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[PhD Thesis] A Programming System for Process Coordination in Virtual Organisations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Woodman


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Distributed business applications are increasingly being constructed by composing them from services provided by various online businesses. Typically, this leads to trading partners coming together to form virtual organizations (VOs). Each member of a VO maintains their autonomy, except with respect to their agreed goals. The structure of the Virtual Organisation may contain one dominant organisation who dictates the method of achieving the goals or the members may be considered peers of equal importance. The goals of VOs can be defined by the shared global business processes they contain. To be able to execute these business processes, VOs require a flexible enactment model as there may be no single ‘owner’ of the business process and therefore no natural place to enact the business processes. One solution is centralised enactment using a trusted third party, but in some cases this may not be acceptable (for instance because of security reasons). This thesis will present a programming system that allows centralised as well as distributed enactment where each organisation enacts part of the business process. To achieve distributed enactment we must address the problem of specifying the business process in a manner that is amenable to distribution. The first contribution of this thesis is the presentation of the Task Model, a set of languages and notations for describing workflows that can be enacted in a centralised or decentralised manner. The business processes that we specify will coordinate the services that each organisation owns. The second contribution of this thesis is the presentation of a method of describing the observable behaviour of these services. The language we present, SSDL, provides a flexible and extensible way of describing the messaging behaviour of Web Services. We present a method for checking that a set of services described in SSDL are compatible with each other and also that a workflow interacts with a service in the desired manner. The final contribution of this thesis is the presentation of an abstract architecture and prototype implementation of a decentralised workflow engine. The prototype is able to enact workflows described in the Task Model notation in either a centralised or decentralised scenario.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woodman S

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2008

Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne