An Interview with Jeffrey Fortin, Head of Product Management

Anna Barcelos

November 21, 2016

Vector Software recently welcomed Jeffrey Fortin as its new head of product management. Jeff comes to Vector Software after more than 16 years at Wind River, most recently as director of product management, where he oversaw product planning and strategy for Wind River’s Intelligent Device Platform (IDP), an Internet of Things (IoT) gateway software product. He previously led Wind River field teams focused on Industrial, Medical, IoT, and Aerospace and Defense applications as director of field engineering, and held engineering roles at LynuxWorks and Raytheon.

We recently spoke with Jeff to learn more about his thoughts on current software development challenges, trends, and what he is excited about tackling now that he is part of the Vector Software team.

What is one of the software development industry challenges that currently has your attention?

I see a lot of companies leveraging information to drive product and business decisions. This business transformation provides many new ways for identifying and solving problems very quickly. However, as we have continually seen not just in regulated industries but also with the growth in technologies such as IoT, this can’t be done in a quality vacuum. Recent events such as the DDOS Mirai Botnet attack using simple household appliances are evidence of this. With an information-driven business, software quality measurements are not limited to the development phase but are ongoing throughout the lifecycle of the device as new quality standards are expected.

There is a tremendous opportunity for rapid innovation with high quality. For example, from a software development point of view, many organizations are embracing DevOps and continuous integration as part of that. Continuous integration is the process by which an organization’s code and software artifacts are tested early and often. This process helps ensure that any potential defects are found “early and often” so that only high quality software is released out into the field.  This gives businesses increased confidence when it comes to product release and updates.

What is an industry trend that you find interesting?

I am interested in the conversations happening around test-driven development, which is a software development methodology where test isn’t an afterthought as it often is in many cases.  With test-driven development, tests are designed up front -- before any code is written. It helps developers to think through application interface requirements and designs before implementation of the interface is written, and the ideas I have seen coming out of these instances are very creative. The process injects quality very early on in the software development lifecycle so testing isn’t afterthought; instead it is done up front so there an assessment of quality from beginning. It also helps to save time and money as it helps to prove a potential design before any capital is spent on the implementation of that design.

Can you highlight a customer problem/challenge that you have recently come across?

There is a current industry trend of using large software code bases either from open source or third parties. For developers, leveraging or reusing software that was not developed by them creates a pressing need to be able to qualify and assess the value of that software being brought into the design. If they wrote the code themselves, a developer would have a lot of insight into how it works- but in the absence of that, particularly with large code bases, that is a luxury.  The requirement to assess the quality of that code base still exists nonetheless, and developers need the right tools to be able to effectively do that. 

In terms of your current role, what are you most excited about right now?

At Vector Software, our product capabilities open up a lot of new growth areas for us. Vector Software’s traditional customers have been in regulated industries and we continue to be very strong in those markets. There are also now many new industries engaged in business-critical software development that have a mandate from their users, rather than the government, to ensure that their embedded software systems are operating with the highest quality and without disruption.

I look forward to working with the Vector Software team to help all of our current customers and these new market segments to take control and dramatically improve their software quality, even in the most complex and dynamic embedded software environments.