Research

The backbone for CINCO group work and resutls arises from i) infrastructure (middleware) for interoperability facilitation, ii) service-oriented approach for software engineering, and iii) construction of a framework archiecture for service ecosystems where the first two principles are utilised.

Service ecosystems architectures

A service ecosystem is a consortia of organisations that jointly 

  • provide facilities  and metainformation for forming temporary collaborations where multiple members can dynamically compose together their business services; 
  • form rules about the acceptable collaboration forms and behaviour within them;  and
  • rely on shared interoperability utilities.

Depending on the type of service ecosystem the cooperation logics differ. Examples include virtual organisation breeding environments, open service ecosystems, and often featurees of business ecosystems and innovation ecosystems need to be intertwined.

The goal of the research is to enable more mature service ecosystem architectures to support modern business models, global collaborations, mixed public-private collaborations. Maturity is enhanced by applying modern technologies and scientific results into the engineering tools, automation of negotiation and monitoring of collaboration actiavities, and governance of the collaborations and ecosystems. Facitities for interoperability are found from services sciences, model-driven engineering, reflective systems, and case management.

Interoperability utilities

In an environment (like a service ecosystem) where multiple organisations make peer business services available for each other, automation on interoperability support and collaboration administration are both plausible and required. 

In the area of interoperability, we focus especially on serivce interoperability, addressing the levels of technical, semantic and pragmatic  interoperability. Technical interoperabiity enables exchange of messages between peers, while semantic interoperability means that the message elements and addressed service identities are interpreted the same way. Pragmatic interoperability is associated with the similar understanding of business processes taking place between the peers, and furthermore, willingness of the peers to commit into this cobehaviour.

With utilities supporting these interoperability levels, collaboration between the business services is achieved: the services can exchange information and proposals, request services and negotiate, and make commitments with each other. 

While many of the interoperability solutions rely on ontologies, we take a step further and rely on metamodel hierarchies instead. This allows automatic checks at commitment time and monitoring at runtime, thus providing capabilities for enfocing correctness and conformance both on technical and business perspectives. 

Business transactions

In inter-enterprise collaboration, business transactions are a central concept. However, traditional business process engines and database transactions neither suffice for the needs. We have redefined the business transaction concept in a way that allows systematic utilities to be built.

Trust and privacy management

In networked business, technical facilities allow composition of services into business processes across the temporary collaborations. While the supporting facilities of a service ecosystem helps organisations to reach new partners and thus enhance their business, they hesitate due to trust issues. Business is based on trust. Therefore, computational solutions that allow forming trust towards new partners are necessary. 

Even in a trusted collaboration relationship, organisations are not ready to share all their secrets: private information, partnerships, manufacturing routines, resources, business model details. For each business transaction, control of privacy preservation must be associated.

Regulation within service ecosystems

While it is often claimed that within Internet ecosystems organise themselves organisally, this is not an acceptble state of affairs in business or in other systems that must follow national laws or directives of other units. Currently, it is difficult to express legal system restrictions in a computable way and therefore difficult to restrict inter-enterprise collaborations behaviour based on the natural language law texts. 

Regulation of the collaborations can still be embedded into the generic utilities of service ecosystems.

Publications

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