About the Project

The overall purpose of FastFix is to provide software applications with a maintenance environment featuring the highest time  efficiency at the lowest cost and the strongest accuracy. To this effect, FastFix will develop a platform and a set of tools that will monitor on-line customer environments, collecting information on program execution and user interaction, with the objective of identifying symptoms of execution errors, performance degradation or changes in user behaviour. By use of correlation techniques, the platform will also allow for failure replication in order to identify incorrect execution patterns, patch generation and patch deployment.

The rationale

Software maintenance and support services are key factors to customer’s perception of software product quality. Besides, maintenance and support services constitute a growing percentage of the software business market. Business models are changing for software vendors: from license centred to services centred. This trend can be particularly observed in the case of Open Source software, where licenses are very often free of charge and services represent the major source of income.

The solution

In the FastFix project we will develop a platform and a set of tools that will monitor online customer environments, gathering information on program execution and user interaction, with the objective of identifying execution errors symptoms, performance degradation or changes in user behaviour. By use of correlation
techniques, this platform would also allow for failure replication, in order to identify incorrect execution patterns, patch generation and patch deployment. The primarily goal of FastFix is therefore to facilitate a more time- and cost- efficient maintenance services of software applications.In order to do that, we will develop and set up mechanisms to get all the necessary information about application execution, errors, context and user behaviour. These mechanisms will be applicable to both new and existing applications, non intrusive and pose minor, acceptable burden on performance.
The gathered information would be sent in real time to a support centre.

As this implies that both data about execution and input/output information would travel through Internet, we will take a special care on data privacy and security issues.
Once this information is available in the support centre, it will be used to replicate errors, taking into account all the gathered context information and, using correlation techniques and error ontologies. FastFix platform will then identify behaviour patterns and possible causes of error. At its best, this platform will be able to automatically generate patches for the errors. These patches will consist on application modifications, changes in system configuration or parameterization or even functionality limitation in order to avoid system or application crashes. Patches will be sent back to the application’s run environment and will be applied automatically, resulting in a self-healing software application.

Four main lines of research are fundamental for the FastFix project and constitute the core of innovation activities:

Context elicitation and user modelling: determines which and how  information on execution and interaction is going to be gathered independently from the  application and its environment.

Event correlation: determines how the gathered information is going to be used todraw conclusions about the kind of problems the application is facing and what possible causes are. 

Fault replication: provides the platform that allows replicating errors as close to the real circumstances as possible.


Patch generation and self-healing: determines which and how patches are going to be generated, and how they will be deployed to the application at the runtime environment. 

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