Tag Archives: semantic interoperability

Call for Submissions

By Patty Donovan, The Open Group

The Open Group Blog is celebrating its second birthday this month! Over the past few years, our blog posts have tended to cover Open Group activities – conferences, announcements, our lovely members, etc. While several members and Open Group staff serve as regular contributors, we’d like to take this opportunity to invite our community members to share their thoughts and expertise on topics related to The Open Group’s areas of expertise as guest contributors.

Here are a few examples of popular guest blog posts that we’ve received over the past year

Blog posts generally run between 500 and 800 words and address topics relevant to The Open Group workgroups, forums, consortiums and events. Some suggested topics are listed below.

  • ArchiMate®
  • Big Data
  • Business Architecture
  • Cloud Computing
  • Conference recaps
  • DirectNet
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Enterprise Management
  • Future of Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™)
  • Governing Board Businesses
  • Governing Board Certified Architects
  • Governing Board Certified IT Specialists
  • Identity Management
  • IT Security
  • The Jericho Forum
  • The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF)
  • Quantum Lifecycle Management
  • Real-Time Embedded Systems
  • Semantic Interoperability
  • Service-Oriented Architecture
  • TOGAF®

If you have any questions or would like to contribute, please contact opengroup (at) bateman-group.com.

Please note that all content submitted to The Open Group blog is subject to The Open Group approval process. The Open Group reserves the right to deny publication of any contributed works. Anything published shall be copyright of The Open Group.

Patricia Donovan is Vice President, Membership & Events, at The Open Group and a member of its executive management team. In this role she is involved in determining the company’s strategic direction and policy as well as the overall management of that business area. Patricia joined The Open Group in 1988 and has played a key role in the organization’s evolution, development and growth since then. She also oversees the company’s marketing, conferences and member meetings. She is based in the U.S.

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Improve Data Quality and Enable Semantic Interoperability by Adopting the UDEF

By Ron Schuldt, UDEF-IT, LLC

For many years I have been promoting UDEF as an enabler for semantic interoperability. The problem with being an early adopter of UDEF where the benefit is semantic interoperability is that multiple systems need to adopt UDEF before you can begin to realize the benefits. The semantic interoperability benefit is realized by leveraging the UDEF ID that is language and application independent.

Within the last seven or eight months, I realized that UDEF provides an immediate benefit – specifically, when you follow the six basic steps of mapping your data to the UDEF, you improve the clarity of the name associated with the data. The UDEF name adds substantial clarity when compared to the typically cryptic names assigned to fields within an application. The garbage-in, garbage-out problem is likely heavily affected by poor names assigned to the fields. UDEF is a means for correcting the poor names issue which gives the early adopters of UDEF an immediate benefit while enabling the system for interoperability.

Semantic interoperability is one of the topics being discussed at The Open Group Conference, Austin, currently underway this week.

Ron Schuldt is a Senior Partner of UDEF-IT, LLC. He has more twenty years experience with national and international data standards covering the gamut from Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). He is Chairman of The Open Group UDEF Project.

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An SOA Unconference

By Dr. Chris Harding, The Open Group

Monday at The Open Group Conference in San Diego was a big day for Interoperability, with an Interoperability panel session, SOA and Cloud conference streams, meetings of SOA and UDEF project teams, and a joint meeting with the IEEE on next-generation UDEF. The Tuesday was quieter, with just one major interoperability-related session: the SOACamp. The pace picks up again today, with a full day of Cloud meetings, followed by a Thursday packed with members meetings on SOA, Cloud, and Semantic Interoperability.

Unconferences

The SOACamp was an unstructured meeting, based on the CloudCamp Model, for SOA practitioners and people interested in SOA to ask questions and share experiences.

CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. The CloudCamp organization is responsible for these events. They are frequent and worldwide; 19 events have been held or arranged so far for the first half of 2011 in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, Spain, Turkey, and the USA. The Open Group has hosted CloudCamps at several of its Conferences, and is hosting one at its current conference in San Diego today.

What is an unconference? It is an event that follows an unscripted format in which topics are proposed and presented by volunteers, with the agenda being made up on the fly to address whatever the attendees most want to discuss. This format works very well for Cloud, and we thought we would give it a try for SOA.

The SOA Hot Topics

So what were the SOA hot topics? Volunteers gave 5-minute “lightning talks” on five issues, which were then considered as the potential agenda items for discussion:

  • Does SOA Apply to Cloud service models?
  • Vendor-neutral framework for registry/repository access to encourage object re-use
  • Fine-grained policy-based authorization for exposing data in the Cloud
  • Relation of SOA to Cloud Architecture
  • Are all Cloud architectures SOA architectures?

The greatest interest was in the last two of these, and they were taken together as a single agenda item for the whole meeting: SOA and Cloud Architecture. The third topic, fine-grained policy-based authorization for exposing data in the Cloud, was considered to be more Cloud-related than SOA-related, and it was agreed to keep it back for the CloudCamp the following day. The other two topics, SOA and Cloud service models and vendor-neutral framework for registry/repository access were considered by separate subgroups meeting in parallel.

The discussions were lively and raised several interesting points.

SOA and Cloud Architecture

Cloud is a consumption and delivery model for SOA, but Cloud and SOA services are different. All Cloud services are SOA services, but not all SOA services are Cloud services, because Cloud services have additional requirements for Quality of Service (QoS) and delivery consumption.

Cloud requires a different approach to QoS. Awareness of the run-time environment and elasticity is crucial for Cloud applications.

Cloud architectures are service-oriented, but they need additional architectural building blocks, particularly for QoS. They may be particularly likely to use a REST-ful approach, but this is still service-oriented.

A final important point is that, within a service-oriented architecture, the Cloud is transparent to the consumer. The service consumer ultimately should not care whether a service is on the Cloud.

Vendor-Neutral Framework for Registry/Repository Access

The concept of vendor-neutral access to SOA registries and repositories is good, but it requires standard data models and protocols to be effective.

The Open Group SOA ontology has proved a good basis for a modeling framework.

Common methods for vendor-neutral access could help services in the Cloud connect to multiple registries and repositories.

Does SOA Apply to Cloud service Models?

The central idea here is that the cloud service models – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) – could be defined as services in the SOA sense, with each of them exposing capabilities through defined interfaces.

This would require standards in three key areas: metrics/QoS, brokering/subletting, and service prioritization.

Is The Open Group an appropriate forum for setting and defining Cloud customer and provider standards? It has a standards development capability. The key determining factor is the availability of member volunteers with the relevant expertise.

Are Unconferences Good for Discussing SOA?

Cloud is an emerging topic while SOA is a mature one, and this affected the nature of the discussions. The unconference format is great for enabling people to share experience in new topic areas. The participants really wanted to explore new developments rather than compare notes on SOA practice, and the result of this was that the discussion mostly focused on the relation of SOA to the Cloud. This wasn’t what we expected – but resulted in some good discussions, exposing interesting ideas.

So is the unconference format a good one for SOA discussions? Yes it is – if you don’t need to produce a particular result. Just go with the flow, and let it take you and SOA to interesting new places.

Cloud and SOA are a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, San Diego, which is currently underway.

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing. Before joining The Open Group, he was a consultant, and a designer and development manager of communications software. With a PhD in mathematical logic, he welcomes the current upsurge of interest in semantic technology, and the opportunity to apply logical theory to practical use. He has presented at Open Group and other conferences on a range of topics, and contributes articles to on-line journals. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE, and the AOGEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

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The golden thread of interoperability

By Dr. Chris Harding, The Open Group

There are so many things going on at every Conference by The Open Group that it is impossible to keep track of all of them, and this week’s Conference in San Diego, California, is no exception. The main themes are Cybersecurity, Enterprise Architecture, SOA and Cloud Computing. Additional topics range from Real-Time and Embedded Systems to Quantum Lifecycle Management. But there are a number of common threads running through all of those themes, relating to value delivered to IT customers through open systems. One of those threads is Interoperability.

Interoperability Panel Session

The interoperability thread showed strongly in several sessions on the opening day of the conference, Monday Feb. 7, starting with a panel session on Interoperability Challenges for 2011 that I was fortunate to have been invited to moderate.

The panelists were Arnold van Overeem of Capgemini, chair of the Architecture Forum’s Interoperability project, Ron Schuldt, the founder of UDEF-IT and chair of the Semantic Interoperability Work Group’s UDEF project, TJ Virdi of Boeing, co-chair of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group, and Bob Weisman of Build-the-Vision, chair of The Open Group Architecture Forum’s Information Architecture project. The audience was drawn from many companies, both members and non-members of The Open Group, and made a strong contribution to the debate.

What is interoperability? The panel described several essential characteristics:

  • Systems with different owners and governance models work together;
  • They exchange and understand data automatically;
  • They form an information-sharing environment in which business information is available in the right context, to the right person, and at the right time; and
  • This environment enables processes, as well as information, to be shared.

Interoperability is not just about the IT systems. It is also about the ecosystem of user organizations, and their cultural and legislative context.

Semantics is an important component of interoperability. It is estimated that 65% of data warehouse projects fail because of their inability to cope with a huge number of data elements, differently defined.

There is a constant battle for interoperability. Systems that lock customers in by refusing to interoperate with those of other vendors can deliver strong commercial profit. This strategy is locally optimal but globally disastrous; it gives benefits to both vendors and customers in the short term, but leads in the longer term to small markets and siloed systems.  The front line is shifting constantly. There are occasional resounding victories – as with the introduction of the Internet – but the normal state is trench warfare with small and painful gains and losses.

Blame for lack of interoperability is often put on the vendors, but this is not really fair. Vendors must work within what is commercially possible. Customer organizations can help the growth of interoperability by applying pressure and insisting on support for standards. This is in their interests; integration required by lack of interoperability is currently estimated to account for over 25% of IT spend.

SOA has proved a positive force for interoperability. By embracing SOA, a customer organization can define its data model and service interfaces, and tender for competing solutions that conform to its interfaces and meet its requirements. Services can be shared processing units forming part of the ecosystem environment.

The latest IT phenomenon is Cloud Computing. This is in some ways reinforcing SOA as an interoperability enabler. Shared services can be available on the Cloud, and the ease of provisioning services in a Cloud environment speeds up the competitive tendering process.

But there is one significant area in which Cloud computing gives cause for concern: lack of interoperability between virtualization products. Virtualization is a core enabling technology for Cloud Computing, and virtualization products form the basis for most private Cloud solutions. These products are generally vendor-specific and without interoperable interfaces, so that it is difficult for a customer organization to combine different virtualization products in a private Cloud, and easy for it to become locked in to a single vendor.

There is a need for an overall interoperability framework within which standards can be positioned, to help customers express their interoperability requirements effectively. This framework should address cultural and legal aspects, and architectural maturity, as well as purely technical aspects. Semantics will be a crucial element.

Such a framework could assist the development of interoperable ecosystems, involving multiple organizations. But it will also help the development of architectures for interoperability within individual organizations – and this is perhaps of more immediate concern.

The Open Group can play an important role in the development of this framework, and in establishing it with customers and vendors.

SOA/TOGAF Practical Guide

SOA is an interoperability enabler, but establishing SOA within an enterprise is not easy to do. There are many stakeholders involved, with particular concerns to be addressed. This presents a significant task for enterprise architects.

TOGAF® has long been established as a pragmatic framework that helps enterprise architects deliver better solutions. The Open Group is developing a practical guide to using TOGAF® for SOA, as a joint project of its SOA Work Group and The Open Group Architecture Forum.

This work is now nearing completion. Ed Harrington of Architecting-the-Enterprise had overcome the considerable difficulty of assembling and adding to the material created by the project to form a solid draft. This was discussed in detail by a small group, with some participants joining by teleconference. As well as Ed, this group included Mats Gejnevall of Capgemini and Steve Bennett of Oracle, and it was led by project co-chairs Dave Hornford of Integritas and Awel Dico of the Bank of Montreal.

The discussion resolved all the issues, enabling the preparation of a draft for review by The Open Group, and we can expect to see this valuable guide published at the conclusion of the review process.

UDEF Deployment Workshop

The importance of semantics for interoperability was an important theme of the interoperability panel discussion. The Open Group is working on a specific standard that is potentially a key enabler for semantic interoperability: the Universal Data Element Framework (UDEF).

It had been decided at the previous conference, in Amsterdam, that the next stage of UDEF development should be a deployment workshop. This was discussed by a small group, under the leadership of UDEF project chair Ron Schuldt, again with some participation by teleconference.

The group included Arnold van Overeem of Capgemini, Jayson Durham of the US Navy, and Brand Niemann of the Semantic Community. Jayson is a key player in the Enterprise Lexicon Services (ELS) initiative, which aims to provide critical information interoperability capabilities through common lexicon and vocabulary services. Brand is a major enthusiast for semantic interoperability with connections to many US semantic initiatives, and currently to the Air Force OneSource project in particular, which is evolving a data analysis tool used internally by the USAF Global Cyberspace Integration Center (GCIC) Vocabulary Services Team, and made available to general data management community.  The participation of Jayson and Brand provided an important connection between the UDEF and other semantic projects.

As a result of the discussions, Ron will draft an interoperability scenario that can be the basis of a practical workshop session at the next conference, which is in London.

Complex Cloud Environments

Cloud Computing is the latest hot technology, and its adoption is having some interesting interoperability implications, as came out clearly in the Interoperability panel session. In many cases, an enterprise will use, not a single Cloud, but multiple services in multiple Clouds. These services must interoperate to deliver value to the enterprise. The Complex Cloud Environments conference stream included two very interesting presentations on this.

The first, by Mark Skilton and Vladimir Baranek of Capgemini, explained how new notations for Cloud can help explain and create better understanding and adoption of new Cloud-enabled services and the impact of social and business networks. As Cloud environments become increasingly complex, the need to explain them clearly grows. Consumers and vendors of Cloud services must be able to communicate. Stakeholders in consumer organizations must be able to discuss their concerns about the Cloud environment. The work presented by Mark and Vladimir grew from discussions in a CloudCamp that was held at a previous Conference by The Open Group. We hope that it can now be developed by The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group to become a powerful and sophisticated language to address this communication need.

The second presentation, from Soobaek Jang of IBM, addressed the issue of managing and coordinating across a large number of instances in a Cloud Computing environment. He explained an architecture for “Multi-Node Management Services” that acts as a framework for auto-scaling in a SaaS lifecycle, putting structure around self-service activity, and providing a simple and powerful web service orientation that allows providers to manage and orchestrate deployments in logical groups.

SOA Conference Stream

The principal presentation in this stream picked up on one of the key points from the Interoperability panel session in a very interesting way. It showed how a formal ontology can be a practical basis for common operation of SOA repositories. Semantic interoperability is at the cutting edge of interoperability, and is more often the subject of talk than of action. The presentation included a demonstration, and it was great to see the ideas put to real use.

The presentation was given jointly by Heather Kreger, SOA Work Group Co-chair, and Vince Brunssen, Co-chair of SOA Repository Artifact Model and Protocol (S-RAMP) at OASIS. Both presenters are from IBM. S-Ramp is an emerging standard from OASIS that enables interoperability between tools and repositories for SOA. It uses the formal SOA Ontology that was developed by The Open Group, with extensions to enable a common service model as well as an interoperability protocol.

This presentation illustrated how S-RAMP and the SOA Ontology work in concert with The Open Group SOA Governance Framework to enable governance across vendors. It contained a demonstration that included defining new service models with the S-RAMP extensions in one SOA repository and communicating with another repository to augment its service model.

To conclude the session, I gave a brief presentation on SOA in the Cloud – the Next Challenge for Enterprise Architects. This discussed how the SOA architectural style is widely accepted as the style for enterprise architecture, and how Cloud Computing is a technical possibility that can be used in enterprise architecture. Architectures using Cloud computing should be service-oriented, but this poses some key questions for the architect. Architecture governance must change in the context of Cloud-based ecosystems. It may take some effort to keep to the principles of the SOA style – but it will be important to do this. And the organization of the infrastructure – which may migrate from the enterprise to the Cloud – will present an interesting challenge.

Enabling Semantic Interoperability Through Next Generation UDEF

The day was rounded off by an evening meeting, held jointly with the local chapter of the IEEE, on semantic interoperability. The meeting featured a presentation by Ron Schuldt, UDEF Project Chair, on the history, current state, and future goals of the UDEF.

The importance of semantics as a component of interoperability was clear in the morning’s panel discussion. In this evening session, Ron explained how the UDEF can enable semantic interoperability, and described the plans of the UDEF Project Team to expand the framework to meet the evolving needs of enterprises today and in the future.

This meeting was arranged through the good offices of Jayson Durham, and it was great that local IEEE members could join conference participants for an excellent session.

Cloud is a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, San Diego, which is currently underway.

Dr Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing. Before joining The Open Group, he was a consultant, and a designer and development manager of communications software. With a PhD in mathematical logic, he welcomes the current upsurge of interest in semantic technology, and the opportunity to apply logical theory to practical use. He has presented at Open Group and other conferences on a range of topics, and contributes articles to on-line journals. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE, and the AOGEA, and is a certified TOGAF practitioner.

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