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Embracing Our Competitors with the Connections Program

Comments(1)Filed under: Functional Verification, VIP, verification, EDA360, Duolog, NextOp, Zocalo, verification alliance, VA, partnerships, collaboration, Connections, interoperabilityIn my last blog post, I described the Cadence Verification Alliance (VA) and how it provides value to customers, VA members, and us. I've been pleasantly surprised at the readership numbers given that this is what radio commentator Paul Harvey used to call "shop talk" when he discussed his own industry. I believe it's important for EDA users to know that their vendors and ecosystem partners put a great deal of effort into working together. We don't do this work just to sit around and sing "Kumbaya" with our competitors -- we do it because our customers need us to do it.

The truth is that very few customers have a single-vendor EDA environment. For any number of technical or business reasons they have tools, design IP, verification IP, and libraries from multiple sources. Users look to the EDA industry to reduce their integration effort by validating that products from different vendors interoperate and work well together. Virtually all EDA vendors have agreements with complementary suppliers as well as competitors, often exchanging tools so that each pair of products linked together can be validated by both vendors.

At Cadence, our EDA interoperability program is called Connections, and it's one of the largest such alliances in the industry. We have roughly 80 member companies today; that number moves up and down a bit over time as existing companies merge or fail and as new startups emerge. Scan through the list, and you'll see that we are quite inclusive. Many Connections members have products that are directly competitive with Cadence offerings, but that is not a fundamental barrier to joining the program. As noted above, we do what our customers need us to do.

The most important criterion for joining Connections is identification of mutual customers who are asking for the interoperability testing possible only when two vendors exchange tools. Sure, I would love it if every one of our simulation customers used only Cadence solutions. But that's not reality; we have some e customers who run Specman with other simulators, some mixed-signal customers who run our digital simulator with someone else's analog simulator, and vice-versa. We always try to offer a better combined solution ourselves, but that will never satisfy everyone.

Of course, there are also some Connections members whose products are mostly or entirely complementary with ours. In my series on automatic assertions I mentioned NextOp and Zocalo as examples of vendors in this space, and we recently presented a joint Webinar with Duolog. All three companies are in Connections and are fine examples of partners with complementary offerings and with whom we do joint marketing activities. If we can offer customers a broader solution by working together with another vendor, we're glad to do so.

If you haven't read about EDA alliances before, you may be surprised that we have so many of each other's tools. The agreements are carefully written so that we don't reverse-engineer our competitor's products or otherwise take unfair advantage of having them. In my dozen years in EDA, I can recall only one incident in which a partner blatantly violated such an agreement by benchmarking my company's tool against their own competitive offering. That's the exception; these alliances work because we focus on interoperability testing (only) for the benefit of our mutual customers.

So now I've shared the "secrets" of both the Verification Alliance and the Connections Program. You can read about a closely related program, the System Realization Alliance, from my colleague Steve Brown and see the complete scope of our ecosystem activities on our Web site. If you have any questions or wish to suggest additional partners or ideas for alliances, please comment. As you can imagine, we bloggers are a lot happier when we see a few comments rolling in, so don't be shy!

Tom A.

The truth is out there...sometimes it's in a blog.



By Dal Locke on December 12, 2011
I am the owner of dalTools LLC.  Please take a minute to look at our website.  These are tools that work with Cadence Allegro to improve the PCB design process dramatically.  I would very much like to join the connections program.  If you think this company is a candidate for the connections program please contact me through the web site.  Thank you,  Dal Locke

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