Jeff SutherlandOOPSLA'96   

Workshop Report: Business Object Design and Implementation

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Workshop Co-Chairs:

Jeff Sutherland - VMARK Software 
Cory Casanave - Data Access Corporation 
Glenn Hollowell -- Sematech 
Joaquin Miller - SHL Systemhouse
Dilip Patel - South Bank University


The OOPSLA Workshop on Business Object Design and Implementation was jointly sponsored by the Accredited Standards Committee X3H7 Object Information Management Technical Committee and the Object Management Group (OMG) Business Object Management Special Interest Group (BOMSIG) for the purpose of soliciting technical position papers relevant to the design and implementation of Business Object systems.

X3H7 Object Information Management

In 1994, the X3H7 Object Information Management Technical Committee projected that over the next decade, more than 80% of new object-oriented software systems would be built in three object-oriented languages (Smalltalk, C++, and OO COBOL) and communicate through a Object Request Broker to four primary external environments (SQL databases, Object Databases, Microsoft OLE/COM, and CORBA objects).

Interoperability of large grained objects existing in these environments was identified as a core activity in the standards process.

In addition, X3H7 projected that implementation of systems will move up to a higher level of abstraction. A business model will be built for enterprise applications using standard object-oriented analysis and design (OOAD) techniques, legacy CASE models will be incorporated, and major amounts of code will be autogenerated, rather than hand coded. OOAD models, documentation, and code will be stored and versioned in an object repository and injected into the run time environment. Furthermore, the business object model will be a component-based model that supports component distribution over arbitrary processors on a network.

Provision for interoperability between standard business components was identified as a major priority. One can conclude, based on the experience at SEMATECH and NIST, building large software frameworks for chip fabrication plants requires a Business Object Component Architecture to enable interoperability. This insight is generalizable across a wide variety of application domains.

The need for a component-based enterprise architecture led X3H7 to propose development of an ISO RM-ODP Enterprise Viewpoint Companion Standard. This resulted in the initiation of three activities:

OMG Business Object Management Special Interest Group (BOMSIG)

The Object Management Group's central mission is to establish an architecture and set of specifications, based on commercially available object technology, to enable distributed integrated applications. Primary goals are the reusability, portability and interoperability of object-based software components in distributed heterogeneous environments. To this end, the OMG adopts interface and protocol specifications that define an Object Management Architecture (OMA) that supports applications based on distributed interoperating objects.

The current focus of OMG BOMSIG is development of a Request For Proposal (RFP) to address the OMA component called Common Facilities. The RFP solicits proposals for the following:

The objectives of the RFP are: Providing the required higher level of abstraction has two separate, but closely related, aspects: The Component Interoperability Facility should provide the abstraction which hides computational complexities, and enables business objects to interoperate efficiently and reliably in multi-user, concurrent, distributed, heterogeneous environments.

The Common Business Objects component of this RFP should provide a common starting point for enterprise application developers and domain industry standards groups by providing a set of business concept abstractions from which more specific business objects can be specialized. In some cases these abstract objects may be quite generic since the concept varies considerably from one industry to the next. In other cases, the abstractions may be quite specific because the concept occurs much the same in all industries. The objective is to promote consistency across industries and enterprises and minimize the duplication of effort to define and eventually implement (using the Component Interoperability Facility) enterprise and industry frameworks.

The people who will benefit from the greater levels of simplicity include

The work of OMG BOMSIG is directly related to the current work of the X3H7 Object Information Management Committee. Industry consortia standards developed by OMG can be formalized through the accredited standards process through the current ISO work item that is the designated task of X3H7.

Goal of the Workshop

The goal of the workshop is to facilitate development of design patterns and frameworks for building business object systems. A common business object infrastructure is essential to an object-oriented software platform that enables systematic reuse of components across an enterprise.

Of particular concern is the infrastructure required for supporting domain specific business object models. At a recent Object Management Group meeting BOMSIG outlined four layers of object technology for standardization:

Papers addressing issues related to component interoperability and common business objects were solicited from academia, government, and industry for the workshop.

Presented Papers

Business Application Components - Tom Digre, Texas Instruments

The software industry has been struggling with how to produce software IC chips for years with little success. Meanwhile, the custom chip industry has learned how to shrink wrap software, embed it in hardware, and market custom chip sets. This is the model of the future for software distribution.

Business Object Architectures and Standards - Cory Casanave, Data Access Corporation

As the Chair of OMG BOMSIG, Cory presented the latest thinking of the committee on the business object infrastructure that is needed to support large domain specific frameworks in finance, manufacturing, heath care, amd insurance. His paper summarizes the current BOMSIG view of a Business Application Architecture.

Implementing Business Objects: CORBA interfaces for legacy systems - Thomas Grotehen and Rene Schwarb, Swiss Bank Corporation/SYSTOR

In 1991, the OMG defined an architectural framework (OMA-Object Management Architecture) as a milestone in realizing the vision of distributed object-oriented computing. This paper describes an experiment designed to examine whether an OMA CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) implementation can be successfully employed in the existing information technology environment of a bank. It provides an overview of both the benefits and the problems involved and an outlook on future technology developments in this area.

An Architecture Framework: From Business Strategies to Implementation - William Hertha, Jim E. Bennett, Frank J. Post, Ian M. Page, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Business systems architects and their clients increasingly suffer from information overload. To help businesses to partition and relate the kinds of architecture information they must build and share, we propose a framework consisting of three related models, each incorporating four tiers of subject matter connected by use cases.

An Architectural Framework for Semantic Inter-Operability in Distributed Object Systems - Rainer Kossmann, Bell Northern Research, Ltd.

This research paper reports results of research on semantic inter-operability in realtime, distributed object-oriented systems. It proposes an architectural framework for distributed heterogeneous object system organization. The major goals of the framework are to provide a basis of inter-operability for different kinds of object models and application domains.

Position Paper - William E. McCarthy, Michigan State University

Position Paper - Bruce Miner, Koba Software, Inc. Position Paper - Stéphane Poirier and Colin Ashford, Bell Northern Research. Ltd. Position Paper - Guus Ramackers, Oracle Corporation SCRUM Development Process - Ken Schwaber, Advanced Development Methods

The stated, accepted philosophy for systems development is that systems development process is a well understood approach that can be planned, estimated, and successfully completed. This is an incorrect basis. SCRUM states that the systems development process is an unpredictable, complicated process that can only be roughly described as an overall progression. SCRUM defines the systems development process as a loose set of activities that combines known, workable tools and techniques with the best that a development team can devise to build systems. Since these activities are loose, controls to manage the process and inherent risk are used.

Experiences with a Manufacturing Framework - Selden L. Stewart and James A. St. Pierre, NIST

This paper describes the first year of a joint project between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and SEMATECH. After studying the SEMATECH CIM Framework, we present a roadmap for adoption and use of manufacturing frameworks with four components: developing a specification, reaching consensus, standardization, and testing and certification. Results of our study include numerous recommendations about online specifications, supplier involvement, standards organizations, usage scenarios, reference implementations, and a testing and certification plan. 

Conclusions of the Workshop

The wide variety of papers presented and the high level of expertise at the workshop led to a consensus on several important issues:

Pointers of Interest

  Jeff Sutherland  SCRUM
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