T1. Semantic Business Process Management
T2. Model-based Transition from Requirements to High-level Software Design
The proposed tutorial explains and demonstrates how the combination of Business Process Management (BPM) and Semantic Web Services (SWS) can eliminate the deficiencies that current BPM technology exhibits. The tutorial will present the state of the art in both areas (business process management and process execution, the SOA concept in BPM, the SWS approach and frameworks, etc.), motivate the need for explicit use of semantics to overcome the current challenges in BPM, and present a consolidated technical framework that integrates SWS into BPM technology. The tutorial will be held by BPM and SWS experts that actively work on integration of both technologies in the EU-funded SUPER project.
We propose the event covering two sessions: first one on foundations and theoretical aspects, and the second dedicated to demonstration with elements of a hands-on session wherein the attendees actively model Business Processes and Semantic Web Services with respective software tools. Therewith attendees will gain a comprehensive overview of the latest developments in semantically enriched BPM technology, which is one of the central trends in BPM research and development.
The target audience of the proposed tutorial includes researchers as well as practitioners that work in the areas of BPM or SWS and are interested in the latest technological developments. Although no specific pre-knowledge is required to follow the tutorial, basic knowledge in BPM, ontologies, and Web services may allow better following the tutorial – and for gaining more benefiting from it. However, such basic knowledge can be expected from attendees of Semantic Web conferences.
The tutorial will present the state of the art in both areas (business process management and process execution, the SOA concept in BPM, the SWS approach and frameworks, etc.), motivate the need for explicit use of semantics to overcome the current challenges in BPM, and present a consolidated technical framework that integrates SWS into BPM technology.
The purpose of the tutorial is to present a consolidated integration of SWS technology into BPM, providing an overview and a solution for the current trend in BPM research and development. The following briefly outlines the background for this.
In general, Business Process Management (BPM) follows a three-phase life cycle: modeling, execution, and analysis of business processes. A central problem for supporting all phases is the integration of IT components within and across enterprises. The current trend for solving this is the use of the SOA paradigm: IT functionality is virtualized in terms of loosely coupled services with stable interfaces. However, even though the combination of BPM and SOA is a very flexible approach for automated support of business processes, there are still several problems to be overcome.
During the modeling phase, processes are created using notations like BPMN and EPC. Their meta-models are incompatible, which hampers the unified use of these notations within and across organizations. Also, commonly business experts use BPM notations different from IT experts: bridging this gap usually requires manual work and is imprecise. Moreover, many organizations maintain a large pool of legacy and newly created process models that are modeled in different notations. This hampers reusability of processes or parts of process models, resulting in missed opportunities to reduce BPM costs. Even though SOA architectures allow the re-use legacy functions via Web services, existing BPM technologies are not flexible enough: only services or sub-processes with known syntactic interfaces can be composed, while the semantics of tasks and available functions are disregarded.
During the execution phase, process instances follow the specifications defined at design time. However, in existing BPM execution environments the resolution of the service types specified at design time to particular implementations is hard-coded. This does not reflect important aspects on functional, non-functional, and behavioral aspects of the services. Hence, problems in service usage occur, especially in handling changing service implementations. Also, potentially occurring mismatches may hamper successful process execution. Furthermore, process flexibility and automation requires improvements with respect to ad-hoc changes of processes.
Semantic Web Services (SWS) develop techniques for automated discovery, composition, and execution of Web Services based on richer, semantic descriptions on functional, non-functional, and behavioral aspects. The Web Service Modeling Ontology (WSMO) is a comprehensive framework for semantically enabled SOA technology. It defines semantic description models for four top level notions along with respective reasoning support for managing these: ontologies, Web services, goals, and mediators. WSMO appears to be a suitable extension to BPM in order to overcome the deficiencies mentioned above as follows:
The aim of the tutorial is to provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of integration of these technologies. In addition, the attendees will be provided with respective software in order to model business processes with semantic descriptions for automated Web service usage, and will be trained in their usage.
This tutorial addresses the key problem of how to transition from requirements to software design. So, the distinction between domain objects and software objects is emphasized. UML is involved as a language for representing OO models, but the need to be clear about what kind of objects are represented is explained. In addition, the influence of non-functional requirements for selecting an architecture will be explained. The transition from requirements to software design is also investigated in model-driven terms, whether it is a transformation or just a mapping. Even as a mapping, it is useful for consistency checks and an advanced form of traceability.
Proposed technical areas
The application area is clearly Software Development, more precisely Requirements Engineering and Software Design. The most important point is the proposed seamless transition from requirements models to design models.
The assumed attendee background is some familiarity with object-oriented concepts as well as interest in requirements, analysis or software design.
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