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InterOperability, O-TTPF and Other Highlights of The Open Group Conference

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The main themes of the Open Group Conference in San Diego, which was held last week, were CyberSecurity, Enterprise Architecture, Cloud Computing and SOA. Dr. Chris Harding of The Open Group shares some interesting insights on the proceedings in his blog entries around CloudCamp, SOA Unconference and the thread of interoperability which wove through all topics.  The Open Trusted Technology Provider Framework (O-TTPF) whitepaper was released by The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) whose objective is to shape global procurement strategies and best practices to help reduce threats and vulnerabilities in the global supply chain.

The panel session on InterOperability Challenges for 2011 set the tone with a definition of interoperability in terms of its 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.
- 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.

How have advances in technology affected interoperability?

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.

Semantics is an important component of interoperability and is addressed in the Universal Data Element Framework (UDEF) standard which is targeted at business analysts rather than semantic experts. It proposes a simple process in which one can assign an index to any piece of data, based on the core UDEF vocabulary and imported vocabularies. Since this index is standardized it makes it easy to relate new information to information that is already stored which reduces the related costs of an integration effort. The next conference in London will include a deployment workshop based on an interoperability scenario designed by the committee chair, Ron Schuldt.

The SOA Repository Artifact Model and Protocol (S-RAMP)  and SOA Ontology standards in conjunction with The Open Group's SOA Governance Framework address SOA governance repository and tool interoperability . Heather Kreger and Vince Brunssen from IBM demonstrated how new service models defined with the S-RAMP extensions in one SOA repository can communicate with another repository to augment its service model.

 The Open Trusted Technology Provider Framework (O-TTPF)
Andras Szakal from IBM announced the release of O-TTPF on The Open Group Blog. The framework outlines industry best practices that contribute to the secure and trusted development, manufacture, delivery and ongoing operation of commercial software and hardware products. Once the framework is adopted as a standard The Open Group will design an accreditation program based on predefined conformance criteria.

Dr. Harding shares his thoughts on the break out session he attended at CloudCamp:

I joined the groups discussing Cloud software development on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. These sessions had excellent information content which would be valuable to anyone wishing to get started in – or already engaged in – software development on these platforms. They also brought out two points of general interest. The first is that the dividing line between IaaS and PaaS can be very thin. AWS and Azure are in theory on opposite sides of this divide; in practice they provide the developer with broadly similar capabilities. The second point is that in practice your preferred programming language and software environment is likely to be the determining factor in your choice of Cloud development platform.

The SOA Unconference included 5 minute talks by volunteers:

  • 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.
  • Vendor-neutral framework for registry/repository access to encourage object re-use
    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.
  • Are all Cloud architectures SOA architectures?
    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.

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