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Towards a Multi-Level architecture of distributed, dynamic and cooperative workflow management

Towards a Multi-Level architecture of distributed, dynamic and cooperative workflow management

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Published by ijcsis
Workflow technology, designed to automate business processes and provide support to their management is now an active area of research. It is within this context that our work covers both the modeling workflow process and its cooperation through a system of distributed workflow management. The emergence of what might be called Cloud Virtual Enterprise , covering all partners in order to achieve an overall business process and complement the expertise of each, has created the need for the management of this exchange and for the coordination and interoperability ensuring greater autonomy and flexibility of users, within the framework of an interorganizational workflow. In this paper we first present a literature review of workflow management and the different existing approaches about cooperation. Then, we suggest a multileveled architecture of a collaborative workflow management system and distributed dynamic of a virtual business on Cloud. Finally, we offer an algorithm for cooperation between the socalled private and public components workflow in the environment of a dynamic virtual enterprise. This algorithm of cooperation is divided into four phases, namely: publication, search, filter and connection.
Workflow technology, designed to automate business processes and provide support to their management is now an active area of research. It is within this context that our work covers both the modeling workflow process and its cooperation through a system of distributed workflow management. The emergence of what might be called Cloud Virtual Enterprise , covering all partners in order to achieve an overall business process and complement the expertise of each, has created the need for the management of this exchange and for the coordination and interoperability ensuring greater autonomy and flexibility of users, within the framework of an interorganizational workflow. In this paper we first present a literature review of workflow management and the different existing approaches about cooperation. Then, we suggest a multileveled architecture of a collaborative workflow management system and distributed dynamic of a virtual business on Cloud. Finally, we offer an algorithm for cooperation between the socalled private and public components workflow in the environment of a dynamic virtual enterprise. This algorithm of cooperation is divided into four phases, namely: publication, search, filter and connection.

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Towards a Multi-Level architecture of distributed,dynamic and cooperative workflow management
Samiha EL MESSARI, Khalid BOURAGBA*, Mohamed OUZZIF and Mounir RIFI
Laboratory RITM, CEDoc ENSEMUniversity Hassan II – Ain Chock Casablanca, Morocco
 Abstract
— Workflow technology, designed to automate businessprocesses and provide support to their management is now anactive area of research. It is within this context that our workcovers both the modeling workflow process and its cooperationthrough a system of distributed workflow management. Theemergence of what might be called Cloud Virtual Enterprise ,covering all partners in order to achieve an overall businessprocess and complement the expertise of each, has created theneed for the management of this exchange and for thecoordination and interoperability ensuring greater autonomyand flexibility of users, within the framework of an inter-organizational workflow. In this paper we first present aliterature review of workflow management and the differentexisting approaches about cooperation. Then, we suggest a multi-leveled architecture of a collaborative workflow managementsystem and distributed dynamic of a virtual business on Cloud.Finally, we offer an algorithm for cooperation between the so-called private and public components workflow in theenvironment of a dynamic virtual enterprise. This algorithm of cooperation is divided into four phases, namely: publication,search, filter and connection.
 Mots-clés : Workflow, WFMS, Multi-level ArchitectureCooperation, Virtual Enterprise, CoopFlow, cloud.
I.
 
I
NTRODUCTION
WFMS (Workflow Management Systems) are systems thatmanage, control and support processes such as workflow. Aworkflow is a set of tasks that must be performed in a well-defined order by various users following specific roles by usingdifferent resources. During the execution of a workflow,different agents inter-communicate. The notion of acollaborative process or workflow is defined by the automatedexecution of a set of tasks required to run a business processsuch as booking an air ticket or planning leave of absences forstaff within a company. During the execution of a collaborativeprocess, documents and data are exchanged between theparticipants who might either simple human users or machines.A WFMS provides control and management of theimplementation of a collaborative process based on thespecification of workflow that defines the sequence of operations required to complete the business process associatedwith the collaborative process. Like any collaborativeapplication, implementation of collaborative processes mustmeet stringent requirements in terms of safety, quality of service and transactional consistency. The majority of WFMSimplements a centralized coordinating infrastructure to addressthese constraints. The performance of collaborativeapplications, however, are limited by the centralizedcoordination system since the most recent applications requiresignificant flexibility in execution. This is why a decentralizedWFMS provides a solution to the issue of flexibility.Globalization, the availability of information systemsthrough web platforms, competition and the expenses accruedby the management and automation of business processes, areamong other factors that encourage companies today to beopen to external partners and weave up business relationshipsthat would create the so-called inter-organizational workflows(WFIO) [1].Many research publications offer a whole range of workflow terminology and concepts, and the relationshipsbetween these workflows. The concepts defined by WFMC [2]and then reshaped by Van der Aalst and Van Hee in [3] are themost widely applied in business process management.In this work, we have focused on the suggested architectureworkflow management which consists of four levels, basicallythe level of modeling workflow process which is an activitythat defines and analyzes business processes. This stepprecedes any decision or formulation. Then we discover thespecification level workflow system that includes a number of temporal, behavioral and organizational aspects to ensure theirmodelization. Then we get to the levels of cooperation andcoordination between business processes taking intoconsideration the constraints that occur in many levelsregarding the limits of heterogeneity to guarantee an objectivecooperation that meets the needs and requirements of eachpartner level. Finally there is the execution and implementationlevel of workflow that ensures communication with users andexternal applications using specific interfaces during therunning time.The present paper is organized as follows: The second partis dedicated to an analysis of research background to show theobvious need for a WFMS system to support the definition,execution, recording and control processes in the environmentof the information system of an organization. The third sectionprovides an update on interoperability problems between theworkflows and the existing approaches to cooperation in avirtual enterprise context. Section IV discusses our proposed
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 11, No. 6, June 201313http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
multi-workflow architecture that is based on four levels of management to ensure effective analysis and verification of correct and complete workflow process. Then in the fifthsection, we explain the proposed environment in a dynamicvirtual enterprise cooperation algorithm. Finally, we close thiswork with conclusions and perspectives.II.
 
P
RELIMINARIES AND
T
ECHNICAL
B
ACKGROUND
 
 A.
 
Workflow technology
Modeling through processes, whose areas of applicationwere relatively small in the beginning, has grown steadily. It isnecessary today as an indispensable tool, for the managementof organizations. The failure of organizational processes insoftware architectures gave, among others, birth to workflow tomeet a variety of requirements including the optimization of business processes, support and control.A workflow [4] consists of the automation of a businessprocess, either wholly or partially, whereby documents,information or tasks are passed from one participant to anotherfor action according to a set of procedural rules [5]. Having theworkflow definition, a large number of business activities in anorganization can be classified in the category of workflow. Forexample, placing a purchasing order, applying for a bank loan,renting a car, etc.
 B.
 
Classification of workflow systems
A major classification scheme of workflow systems hasbeen proposed in literature review [6, 7]. McReady ranked theworkflows into:
 
Ad hoc workflows
used to manage core processes in acompany.
 
Collaborative Workflows
managing processes thatevolves quite frequently.
 
Administrative workflows
corresponding to state-oriented processes with a well-defined procedure.
 
Workflows production
involving highly structuredprocess with almost no changes.
C.
 
WfMC Reference Model
The WfMC (Workflow Management Coalition) hasdeveloped a reference model for workflow technology [2].Figure 2 illustrates this model [8].
Figure 1. WfMC Reference Model.
The Workflow Management Coalition reference model,below, defines five components of workflow, the fiveinterfaces to the workflow enactment services.The main objective of the reference model is to providestandard interfaces and data exchange, defining specificationsfor interoperability between heterogeneous WF engines. Itconsists of a general description of the structure of a WfMSwherein five components of workflow are introduced:
Interface 1
is the process definition;
Interface 2
is the clientapplication;
Interface 3
is the interface to the programsinvoked by the business process;
Interface 4
allows oneworkflow system to interact with another workflow system;
Interface 5
is for the administration and monitoring of thesystem.III.
 
I
NTEROPERABILITY AND COOPERATION BETWEENWORKFLOW
 In order to improve their productivity, companies expresseda great need for openness and cooperation worldwide. Theyneed to ally with other companies with complementary skills tocooperate and carry out projects that are not within reach of asingle company (eg. mergers, extension of companies intointernational structures, intensive outsourcing of services, etc.).Accordingly, companies express their needs in terms of business relations via the Web and tend to automate theirinteraction and cooperation. This business cooperation and theautomation process of manual interaction via the Web are oftenreferred to as Business-to-Business (B2B). B2B applicationsrefer to using computer systems (eg Web servers, network services, databases, etc.) to conduct business interactions (egexchange of business documents, product sales, etc.) betweendifferent partners.This has favored the emergence of new corporatestructures, either on the same or on different Clouds, calledvirtual enterprises. These allow to associate a group of partners,scattered in time and/or space to a specific project. Theycombine their respective resources and expertise, and cooperateto achieve common objectives based on informationtechnology.
 A.
 
 Entreprise virtuelle
We distinguish two types of virtual enterprises; Staticvirtual enterprises and dynamic virtual enterprises [9]. In thiscontext, we carried out a comparative study between the twotypes of businesses that have been summarized in the followingtable (Table 1).The cooperation should ensure flexibility, respect of theexpertise of companies, the preservation of their workflow andthe integration of their existing WFMS. Subsequently, we canoffer a synthesis of the main issues of interoperability of workflow (WF) in two major aspects:1.
 
heterogeneity between partners on different levels (partof dynamic virtual enterprise):
 
Syntactic heterogeneity (WF specificationlanguages).
 
Semantic heterogeneity (concepts of businessprocess modeling).
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 11, No. 6, June 201314http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
 
Contextual heterogeneity (the businessenvironment of every enterprise).
 
Technological heterogeneity (physicalenvironment).2.
 
Openness and trust between partners, withinorganizational environment that is specific to eachaccording to rules, data exchanged, and requirementsin terms of confidentiality (under static virtualenterprise).
TABLE I. C
OMPARISON OF A STATIC AND DYNAMIC VIRTUALENTERPRISES
.
 B.
 
 Approach CoopFlow
There are several approaches to cooperation between WF,for example: The CrossFlow [10] approach, the WISE project[11], the e-Flow [12] approach. But there is no approach tomeet all the needs of cooperation that we have previouslyidentified. We focus in this work on CoopFlow [13] approach,as it is a bottom-up approach that meets all the requirements of cooperative inter-WF.CoopFlow is inspired by the architecture oriented serviceswhich is basically founded on three operations: publication,research and connection. Similarly, the approach consists of three steps: (1) the publication of parts of WF enterprise can beoperated by other companies, (2) WF interconnection and (3)cooperation and supervision in accordance with a WF set of policy cooperation (constraints interactions). The CoopFlowapproach focuses on occasional and short-term cooperationbetween companies where no structural constraint oncooperation is a priori defined and where partners aredynamically identified as necessary for cooperation needs. Itspurpose is to allow WF running in different companiesdispersed in space and/or time, heterogeneous, autonomousinteracting and cooperating together.The cooperation of enterprises can be examinedunder two scenarios. In the first scenario, there is a degree of trust between the involved partners who can cooperate andexchange data directly without the intervention of mediatingentity. In the second scenario, there is not enough trust betweenpartners and in this case, a trusted third party must be put inplace to ensure the exchange of data as well as control andmonitoring of cooperation between partners.To achieve this purpose, we have developed a multi-layeredarchitecture that addresses all aspects of WF. In the cooperativeaspect, we have suggested an approach inspired fromCoopFlow with four main steps of cooperation, namelypublication, discovery, filtering and connection. To satisfy theconstraint of trust, we suggest two levels of cooperation: a firstlevel with private directory in which there is cooperationbetween partners with a certain degree of mutual trust; and asecond level with a public directory to interconnect and tocooperate partners with less sufficient confidence.IV.
 
M
ULTI
-
LEVEL
A
RCHITECTURE FOR WORKFLOWMANAGEMENT
 We offer a multi-layered distributed architecture to specify,verify, and connect to cooperate partners. This managementarchitecture WF consists of four levels (Figure 3), namely theWF level modeling process which is an activity that involvesthe definition and analysis of business processes. This is thestep that precedes any decision or formulation. Severalmodeling tools can be used to describe the behavior of workflows. We quote the following:
 
Petri nets (PN) [14]: They are a major formalism formodeling WF process [15]. One of the strengths of thePN is the strong mathematical foundation and thevisual representation they provide.
 
UML: The state / transition diagrams are another majorformalism for modeling WF process. Weissenfels andal. [16] have invested in the use of state / transitiondiagrams to model WF process (Mentor WfMSproject).
 
Finite state automaton: An automaton is a well knownin the field of formal specification of model systems.This model can be used for modeling WF via labels; itallows modeling the execution of an action.As far as the specification level of our approach isconsidered, we take it for granted that in our WF system anumber of aspects must be specified namely, the functionalaspect, the behavioral aspect, the temporal aspect and theorganizational aspect.The functional aspect is the identification of the processactivities to be modeled. It is important to understand that thisis not only to identify the functions of the various departmentsof an organization but also to distinguish the activities makingthe process. Functional modeling must also establish thehierarchy of activities (express possible decompositions interms of sub-processes). Finally, the functional model mustalso represent the data flow associated with the activities andinterdependencies of data between activities (data flow).The behavioral aspect is an essential feature of WF since itcorresponds to the dynamics of the process. The behavior isexpressed by modeling flow control between activities. This
V
IRTUAL
E
NTERPRISE
 S
TATIC
D
YNAMIC
 
-KNOWN
 
PARTNERS
 
 / 
 PREDETERMINED
:-WF
 
COMMON
 
SHARED-SAFE
 
COUPLING
 
WF
 
 / 
 
PARTNERS
 
(PRESET
 
INTERACTIONS)
 
N
O FLEXIBLE
 N
O EVOLUTIF
 C
HANGE COST
 
-PARTNERS
 
NO
 PREDETERMINED
 / 
 
FREE
 
RELATIONSHIP-WF
 
INTERCONNECTION
 
ON
 
DEMAND-LOW
 
COUPLING
 
WF
 
 / 
 
INTERACTIONS
 
AS
 
NEEDED
 
 
FLEXIBILITY
 
SCALABLE
 
STRUCTUREPARTNERS
 
NOT
 
DEPENDENT
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 11, No. 6, June 201315http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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