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Discovering Potential Synergies between Research Projects and Standardisation, the COIN Case

Conference Paper

Discovering Potential Synergies between Research Projects and Standardisation, the COIN Case

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The paper aims to present a methodology developed to support the COIN IP project in identifying potential synergies between the project outcomes and the world of standards and standardisation. The major references for our purposes are the COPRAS project outcomes and its guidelines to standardisation. Nevertheless, in order to apply such approach to the COIN concrete case, it has been necessary to setup a methodology able to reduce the complexity of the domains under investigation and to extract a richer information. The paper presents also some aspects and outcomes of its application on COIN.
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Almost final version of the paper presented at the Coopis 2011 conference, Industry Case
Track, Crete, October 21st 2011 1
Discovering potential synergies between research
projects and standardisation, the COIN case
Arianna Brutti1, Piero De Sabbata1, Nicola Gessa1, Cristiano Novelli2, Enrico Del
Grosso3
1 ENEA UTT-PMI, Via Martiri di Monte Sole. 4, 40129, Bologna, Italy
{arianna.brutti, piero.desabbata, nicola.gessa}@enea.it
2 FTI, Forum per la Tecnologia dell‘Informazione, Piazzale Morandi. 2,
20121 Milano, Italy
cristiano.novelli@forumti.it
3 TXT eSolution, via Frigia 27, 20126, Milano, Italy
enrico.delgrosso@txt.it
Abstract. The paper aims to present a methodology developed to support the
COIN IP project in identifying potential synergies between the project
outcomes and the world of standards and standardisation.
The major references for our purposes are the COPRAS project outcomes and
its guidelines to standardisation. Nevertheless, in order to apply such approach
to the COIN concrete case, it has been necessary to setup a methodology able to
reduce the complexity of the domains under investigation and to extract a richer
information. The paper presents also some aspects and outcomes of its
application on COIN.
Keywords: standard, web services, enterprise interoperability, enterprise
collaboration
1 Introduction
This paper presents an in progress work about the investigation of the potential
synergies between an IT research project and the world of standardization that has
been committed by COIN project (www.coin-ip.eu).
COIN is an integrated research project in the European Commission Seventh
Framework Programme (EU FP7) that is focused on technologies and business
models related to Enterprise Collaboration and Interoperability.
The aim of COIN is to prepare the methodologies, the technologies and the
business models that allow the “COIN vision by 2020” to come true [1].
On the purpose to disseminate the project outcomes a community has been created,
the COIN Angels, aiming to play a more active role of “ambassadors and evangelists”
of the COIN vision and results. In this framework the activity reported in this paper
has been launched with the aim to collect, analyse and frame all the potential
implications between standardisation issues and COIN Project outcomes; we present
Almost final version of the paper presented at the Coopis 2011 conference, Industry Case
Track, Crete, October 21st 2011 2
our methodology in paragraph 3 and its application in the context of COIN project in
paragraph 4.
2 The starting point
The COIN commitment has been to collect, analyse and frame all the potential
implications between standardisation issues and COIN project outcomes.
The request was tackled from two different perspectives:
- how the project outcomes could contribute to the standardisation
- how the project outcomes (and actors) can get advantage from standards.
The main reference about facilitating the relationships between an IT research
project and standardisation are the outcomes of the COPRAS (COoperation Platform
for Research And Standards, http://www.w3.org/2004/copras/) project.
Started in 2004, it was aiming to improve the interfacing, cooperation and
exchange between IST (Information Society Technologies) research projects and ICT
standardization. Partners of the project were the three European standardization
bodies (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI), the W3C Consortium (W3C) and The Open
Group (TOG).
The objective for COPRAS was tackled mainly by supporting projects in
establishing relationships with the main standards organizations.
As one of its most relevant deliverables, COPRAS in 2007 published a set of
Generic Guidelines [2] for IT projects.
The approach of the guidelines could be summarized on three corner stones:
- standardization as an opportunity for IT projects to disseminate their
outcomes
- identification and planning of standardization established since the
beginning of the project activities
- direct involvement of the project with standardization bodies.
COPRAS has been our reference but it has required some additional effort in order
to be applicable in our context, due to some aspects of the COIN case:
- the project, being a large integrated project, has produced a great amount
and variety of outcomes, in a wide range of domains, unease to manage by
a single expert;
- the time frame of the project do not fit the time scale of a standardization
initiative and, consequently, the project itself is not interested in being an
actor of standardization in first hand;
- the project has also a ‘visionary’ course being connected with the ideas of
the future evolutions of the Internet;
- it is important to prioritize project standardization potentialities with a
reference to the European future standardization policies;
- the project is interested to think in a bidirectional way the relationship with
the standardization world.
For these reasons the approach to be implemented has to fulfill the following
additional requirements:
- subdivide the domain of interest, to facilitate the reconciliation between
project outcomes and standardization initiatives in the same sub-domain
Almost final version of the paper presented at the Coopis 2011 conference, Industry Case
Track, Crete, October 21st 2011 3
- deal with skills of different people highly specialized
- consider the ‘political’ perspective (and priorities) of standardization world
- consider the relationships between the project and standardization as
bidirectional
- implement different types of relationships between project and
standardization.
The result of the processing of these requirement has been the methodology that is
presented in the following paragraph: in short it moves from a mono dimensional
investigation (how my results could be standardized) to a three dimensional
evaluation (potential of my outcomes for future standardization, potential of present
standardization for my future developments, potential interest for European
standardization policies and priorities).
3 The methodology
The proposed methodology is a process that can be applied in order to identify
potential synergies between research projects outcomes and the world of standards
and standardisation.
Talking about identifying synergies we intend checking if and how the results
achieved within one world could contribute in improving the other one.
The methodology goes through the following steps:
1. definition of a domain grid in order to subdivide the domain under analysis
in respect to the topics/problems on which we want to compare and to
reconcile the world of standardization (existing or coming specifications)
and the project outcomes;
2. collection of existing standards or running standardisation initiatives in
order to select the relevant ones with reference to each of the sub-domains
defined by the grid;
3. analysis and selection of project outcomes in order to identify their
reference in the grid and evaluate their potential relationships with actual or
future standards; the evaluation should be made taking into account two
factors: innovation (which represents the degree of innovation of the
outcomes in respect of the status of art) and generality (which represents the
measurement of the applicability of the project outcomes to a wider domain);
4. matching between promising project outcomes and standardisation
initiatives and policies in order to understand if they could become or
contribute to a new standard, provide inputs to existing standards or simply
represent a request for new standards;
5. sharing of the conclusion with project and standardisation stakeholders
in order to agree on potential development and possible actions.
Almost final version of the paper presented at the Coopis 2011 conference, Industry Case
Track, Crete, October 21st 2011 4
4 Construction of the domain grid
In this section we focus on the description of the domain grid for standard analysis
and categorisation.
In order to define a classification of the domain of the standards that could be
related to eBusiness, Interoperability and more specifically to Interoperability Service
Utilities (ISU [3]) in the COIN project perspective we examined different
approaches[4]: based on a classification of the standards for eBusiness [5], on levels
of interoperability [6], [7], [8] (for an overview see also [11]), on building elements of
an Interoperability Framework [9].
The latter approach resulted more suitable as a starting point to partition our
domain and to highlight both the standardization bricks of the interoperability
construction and the components of the COIN system. To emphasize issues related to
organization level and common specification customization (like the case of UBL and
related specializations[10]) we adopted an hybrid approach that produced the
following grid.
The first column identifies the three different levels of interoperability: technical,
semantic and organizational (as defined in [6]).
The second column identifies the categories of artifacts that are enablers for each
interoperability level:
- Technical interoperability: the enablers are related to technologies for
communication, messaging mechanisms and syntax for artifact building.
- Semantic interoperability: it is worth to observe that the first enabler
group is often the support for the others (for example Schematron is used
for defining UBL profiles), and, the same could for the second one
supporting ‘profile based specifications (in the table expressed by thin
arrows).
The groups resulting from this categorization are relatively homogeneous
for quality of the semantic content, skills necessary for their developments,
standardization organizations or consortia in charge for their development,
dependency on the applicative domain.
- Organisational interoperability: analogously there are two groups of
enablers, “Domain independent collaboration description languages” and
“Domain related specifications” that can use the first ones to express the
specifications.
The third column reports samples of standardized specifications belonging to each
of these groups.
The fourth column reports outcomes of the project having a possible relationship
with the standardisation belonging to the same subdomain, like, for example:
- the result could contribute to further development of an existing
specification;
- the result could become the basis for a new specification;
- the result could take advantage from an existing specification
- the result has been hampered by the lack of specifications.
The actual grid for COIN is in figure 1.
The application of the first three steps of the methodology to a first group of COIN
outcomes allowed to identify 17 of them with a potential relationship with
Almost final version of the paper presented at the Coopis 2011 conference, Industry Case
Track, Crete, October 21st 2011 5
standardisation and to attribute them a score value (range 0-3) in terms of Innovation
and Generality.
The selection of the items beyond the threshold of ‘2’ for both the indicators leaded
to choose 5 of them with a promising relationship with standardisation (in figure 1, on
the right column there are two samples).
Fig. 1 – The domain grid
Almost final version of the paper presented at the Coopis 2011 conference, Industry Case
Track, Crete, October 21st 2011 6
5 Conclusion
The methodology we propose in this paper to investigate the potential synergies
between large IT research projects and standardisation is a work in progress. It is
formalised in five steps and presently the first three ones have been proved on the
COIN IP project; the remaing ones are expected to be experimented in a near future.
The current status of the work demonstrates that it is possible to systematically
identify the potential synergies between the standardisation world and the project
despite a) the complexity of the project activities and outcomes, b) the absence of
experts having a strong background on both worlds in the same person. The
methodology has allowed different experts to combine their respective expertises and
visions to tackle the problem in a structured way.
The next developments, after the completion of the test of the whole methodology,
will be a) to better define the roles played by the different expertises –as individuals,
and organisations- in each step, b) to test its generality towards other cases.
References
1. COIN Integrated Project, www.coin-ip.eu
2. Standardization guidelines for IST research projects interfacing with ICT standards
organizations, COPRAS project, January 2007, www.w3.org/2004/copras/docu/D27.pdf
3. Li, M., Cabral, R., Doumeingts, G., Popplewell, K., Enterprise Interoperability Research
Roadmap, final version 4.0, July 2006, Information Society Technologies,
ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/pub/ist/docs/directorate_d/ebusiness/ei-roadmap-final_en.pdf
4. Folmer, E., Verhoosel, J., State of art on semantic Information Systems Standardisation,
interoperability and quality, TNO, Universiteit Twente, NOiV, CTIT, March 2011, ISBN
978-90-9026030-3
5. Blind, K., A Taxonomy of Service Standards and a Modification for E-Business. In: Jakobs,
K., Information Communication Technology Standardization for E-Business Sectors:
Integrating Supply and Demand Factors, pp. 24-30, Information Science Reference (2009),
ISBN 1605663204
6. EIF 1.0, European Interoperability Framework for pan-European eGovernment Services
IDABC project, Belgium, European Communities (2004), ISBN 92-894-8389-X,
http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/servlets/Docd552.pdf?id=19529
7. EIF 2.0, Annex II - EIF (European Interoperability Framework), In: Communication
Towards interoperability for European public services, on the 16th of December 2010,
European Commission, 2010
8. Kubicek, H., Cimander, R., Three dimensions of organizational interoperability. European
Journal of ePractice, 6 January 2009, http://www.epractice.eu/files/6.1.pdf
9. Hemant, J., Huimin, Z., A Conceptual model for comparative analysis of standardization of
vertical industry languages. MISQ Special Issue Workshop “Standard Making: A Critical
Research Frontier for Information Systems” (2003)
10. Brutti, A., Cerminara, V., Cristiani,S., De Sabbata,P., Gessa, N., Use Profile Management
for B2B Standard Adoption: The Case of eBIZ-TCF. In: Cunningham, P., Cunningham, M.
proceedings of e-Challenges 2009 conference, IIMC International Information Management
Corporation LTD, Dublin, Ireland, IOS PRESS (2009), ISBN 978-1-905824-13-7
11. Panetto, H., Towards a Classification Framework for Interoperability of Enterprise
Applications. In International Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, 2007, 20 (8).
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