Wed 26 Apr 2006
IDS Scheer’s Service Oriented Architecture Roadshow took place at the Theater Museum. Starring the show were Claus Günther (IDS Scheer Finland), Jean-David Muller (Gartner), Eero Koskinen (SAP Finland), Kari Hiekkanen (WM-Data) and Uwe Roediger (IDS Scheer).
Claus Günther started the show by introducing IDS Scheer and ARIS Platform. He was happy to announce that IDS Finland has been founded just recently this year, although his company CWG Change Ware Group has represented IDS already since 1995.
Jean-David Muller’s presentation was titled “BPM, SOA & EA: only acronyms or clear value for your business”. In Gartner jargon, he alleged that Real Time Enterprise is an emerging business discipline: “The RTE competes by using up-to-date information to progressively remove delays in managing and executing its critical business processes.”
According to Gartner, Business Process Fusion is the transformation of business activities that is achieved by integrating previously autonomous business processes to create a new scope of management capabilities. Business Process Fusion will become a key driver for IT investment in a majority of Global 2000 by 2007 (probability 0.7). It forces new architectural models based on a service infrastructure.
Muller asserted that SOA is not only about technology. By 2015, SOA will transform software from an inhibitor to an enabler of business change, but one needs to look at something else than technology to achieve this goal. Decisions to be made include:
- Which services to do?
- Which services to do first?
- Is this really a new service?
- Who is going to pay for development and maintenance of this service?
- Who owns this service?
Architecture, according to Gartner, is the fine art of defining for the business how you are going to support what they wanted to do, a consensus as to the way how technology will be used, a means of communication between business and technology.
In conclusion, Muller recommended to think and design BPM strategically, but buy it tactically. Reusable best-practice process templates should be employed where possible. He also reminded that SOA does not equal to Web services. BPM and SOA programs should go hand in hand and be fully integrated to the overall EA program.
Eero Koskinen from SAP Finland gave his presentation modestly on “SAP ESA — the most comprehensive SOA-solution on the market”. ESA stands for Enterprise Services Architecture and SAP defines it as ESA = SOA + ES, Enterprise Services being “Business Services which are basically modular pieces of software that perform a discrete, well-defined business function”.
The presentation was mainly about ESA Adoption Program, a comprehensive and scalable consulting program of SAP and its partners. I was not listening that much. All I learned was that ARIS will be embedded in SAP NetWeaver.
Kari Hiekkanen was speaking about “Challenges of the rapidly changing IT environment”. His basic tenets were that the IT industry has matured and its role has changed from support to enabler. Business cycles are shrinking and cost efficiency and productivity have become pronouncedly important. Change is the only constant factor as the number of systems grows and emerging technologies open new opportunities and challenges.
Hiekkanen listed a number of trends going on in the changing environment:
- Process-oriented business modeling and development
- Internal and external process integration, networking
- Service-oriented architecture and development
- A new paradigm for IT design and development
- Major changes in processes, roles, workloads and terminology
- More a design and architecture philosophy than technical issues
- Standardization of software and system architectures
- Software infrastructure is converging (application servers, database, integration, portal)
- The role of major vendors increasing
- Security and privacy issues
- Complicated, networked environment, new risk scenarios
- Legal issues; privacy, data protection, banking, medical/health, IP, …
- Mobility; ubiquitous access and consumerization
- Infrastructure commoditization; IT as utility
- Changing business models; outsourcing, offshoring
- Measuring the value of IT
- IT’s role and roadmap; ROI, TCO, BVIT
- IT governance and IT compliance
- Increased control and scrutiny; business objectives and constraints
- Standardized operation models
- IT and regulation
- The industrialization of software development
- From development-centric to end-to-end application life-cycle process
Of course, Hiekkanen also put forth his own definition of SOA:
An approach to loosely coupled, protocol independent, standards-based distributed computing where software resources avilable on the network are considered as Services.
Uwe Roediger from IDS Scheer gave his presentation on “BPM — vital for SOA success”. He argued that the current approach of BPM vendors is only technical modelling and that no process modelling accepted by the business departments can be found. There is a gap between Business BPM and Technical BPM, different culture, different tools. BPM is supposed to bridge this gap between IT and business.
Roediger presented ARIS P2A (Processes to Applications) and SOA Solution in more detail, but I did not keep up with his pace with my notes. However, ARIS approach appeared to be very well thought-out.
The roadshow concluded with a panel discussion that wrapped up the day: SOA is here to stay.
Tue 25 Apr 2006
I attended a webinar by Borland about Together technologies related to MDA. Most notably, Together implements MOF 2.0 QVT draft specification atop Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF). However, it does not support declarative relations, but only imperative, or operational, transformations are supported.
Some model-to-model and model-to-text transformations were demonstrated, e.g. PIM to PSM, UML to XSD and UML to J2EE (through a series of QVTs and M2Ts). Together provides a comprehensive set of ‘cheat sheets’, or step-by-step instructions of how to perform these transformations.
Upcoming enhancements in the summer release of Together 2006 R2 include:
- QVT language and usage impovements
- Debugger for Model2Text transformations
- Bundled transformations
- Full J2EE example
- Ant tasks for automating transformations
- XSL-based Model2Text, including XSL Editor and Debugger
- EMF diff/merge
Tue 25 Apr 2006
Breakfast at BEA. The topic of the day was AquaLogic User Interaction (former Plumtree) and AquaLogic BPM (Fuego acquisition); both new product suites were presented on a high level. The portal solution got slightly more airtime as the consultants came from Plumtree. Its roadmap was also ready to be presented, whereas Fuego’s role in the overall AquaLogic picture was less clear.
AquaLogic Interaction comes with the following components:
- AquaLogic Interaction Collaboration
- Project workspaces: integrated, Web-based workspaces unite users around projects
- Powerful notification and subscription services
- Work in your environment: Desktop, Office
- AquaLogic Interaction Publisher
- Publish HTML
- Distribute creation, maintain control
- Work in your environment: Desktop, Office
- AquaLogic Interaction Studio
- Portlet development without coding
- Data-driven applications
- Wizard-based development
- Deploy pages to communities
- AquaLogic Interaction Analytics
- Metrics gathering
- User profile correlation
- Behavior analysis
- AquaLogic Interaction Process
- Workflow and BPM services
- HiPer Workspaces
- Pre-packaged composite applications for industries
AquaLogic BPM has the following components:
- Studio: process development and system integration
- Designer: process modeling, simulation and documentation
- Enterprise server: process server and monitoring repository
- HiPer Workspaces
- Manager: BI, BAM, drill down to instance data
The roadmap of portal aims at enhanced interoperability between WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic Interaction in the first phase (through WSRP and JSR-168). Later on, portal services will be refactored to reusable components and shared services that will eventually be unified to a common portal framework. The two products, however, will be kept separate.
The roadmap for WebLogic Integration and AquaLogic BPM (Fuego) was not published yet, but it was suggested that WebLogic Integration is more applicable to system-centric process integration and composition of reusable services, whereas AquaLogic BPM leverages these reusable services and addresses human-centric processes better.
My question about BEA’s stance to XPDL vs. BPEL went unanswered. Again.
Sun 16 Apr 2006
Posted by jjk under CognitionNo Comments
Advancing the ideas in my previous post, I would view a coordinated process architecture as a viable basis for cognitive models…
Digital computers provide a pseudo-positivistic means to study human information processing. As any Turing-equivalent computer can be implemented as a virtual machine built upon von Neumann architecture, human cognition can be modeled, assuming it is Turing-equivalent in the first place.
According to Pylyshyn (1984), two programs can be thought of as strongly equivalent or as different realizations of the same algorithm or the same cognitive process, if they can be represented by the same program in some theoretically specified virtual machine. The formal structure of the virtual machine — or what Pylyshyn calls its functional architecture — represents
“the theoretical definition of, for example, the right level of specificity (or level of aggregation) at which to view mental processes, the sort of functional resources the brain makes available — what operations are primitive, how memory is organized and accessed, what sequences are allowed, what limitations exist on the passing of arguments and on the capacities of various buffers, and so on” (92).
Mental algorithms are viewed as being executed by this functional architecture.
The idea of functional architecture as the implementation-independent interpretation and control mechanism of symbols is the methodological key to cognitive science. A model can be considered as valid, if a computer simulation is strongly equivalent with the human functional architecture, i.e. it uses the same primitive procedures in its problem solving than people.
Traditional computational models such as Turing machines, register machines and the lambda calculus are concerned of reading or writing on a storage medium (tape or registers), or invoking a parametric procedure, but they fall short in describing interactional behavior. Computer algorithms derived from lambda calculus are based on a single thread of execution or a set of parallel but non-interacting tasks. Such algorithms are procedural, sequential, goal-oriented, hierarchical and deterministic. Arguably, cognitive models based on these algorithms inherit the same limitations.
Milner (1999) introduces the pi-calculus for “analysing properties of concurrent communicating processes, which may grow and shrink and move about”. In pi-calculus, the focus is on systems that interact and interrupt one another. There are many deeply nested, independent but coordinated, interacting threads of execution.
In conventional computer languages, types such as strings and integers represent values that can further be aggregated to objects or records. Conventional computer languages focus upon computation with these values and records. By contrast, types in languages derived from pi-calculus represent behavioral patterns. Primitives would include high-level things such as “signing a new customer” as well as low-level tasks such as addition of two integers.
In the early days of computer science, the study has revolved around sequential programs running on a single machine and performing calculational tasks. While computing is becoming increasingly parallel and distributed, the role of an individual computer is more like that of a computing node rather than that of a central computing unit. The legacy of von Neumann architecture is fading in the face of algorithms and standards that operate on a network of computers rather than a single CPU.
In cognitive modeling, the idea of computation as communication has not yet been embraced. Pi-calculus would provide a plausible avenue towards cognitive models of strong equivalence. In the advent of networked computing, it also becomes possible, in practice, to construct virtual machines of unprecedented scale with a functional architecture closer to human cognition than before.
Sun 16 Apr 2006
Posted by jjk under CognitionNo Comments
In my previous post, I was summarizing my presentation on Agile Enterprise Architecture. It is interesting to compare this reference architecture to classical models of cognitive architecture, as the tiers in the enterprise architecture bear marked resemblance to the levels in the cognitive architecture.
In his seminal book, The Modularity of Mind (1983), Jerry Fodor distinguishes three levels of cognitive architecture:
- The transducer level transforms physical signals of the environment into a format that can be used at the higher levels. Transducers are non-inferential, encapsulated ‘dumb’ functions that perform ’straight through’ mapping from one form of physical events to another in some consistent way.
- The input systems level performs basic recognition and description functions. These special-purpose modular systems redescribe perceptual input in ‘language of thought’. The modules are hardwired, genetically specified, domain-specific, fast, autonomous, mandatory, automatic, stimulus-driven, informationally encapsulated and insensitive to central cognitive goals. Modules can only access information at lower levels information processing, not in the ‘central system’ at the higher level.
- The higher cognitive functions level performs complex operations on the output of the input systems. Higher cognitive functions are inferential and non-encapsulated. All information required for performing the tasks is contained within the input systems.
The transducer level coarsely corresponds to the point solutions that interface to the outside world and contain the ’sources of truth’. The input systems level can be equated with the service layer that canonizes the information and operational model of the enterprise. And the higher cognitive functions level is analogous to the process layer governing the coordination and control logic of the system.
Correspondingly, Marr (1982) suggested three levels at which any machine carrying out an information-processing task must be understood. At the top level is the computational theory that determines the goal of the computation: why is it appropriate, and what is the logic of the strategy by which it can be carried out? In the center is the choice of representation for the input and output and the algorithm for the transformation. At the bottom level is the detailed computer architecture that addresses how the representation and algorithm are realized physically.
Wed 12 Apr 2006
Today, I gave a presentation at HUT’s course Information and Communication Technology Enabled Commerce (ICTEC) on “Evolution of Agile Enterprise Architecture”.
In my presentation, I went throught the brief history of enterprise integration and examined three trends pertaining to enterprise architectures as they are evolving from fragile to agile:
- From control to coordination.
- From imperative to declarative technologies.
- Decoupling of entities.
The presentation can be downloaded as pdf or as a podcast (some cool metallic space sounds come as an added bonus due to the low bit rate:).
The following summarizes my presentation.
Sun 2 Apr 2006
Posted by jjk under Culture
, ArtNo Comments
Today, I challenged my preconceived views about what is beautiful. Pixelache 2006 featured music entirely different from anything I have ever heard: ChDh and Vladislav Delay.
ChDh, the two French brothers Cyrille and Damien Henry, have developed a body of work from theoretical principles which makes possible the creation of a live, real-time, audio-visual performance based on about thirty instruments, made of generative, stochastic or physical modelling algorithms each of them controlling a sound and a visual element.
The performance was highly hypnotic: the movements of symmetric shapes were in perfect sync with the acidulous auditory atmosphere, which was more fascinating than it was unsettling. Yet I would not recommend the show to anyone epileptic!
Vladislav Delay was more ambient and once he got his bass fixed, he managed to create a floating, fanciful atmosphere in Kiasma theater. The music had a very relaxing, euphoric effect on me.