Tuesday, July 3, 2012


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Software Maintenance

By David Peover 141010

The overall objective of software maintenance is to help the customer use all the activities of the software that they have bought or that they have had developed.

Software maintenance begins at the start of the development process and continues right the way through to the delivery stage and effectively never actually ends. The reason that software maintenance continues even after the product is finished is because of the different levels that software maintenance has. One such example is updating software. It can be easier to update software than to write a completely new program. One company that does this is Microsoft. Microsoft continually update all of there programs from windows through to internet explorer. The most obvious maintenance to any of their products would be their updates to the windows program. For example windows 5 was updated to windows 8 and so on. Microsoft will continue to maintain windows into the future by updating the program rather than writing a new program. Therefore the origins of the newest version can be traced right back to the original even after all of the modifications added to the versions in between.

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Software maintenance can be divided up into four types adaptive, perfective, corrective and emergency.

o Adaptive maintenance is to maintain the software according to changes in the situation in which the software is being used

o Perfective maintenance tries to improve the software by making it easier for the user in someway.

o Corrective maintenance is to fix a problem that the software may have. The problem may arise from programming errors or from viruses.

o Emergency maintenance is to correct a problem immediately to prevent loss of earning, life or property.

A problem that can arise is knowing if what is needed is maintenance or development. Therefore it is very important to know and understand the customers’ needs. When you receive the customer requirements the first step is to see what the best course of action is. Either to maintain the current software to enable to carry out the new tasks the user needs or to write new software to meet the requirements of the user. The most likely and common solution is to maintain or update existing software. This is also the cheapest way in most cases.

Companies which use computers or develop programs will spend huge amounts of money on software maintenance and would rather they didn’t have to but it is simply a necessity and a must for such business. software maintenance is so expensive because it requires that people work for long periods of time constantly maintaining all software. It is commonly explained simply with the Phillips law of software

Software outlives hardware

It is because of the rate at which hardware is developed that software maintenance is so expensive. When hardware moves forward through development the software needs to be maintained so it can provide the best results for the user that the new hardware is capable of. An example of this is the word processors of today. These programs are all based on the original programs made thirty years ago the only difference is that they have been maintained so that the software is at as high a standard as possible.

Another reason for the expense of software maintenance is the fact that it is difficult. Software maintenance is difficult because either the user is demanding or because the software wasn’t written to be maintained or because of both. The user can often need changes made to the software to cope with new requirements and may want too many changes at one time. Also the fact that programmers develop the program to work and not to be maintained. To the programmer it is easy to read because they wrote it. To anyone else it can cause difficulty. Then if both of these problems occur it can create a long maintenance program and therefore high expense.

To get round one of these problems is for the development team to follow five objectives

o Clear and simple design

o Clean, readable code

o Complete and readable documentation

o Use of standards

o Complete, easy to use suite

Even if all of these objectives are met software maintenance will still be expensive.

The diagram below shows optimistic and realistic estimates for development and maintenance of a software system.

Optimistic Estimate

Year 1 4 5 6 7 8

Persons 10 1 1 1 4 1 1 1 4

$K/Person 150 150 165 180 00 0 50 80 00

Total $K 1500 150 165 180 800 0 50 80 100

Realistic Estimate

Year 1 4 5 6 7 8

Persons 10 1 1 10 1 1 10 1 1

$K/Person 150 150 165 180 00 0 50 80 00

Total $K 1500 150 165 1800 00 0 500 80 00

This example shows a product that started at $1.5 million. Even the optimistic estimate shows a 68% rise of maintenance cost to $. million in nine years and the realistic estimate shows a rise of 80% to $5.6 million. I used this example to show that there is simply no way around the expense of software maintenance.

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