Reconfiguration Management Design Pattern


Decouple the use of a redundant functionality from the management and implementation of the redundancy switching logic.

Based On

This pattern is essentially identical to the reconfiguration management pattern of the AOCS Framework (see also: A. Pasetti, Embedded Control Systems and Software Frameworks, Springer-Verlag, 2002).


If the same functionality can be implemented in two or more independent ways, then the functionality is said to be redundant. A redundant functionality can be reconfigured. Reconfiguration means switching between different independent implementations of the same functionality.

Reconfigurability is often used in OBS applications to provide robustness to faults. This is typically done for external sensors and actuators. When a fault is detected in one of these units, a reconfiguration is performed that replaces the faulty unit with its redundant pair. The concept proposed here is more general and can be applied to any functionality for which several implementations are available.

The functionalities that must be reconfigurable and the way in which reconfigurations are performed are obviously application-specific. The problem addressed by this design pattern is to define an application-independent mechanism for handling reconfigurations in a generic manner.

Dictionary Entries

The following abstractions or domain-wide concepts are defined to support the implementation of this design pattern:


Functionalities are implemented as services provided by components. The functionality with respect to which reconfiguration takes place is called the reconfigurable functionality. Conceptually, this can be represented by an abstract interface ReconfigurableFunctionality.

Two types of clients are involved in this design pattern. The functionality client that is interested in accessing the reconfigurable functionality and the reconfiguration client which is interested in performing reconfigurations. The main objective of the design pattern is to allow the functionality client to access the reconfigurable functionality without being aware that it is reconfigurable and without being aware of which particular implementation (among the multiple redundant implementations) is in force at a particular point in time.

In order to achieve this objective, a new component is introduced - the ReconfigurationManager. This component implements the ReconfigurableFunctionality interface and therefore "looks like" a provider of the reconfigurable functionality. The multiple (and equivalent) implementations of the reconfigurable functionality are provided by the Redundant components. At any given time, one of these is selected by the reconfiguration manager as the active redundant component. The reconfiguration manager implements the reconfigurable functionality by delegating it to the currently active redundant component.

The reconfiguration manager implements a second interface - Reconfigurable - that represents the "face" it offers to the reconfiguration client. This interface declares the operations that are required to handle the reconfiguration process. The key operation is reconfigure that is called by the reconfiguration client to start a reconfiguration. In response to a call to this operation, the reconfiguration manager reviews the available implementations of the reconfigurable functionality and decides whether a new implementation should be selected.



The reconfiguration managers plays two roles and there are two typical collaboration sequences in which it is involved. The first one arises when a functionality client needs to access the reconfigurable functionality:

  1. The functionality access the functionality through the reconfiguration manager (which it sees as an instance of type ReconfigurableFunctionality).
  2. The reconfiguration manager identifies the currently active redundant component and forwards to it the client request.
The second collaboration arises when a reconfiguration client wishes to command a reconfiguration:
  1. The reconfiguration client sends a reconfiguration request to the reconfiguration manager (which it sees as an instance of type Reconfigurable).
  2. The reconfiguration manager checks whether a reconfiguration is possible and, if so, it changes its currently active redundant component.



There is a need to handle reconfigurable functionality and it is desired to make the application independent of which functionalities are reconfigurable.

Implementation Issues

The class diagram shown above implies a situation where the reconfiguration manager implements two abstract interfaces. In a language like C++, this requires use of multiple inheritance. If multiple inheritance is not allowed, an implementation as in the figure can be used:

The reconfiguration manager now becomes only responsible for selecting an abstract configuration. A separate component is responsible for using this information to re-route accesses to the reconfiguration functionality to the appropriate redundant component.

With the implementation suggested in the previous paragraph, the reconfiguration management pattern becomes very similar to the mode management pattern. The reconfiguration manager then plays the role of the mode manager and a reconfiguration becomes equvalent to a change of operational mode.

The redundant class in the class diagrams encapsulates the implementation of the reconfigurable functionality. There must be several alternative, but functionally equivalent, implementations of this functionality. These can be provided by different instances of the same class or by instances of different subclasses of the same super class.

OBS Framework Mapping

The implementation of this design pattern in the OBS Framework is supported by the following classes:

Sample Code

Consider a reconfiguration manager that must handle two redundant sensors. Its key methods could be implemented as follows:

class SensorReconfigurer : public Reconfigurable {
	Sensor sensor[2];
	bool isHealthy[2];
	Sensor* activeSensor;

	. . .
	void reconfigure() {
	   if ( (activeSensor == sensor[0]) && (isHealthy[1]) ) {
	      activeSensor = sensor[1];
	      isHealthy[0] = false;
	   if ( (activeSensor == sensor[1]) && (isHealthy[0]) ) {
	      activeSensor = sensor[0];
	      isHealthy[1] = false;

	Data getSensorData() {
This reconfiguration manager keeps track of the health status of the sensors it manages and it performs a switch to the non-active sensor if it is healthy. Otherwise it does nothing.

Reconfigurations are often initiated by telecommand. If the telecommand management design pattern is used to implement telecommands, then a reconfiguration telecommand can be constructed as follows:

class ReconfigTc : public Telecommand {
	Reconfigurable* r;
	. . .
	void execute() {
Note that the telecommand is defined in terms of an abstract reconfiguration manager of type Reconfigurable. This makes it possible to use the same telecommand to reconfigure different types of reconfiguration functions.




A. Pasetti (P&P Software)

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