Fundamentals of process integration

Aldred, Lachlan James (2011) Fundamentals of process integration. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Technologies and languages for integrated processes are a relatively recent innovation. Over that period many divergent waves of innovation have transformed process integration. Like sockets and distributed objects, early workflow systems ordered programming interfaces that connected the process modelling layer to any middleware. BPM systems emerged later, connecting the modelling world to middleware through components. While BPM systems increased ease of use (modelling convenience), long-standing and complex interactions involving many process instances remained di±cult to model. Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs), followed, connecting process models to heterogeneous forms of middleware. ESBs, however, generally forced modellers to choose a particular underlying middleware and to stick to it, despite their ability to connect with many forms of middleware. Furthermore ESBs encourage process integrations to be modelled on their own, logically separate from the process model. This can lead to the inability to reason about long standing conversations at the process layer. Technologies and languages for process integration generally lack formality. This has led to arbitrariness in the underlying language building blocks. Conceptual holes exist in a range of technologies and languages for process integration and this can lead to customer dissatisfaction and failure to bring integration projects to reach their potential. Standards for process integration share similar fundamental flaws to languages and technologies. Standards are also in direct competition with other standards causing a lack of clarity. Thus the area of greatest risk in a BPM project remains process integration, despite major advancements in the technology base. This research examines some fundamental aspects of communication middleware and how these fundamental building blocks of integration can be brought to the process modelling layer in a technology agnostic manner. This way process modelling can be conceptually complete without becoming stuck in a particular middleware technology. Coloured Petri nets are used to define a formal semantics for the fundamental aspects of communication middleware. They provide the means to define and model the dynamic aspects of various integration middleware. Process integration patterns are used as a tool to codify common problems to be solved. Object Role Modelling is a formal modelling technique that was used to define the syntax of a proposed process integration language. This thesis provides several contributions to the field of process integration. It proposes a framework defining the key notions of integration middleware. This framework provides a conceptual foundation upon which a process integration language could be built. The thesis defines an architecture that allows various forms of middleware to be aggregated and reasoned about at the process layer. This thesis provides a comprehensive set of process integration patterns. These constitute a benchmark for the kinds of problems a process integration language must support. The thesis proposes a process integration modelling language and a partial implementation that is able to enact the language. A process integration pilot project in a German hospital is brie°y described at the end of the thesis. The pilot is based on ideas in this thesis.

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ID Code: 48016
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: ter Hofstede, Arthur & Dumas, Marlon
Keywords: business process, integration, middleware, coupling, modelling, architecture, correlation, conversation modelling, interaction, patterns, messaging, languages, orchestrations
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 11 Jan 2012 04:35
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2012 04:35

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