Cloning is widely used for creating new product variants. While it has low adoption costs, it often leads to maintenance problems. Long term reliance on cloning is discouraged in favor of systematic reuse offered by product line engineering (PLE) with a central platform integrating all reusable assets. Unfortunately, adopting an integrated platform requires a risky and costly migration. However, industrial experience shows that some benefits of an integrated platform can be achieved by properly managing a set of cloned variants. In this paper, we propose an incremental and minimally invasive PLE adoption strategy called virtual platform. Virtual platform covers a spectrum of strategies between ad-hoc clone and own and PLE with a fully-integrated platform divided into six governance levels. Transitioning to a governance level requires some effort and it provides some incremental benefits. We discuss tradeoffs among the levels and illustrate the strategy on an example implementation.
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