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Orchestrating Web Services for Networked Enterprise Collaboration

Authors: Srinivasan, Ananth - University of Auckland Business School
Sundaram, David - University of Auckland Business School
Keywords: Web Services Orchestration; Inter-organizational systems; Enterprise collaboration
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2003
Series/Report no.: NET Institute Working Paper;03-14
Abstract: Internet technologies are widely recognized for their promise as enablers of collaborative computing both within and among organizations. The presence of heterogeneous systems based on different technological platforms in organizations makes the implementation of network collaboration very complex. The approach taken for the most part to deal with this issue has been based on Enterprise Application Integration. The major drawback of this approach is the dependence on proprietary solutions that are not based on open standards. When the need for inter-organizational collaboration arises, such solutions hinder the smooth exchange among the participating organizations due to their complexity and lack of interoperability. 'Web Services' is a new class of internet based, open standards technology that offers the promise of resolving these problems. Web services technologies are offered as the new generation of electronic commerce enablers. What is currently missing is a compelling implementation framework for the deployment of this technology in organizations. A lack of clear understanding about how to deploy Web Services to enable inter-organizational collaboration will impede the uptake of this promising new technology. In this project, our aim is to construct and test a valid implementation framework for Web Services. Such a framework will enable effective inter-organizational network based computing which will have a positive effect on organizational productivity. The emphasis of our work will be to support decision oriented, collaborative business processes. We propose a conceptual framework for building systems that utilize Web Services technologies to enable networked organizations to automate collaborative processes. We take the view that it is useful to conceptualize organizational service chains in terms of workflows and build a framework for orchestrating such services. We articulate a conceptual framework along these lines and present specific ways by which the implementation of the framework using Web Services technologies could benefit inter organizational collaboration. Our primary objective of building prototypes that demonstrate the validity of such a framework was successful. Two prototypical systems that demonstrate the validity of such a framework were built. They now offer a platform for ongoing testing and refinement. We believe that such prototypes will serve as useful tools for organizations that are investigating the use of this emerging technology to facilitate networked collaboration to improve productivity.
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