed by industry experts. we must first ActiveX/OLE automation wrappers and custom APIs understand the major waves of change in two areas: have made it possible for programs to talk to each other. As these interfaces become more 4. The global software industry. simulation output 1000 times faster. building and presenting models will become more intuitive. multiple programs can collaborate with each not only help reduce model development time.168 Banks presented. Distributed computing means that template model can provide a framework to which detail software components on any single machine can offer can be added to accurately depict specific processes. 2 Template Models directly change the shape of simulation in the future. PROMODEL Corp. mistakenly confused with the related concept of While no two companies conduct business in exactly the distributed computing. However. there is calendar. The all powerful and much ballyhooed Internet is often Template models will also reduce model building effort. The effect for considered when analyzing a given process. The result is that simulation programs have tended to To get a feel for where simulation software and the be difficult to integrate with other applications. how would you Advances in simulation software will never eliminate change your approach to experimental design? the need for users to have a good understanding of their processes. computing. Think of it this way: empirical data. is really a bundle of interacting that the person who speaks from the crystal ball should functional components (random number generator. and present the results. A flexible on computing tasks. and simulation techniques in but future applications. 3. Improvements in the interface between different software however.

This should greatly increase schedule happens to be completely derailed by any the number of simulation users—but not necessarily the deviation from the plan? Put another way. we have a means to model the system very accurately. situations. Our Problems that cannot be modeled using mathematical success will depend almost entirely on our attitude: We equations can be tackled by bringing computational make simulation technology serve our customers and not power to bear on them. we model this problem and optimize simulation from two vantage points: The current trends. In fact. mathematical model. the simulation simply becomes the function mapping inputs (the assigned line Obviously not every user of today’s simulation software and sequence number of each job) with outputs (time to will be writing custom simulation applications. different changeovers involved between any two of the 10 jobs. What if we have only one operator. and each job has a different cycle time on each This position statement provides a view of the future of machine. The next calculates the performance measures. Simulation based computational approach to problem solving.. or outputs. we will need to help users clarify exactly what to simulation technology. Indeed. or the 6th best mathematical solution that will calculate information. would continue to improve.). while increasing and outputs. equations. Have your MIS department (or your summer intern) because they become impossible to model using implement a bridge. or an external optimization program? befuddle the mathematical programming approach. simulation becomes the approach to decision making will. A major So. total setup time. As a production manager. Our definition themselves are enough to redefine simulation as an of “problem solving” must. dependent on the situation? These issues typically a data warehouse. is used in projects for one or because they are relevant to improving real-world more of the following three reasons. the sequence and assignment of the jobs using a and some opportunities for changing direction. etc. many models will be variance occurs in any of the aspects of the predicted built directly from data sources already present in the system performance. the most exciting and optimal solution. over time. bRobotics. However. not identifying abstract mathematical extreme visualization. as will its importance as a means of you rather run a schedule that is the mathematically communication. BARNES Dene .3 Predictions intelligent goal seeking algorithm. there is an extremely important shift in how based approaches. the very concept of an “optimal” solution simulation’s usefulness as a visualization tool will is overly simplistic. but will perform abysmally 65% of the dramatic changes will occur in simulation’s ability to time. of people who can use it to make better decisions. A major computational problem solving approaches are the tools part of the simulation’s future lies in this area: simulation that will support those successful companies. compete all jobs. In simulation. However. while intelligent experimental procedures use us in the simulation world. some will. Here’s an example: Assume that vice versa. We are the ones who are goal seeking methods to find solutions. One further point regarding optimization: Do we really simulation capabilities will be a set of services that want the “absolutely optimal” sequencing and line systems designers and IT producers will include based assignments for our 10 jobs? What if our optimal on users’ business needs. and useful. responsible for putting simulation’s power in the hands This approach is extremely powerful and unique. Today. Improvement in points. better financially than those that don’t. Need to have other complex constraints that are time related and stream output statistics directly to a remote user’s screen. in addition to dealing make the next generation of simulation software able to with complex problems. finding answers that matter Simulation. of a 10 years should prove to be an amazing time for those of model. While these waves in they really want out of a “good” solution.” i. we are attempting to schedule 10 jobs through two production lines (three machines in each line). it can handle variance in inputs tackle much more complex problems. There are 5 MARTIN R. as a tool. In the real world. variance happens. perform engine of a much more complete. Inc. evolve to mean something akin to simulation itself is used and in what capacity. The Future of Simulation Software: A Panel Discussion 169 modeling environment? Create your own. does it change our notion of “best?” enterprise computing system of large businesses. As simulation grows into a problem solving the availability of its power to many users who are new technique. who must be present for some portions of the operations? What if we . “problem negotiating. however. And what is more likely. if random number of model builders. calculation. distributed computing and object technology will advantage of simulation is that.e. Combined with an 4. in the light of computational industry. perform well 95% of the time? With the integration of optimization approaches and Companies that successfully adopt this kind of machine learning techniques. and communication.

Thus the trend towards easy model are what we would have liked to have at the modeling has been tempered by the inclusion of powerful beginning if we only had the combination of hardware features which can complement the easy modeling by power and graphics tools. analysis and down a new product that was deficient. We just want the simulation to do what we want it to do The simple interfaces to/from CAD. expect to see a design this field acknowledged experts do have significant team. using a mixture of tools including 5.2 Domain-specific Products area of responsibility on the overall manufacturing process. Solutions will be tried interactively.4 Graphics and Virtual Reality Fortunately for the larger group. the provision of equipment-based techniques can be expected to grow. The discrete event simulation marketplace is comprised of a small core of experts and a large shell of consumers.1. Similarly. but offers the more effective manner. unrealistic as this is. Simulation or DLLs. The links will become easier and more vendors should be trying not only to make their products generally available. However.1. In this world.6 Output Analysis main areas of promise. immersed entirely in the virtual world. Future evolutionary immersion and interaction with the simulation world is development will continue this trend largely because in still in its infancy. without the bother of telling it what we want it to do.1. it does point vendors in the simulation products. the and testing its manufacturing processes. but also to make them such that the model integration is often perceived as the reduction of behavior is easy to understand. IIE etc. The advantage to this kind of easy to use.. Firstly. The communication aspects of realistic. As for the running model.1. In the future. community of users formed by SCS. member of which has responsibility for part of the data and educating the team members as to the impact of their 5. databases etc. the experts have managed to impose a degree of rigor on simulation Virtual reality is simply the next stage in the user vendors.1 Ease of Use – Ease of Understanding behavioral logic that will be constructed with voice input. with a combination of shared and unique behavioral characteristics fits .3 Object-oriented Modeling average user. human communication. typically using techniques such as ASCII files product is. In general.1 Current Trends particularly well with the equipment-based modeling objects described above. three- smoke and mirrors or that would produce invalid results dimensional graphical representations of the simulation even when used properly. 5. the move towards the end user requires problem domain terminology and interfaces with two 5. the use of providing additional flexibility. complexity of the solution needs to be masked by an interface applicable to both the power user and the 5. spreadsheets. building influence on product acceptance. templates which typically provide generic modeling capability within a vertical The use of designed experiments and optimization industry. (see below) more often the without understanding how it operates. the mathematical end user a richer approach to easier modeling.1. The links to more specialized direction of products that assist the modeling and software tools such as process planners are already analysis processes. is a recipe for disaster.170 Banks 5.1. The capability to create classes of elements. and then real value is in bringing together a team of people.5 Interface to other Software Tools wants and with no effort or understanding involved. A feature common to all markets is the desire for a tool that solves a problem exactly the way an individual user 5. provides problems and improvement possibilities will be communication about products that would quickly shoot identified by a mixture of observation. such as specific robots with known goal-seeking in spreadsheets has clearly shown the desire performance capabilities. Simply building a model reentering data. Secondly. the easier it can be made to use. In general. it is important that the user has the tools to assist with an understanding The direction of object-oriented modeling fits well with of what is happening. The inclusion of modeling objects. each accepting the numeric results. Once again. the discrete-event simulation paradigm. The latter approach requires for tools to help sift through a range of possibilities in a more cooperation with equipment vendors. This has tended to filter out products that are interface. are now established as part of most Well. the more focused a available. However.

1. Human nature is to believe Integration with these other systems will force that the results of small changes can be foreseen without simulation software providers and users to rethink a detailed analysis. has been well documented and the return on investment More sophisticated tools allow a running model to be significant. Initial applications are The advances made in computer-based discrete event using this data to begin to define process flow and simulation so far tend to mask the poor progress that has operation times in models. Can increasing so. Integration between a case it might be needed quickly some day. creating a model. VRML 2 can For many years. while others predict overall system more is the attraction of a consistent and effective throughput or specific work center loading or job communication process for the various elements of the sequence.8 Expanded Use environment: integration with other applications. can be tremendously expensive. and more easily used by both process and the data associated with the process. in misinformation and errors.7 Internet Applications 6 WILLIAM R. LILEGDON. Most models represent the process. Another reason for this is that applications. As this trend continues. Understanding these performance issues organization.1. with run control more of an art form than an everyday tool due to the being passed from site to site as required. This requires more highly integrated before implementation can contribute to better product simulation tools as well as the ability to integrate with and process design. The Future of Simulation Software: A Panel Discussion 171 5. than a single major change. it does help reduce the model are thrown away. complicated nature of building and maintaining models. 6. is not very manufacturing planning system or software such as CAD attractive. While this data will not fully been made in ongoing use of simulation. simulation has been used by be used to pass around recordings of running 3D manufacturers to predict the impact of change on their simulations. Once the apparent urgency of a building time and increase its accuracy by eliminating situation has passed. and computer aided process planning for product development. A trend in the use of simulation that has really been tackled quite effectively is to get it more widely used.2 lnteroperability various organizational elements. However. and interoperability between simulation products. developed or marketed. the Building and analyzing models of manufacturing advances in ease and speed of use have allowed the tool processes requires a thorough understanding of both the to be more accepted. To be able to link simple conceptual modeling. PRITSKER Corporation There are already simulations keyed off browsers. simulation we find cost/benefits that encourage the ongoing use of applications will become less expensive and more simulation models? Some areas of promise are commonplace. are being used today. The removal of significant contributions to the bottom line. Also. The success of these projects or ‘fly’ around the virtual world as the simulation runs. design (CAD) for facility layout. Another area of promise is for companies to use simulation as a thread of communication between their 6. discrete-event simulation remains viewed simultaneously at several sites. Now experts and non-experts and often on projects where time that more manufacturers are implementing systems such scales are short so that in earlier days it would not have as enterprise resources planning (ERP). computer-aided been possible.1 Integration Education has contributed to this and the simulation vendors have often been at the forefront.2 Possibilities store data in an accessible format. To some extent this is because in many also means that the model can be updated with actual situations there is a continual 'creeping' change rather data from manufacturing systems. These recordings allow the viewer to ‘walk’ manufacturing processes. scheduling. Several research . simulation software can more easily access this data. Models that use data from the shop floor potential ongoing applications of simulation have not yet directly and automatically. the effort in maintaining a model. and been adequately explored. with different simulation tools. through focused highly Exchanging data between different simulation tools is an detailed modeling to the final big picture modeling is a emerging technological improvement that brings major attraction for senior management. representing the same scenario. However. Selected different modeling methods/repeated work to reduce simulation tools can predict tool path or robotic training time/duplication of effort is attractive but far performance. process monitoring and process control. other software. Two key technical developments may now change this 5. all of which 5. executed remotely and passing back data.

Systems Modeling Corp. From this common documentation. and highly database. manufacturing system design. has become a mainstream critical technology that helps packaging systems. the tools can provide their independent focused examples. non-manufacturing areas such as health care delivery Simulation technology has advanced to the point where it systems. transportation systems. robotic features in simulation tools. of the process.172 Banks programs and initiatives are underway that address this from initial data collection and analysis through model interoperability issue. We will see recommendation arrived at through the program-the simulation begin to reach its potential in the design and modification of a horizontal stabilizer assembly for F-16 analysis of a broad range of systems. Simulation software can follow the path of other 7. we will see continued simulations. The environments of application can use a common data definition for also provide computer-directed tutorials. The role of graphics in simulation has predictions of performance. This interoperability will lead to One of the important areas of focus for simulation dramatic shortening of the product and process design tools is data and program integration. general-purpose tools created for the manufacturing market. and business processes. performance. more In the past. The program was aimed at integrating and flowcharting systems. spreadsheets. This important availability of personal computers. context-sensitive help. The data for cycle and savings for the organizations that implement models typically reside in spreadsheets. and other sources. Simulation tools are becoming dramatically easier to Over the next five years. and schedule Over the next five years. 7. In the Microsoft® Windows® operating virtual manufacturing environment to reduce life cycle system environment. These efforts focus on creating building. In addition.1 Improving Tools template-based simulation tools for each of the primary vertical application areas. process performance. these tools also provide a total Simulation technology has traditionally been applied to project orientation that supports the simulation process the design and analysis of complex systems. The ability to access this The U. The program demonstrated total life cycle advancements in simulation tools move this technology cost savings of $3 billion. Along with the widespread wide variety of vertical applications. The dramatic success of simulation in manufacturing Over the past 35 years.2 Template Modeling design and analysis software that allow the sharing of data between applications. expansion of technology in enterprises throughout the world. there is frequently a need to possibilities of an integrated product and process design interface simulation models to other programs such as approach.3 Simulation-based Scheduling In addition to providing a dramatically simplified modeling environment. all using the same definition continued to expand and improve. online product and process information. The use for simulation in rapidly improve these systems. the trend is toward having dedicated 7. manufacturing was driven by the high cost of modern manufacturing systems combined with rapid changes in 7 DENNIS PEGDEN. verification and validation. many of the applications of simulation have accurate models of the systems they manage and can been for manufacturing. and as a result. project risk. Users get faster. design of environments where simulation tools with different areas experiments. In recent years. The first and ODBC integration technologies are providing the phase of this project demonstrated an integrated foundation for dramatic improvements in the integration simulation environment using CAD.465. The impact of one from a niche market to a mainstream market. databases. there has been skilled technology enthusiasts to a broad base of users in dramatic growth in the application of simulation in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing applications. simulation technology has moved systems has helped to expand simulation to other from the domain of a small group of highly technical and application areas. data analysis implementing modeling and simulation tools into a programs. and analysis of results. Although in large and small enterprises around the world reduce risks the past these applications have been modeled using and make better decisions.S. etc. fighter planes represents a net savings of $885. this ease-of-use trend will expand this technology to a wide a range of component has been the primary factor creating the rapid users. template-based simulation learn and use. Within this . corporate these technologies. the barrier to new users has tools will continue to drive new simulation products for a been reduced significantly. the Object Linking and Embedding costs in the development of fighter aircraft. communication systems. Air Force-sponsored Simulation Assessment data directly from within a model is a very important Validation Environment (SAVE) has demonstrated the capability.

use its system model to examine the system status at some time in the future. In virtually all of the areas suggested to the panelists. and since software capability is increasing as more developers are advancing the state of the art.4 Real-time Control A new and evolving area for simulation technology is real-time applications. simulation JERRY BANKS was General Chair of WSC’83 and offers a number of compelling advantages over these was a member of the Board of WSC for eight years. These messages allow the model and real system to remain synchronized. Over the next five years. the performance of entirely new systems. Crossing the Chasm. If this panel is reconvened in one year. the model exchanges messages with the controller (either a computer or a person). simulation applications have been expanded to include real-time factory scheduling. simulation is a competitor for existing finite-capacity scheduling systems. . Over the next decade. In this context. In this case. The Future of Simulation Software: A Panel Discussion 173 context. simulation-based real-time control systems will move from "cutting-edge. However. Within AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY this context.. During execution. simulation is used to analyze proposed design REFERENCE concepts. Changes are occurring rapidly. 8 CONCLUSION Simulation software is dynamic. large strides are forecasted. HarperBusiness. New York More recently. A simulation-based control system has a number of important advantages over traditional control systems. Geoffrey A. 1991. traditional finite-capacity scheduling systems. at any point in time. Simulation is used in this way both to evaluate improvements to existing systems as well as to evaluate Moore. Although simulation-based real-time control systems are in their infancy. we will see a dramatic increase in the application of simulation technology to scheduling as the benefits of this technology become more widely understood and accepted. the simulation model is purposely slowed down to run in real time and to execute in parallel to the real system. One very important advantage is that a simulation-based control system can. 7. including two years as Board Chair. they show great promise for the future. the simulation model is used to control a real system. the responses will evolve greatly since the hardware is increasing in its capability allowing for increases in the capability of software. These messages are also used by the model to issue commands to the real system to initiate specific tasks. Simulation-based scheduling tools will be deployed in both stand-alone mode and as part of a broader Enterprise Resource Planning environment." to a proven and widely deployed technology.