Reliability is one of the most, if not the most important quality attribute of a system; customers rank the reliability of their cars frequently as the most important quality attribute. Failing to provide on reliability can greatly impact your reputation and incur immense costs.
Reliability prediction and analysis for traditional systems whose functions are mainly implemented by hardware components can be assessed component-Wise: the reliability of the system will be determined by the reliability of its components - if you increase the reliability of the components of such a system, you will, in general, increase the reliability of the system. The reliability of a more complex system, whose functions are implemented by Hardware and Software components, however, is dependent on the interaction of the components and thus of the behaviour of the system. To understand and increase the system’s reliability, it is thus crucial to understand its behaviour.
Challenge: Understanding the behaviour of a system can be more challenging and needs more effort during the reliability analysis.
Opportunity: Some characteristics of complex systems can be exploited for your benefit. With a good understanding of the system's behaviour overall cost-effective solutions can be used to implement a system with comparable reliability. How?
1.) You can design the system to cope with degraded modes of its components.
2.) You can implement automatic re-setting of components and thus allow for re-bounding of your system.
3.) You can foresee degraded modes of your system during ordinary operation (the partial failure of your system has no impact on its main function).
4.) You can exploit advanced maintainability concepts (remote re-setting, quick replacement due to the efficient diagnosis of failures).
As indicated above, you can harness the behaviour of a system if you understand it sufficiently (we do not dare to write, completely). Functional analysis is an effective method for understanding the system's behaviour in its intended environment. Reliability analysis - based on a functional analysis - can support you in harnessing the opportunities of developing increasingly complex systems.
Invest in the analysis of your system’s behaviour to exploit the degrees of freedom and deliver a reliable product at optimal costs.
If you are now thinking, "What is it about this analysis of my system? I will let big/smart data do this analysis." Keep in mind: Correlation of big data without an understanding of the system's behaviour leads you to ambiguous results. Think of the famous relationship from Robert Matthews about the highly statistically significant correlation between stork populations and human birth rates across Europe [link].