Concepts & Objectives
The name for this project, Artifact-Centric Service Interoperation (ACSI) is based on the two fundamental constructs used in our new framework, namely, interoperation hub and (dynamic) artifact (also known as “business artifact” or "business entity"). An interoperation hub serves as a virtual rendezvous for multiple services that are to work together towards a common goal. Domain-specific interoperation hubs such as the EasyChair conference submission management system or Salesforce.com have already shown the value of interoperation hubs; the research here will make it possible to easily create, launch, participate in, and maintain ACSI interoperation hubs in essentially any application domain. Similar to EasyChair, an ACSI interoperation hub will serve as the anchor for a collaboration environment, that is, an IT environment used to support large numbers of service collaborations that operate independently, but which focus on essentially equivalent common goals. Unlike orchestrators, an interoperation hub works well in the context of open service networks. These hubs are primarily reactive, serving as a kind of structured white board that participating services can refer to, that can be updated with information relevant to the group, that can assist the services by carrying out selected tasks, and that can notify services of key events.
The interoperation hubs used here will be structured around dynamic artifacts. These provide an holistic marriage of data and process, both treated as first-class citizens, as the basic building block for modeling, specifying, and implementing services and business processes. In the context of single enterprises, it has shown that the use of artifacts can lead to substantial cost savings in the design and deployment of business operations and processes, and can dramatically improve communication between stakeholders, especially in cases where they represent different “silos” of the enterprise. Artifacts can give an end-to-end view of how key conceptual business entities evolve as they move through the business operations, in many cases across two or more silo’s. As a result, artifacts can substantially simplify the management of “hand-off” of data and processing between services and organizations. A key pillar of the ACSI research is to generalize the advantages of artifacts to the context of interoperation hubs and service collaborations.
The ACSI project will develop targeted scientific foundations, techniques, and tools that will simplify the creation and maintenance of collaboration environments in the following measurable ways: