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Re: [ontolog-forum] New paper from SICoP CDSI WG ''InteroperabilityAcros

To: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 12:02:00 -0000
Message-id: <808637A57BC3454FA660801A3995FA8F04EBFAA6@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Jim,    (01)

>       Please see attached paper from the SICoP Cross Domain 
> Semantic Interoperability WG.  
> The Abstract reads:
>       "Enterprises need data interoperability across all of 
> their own systems, and with external systems.  The Federal 
> CIO Council Strategic Plan, FY 2007  2009, calls for, 
> interoperability across Federal, state, tribal, and local 
> governments, as well as partners in the commercial and 
> academic sectors. [1]
>       Current technologies such as XML, metadata, RDF, OWL, 
> and stand-alone ontologies can achieve data interoperability, 
> but only within domains or Communities of Interest (COI), or 
> between limited numbers of these.  These technologies cannot 
> today achieve data interoperability across the many domains 
> found in most large enterprises.   To achieve this goal, 
> leading organizations will need to invest in emerging 
> technologies and mature them to where they are ready for 
> enterprise-wide implementation."  
>       The CDSI WG web site is at 
> http://www.visualknowledge.com/wiki/CDSI.    (02)

This is the space which is the focus for the work I do
and which ISO 15926 is designed to support, so let me
make a few observations on the interesting paper you
have circulated and a brief overview of where we are
with ISO 15926 in being able to support this kind of
requirement.    (03)

Developing Larger Domains' does not Scale    (04)

"For example, a Finance and a Logistics community could 
coordinate to develop a large data model, but this would 
not solve interoperability with systems from other 
domains, such as Acquisition or Human Resources."    (05)

I dispute this. I have recently finished creating a data 
model for (most of) Shell's Downstream business (taking 
oil from a tanker, turning it into product and delivering 
it to gas stations). This included 5 or 6 areas of similar 
size to the ones mentioned above. We found much 
commonality across the different domains which only needed 
to be done once, and thus as additional domains are added 
the incremental cost of addition falls. Indeed we know that 
if we added Shell's Upstream business (getting oil out of 
the ground and putting it into oil tankers) there would be
very large scale reuse.    (06)

Just to give a benchmark the data model has some 1700 entity
types and cost US$1m to develop over 12 months. It uses
ISO 15926 as its foundation (of course).    (07)

This is not to say that developing such a data model is
easy. Unless you take a strong ontological approach, then
the kinds of problems you point to are significant.    (08)

Another point worth making is that this is a Conceptual
Data Model, not a design for a single database that all
systems would use. This might be theoretically possible,
but is not currently practical and is probably also not
desirable.    (09)

In the candidate technical solutions section 2) it is
stated that "An upper data model (for all domains) has never 
been developed, nor is it feasible to do so"    (010)

This is not true. ISO 15926-2 is just such a data model.
It should be noted though that unlike most data models,
entity types represent what the paper descibes as "discreet 
concepts" rather than "labels for complex concepts", i.e.
the entity types have a low attribute count, with information 
being carried in relationships to other entity types. I would 
agree that complex entity types are a barrier to reuse and 
interoperability.    (011)

So how does the work of ISO TC184/SC4 support the objecgtives
in the paper?    (012)

The first piece is in ISO 18876 (parts 1 & 2) which provides
an architecture for interoperability, based on mapping between
data models (which I agree is a critical component). This
shows that one data model can be an integrating data model for
a number of application models, and that one integration model
can also act as an application data model and be integrated
with others. This allows for a simple hub and spoke, hierarchical
arrnagement, or even peer to peer integration.    (013)

ISO 15926-2 is designed to be a cross domain integration data model/
ontology that can be extended into different domains through
reference data - ISO 15926-4. A reference data library for process 
engineering is in the late stages of development, and there are 
already moves to extend its use into the defense area. This provides 
a hub ontology into which other data models/ontologies can be mapped.    (014)

The next key aspect is how to integrate applications. This is the
business of ISO 15926-7, also in the late stages of development. 
This provides a methodology for defining "templates" where a 
"short hand template" would correspond say to database record
structure, but mapped by a "longhand template" into the ISO 15926-2
data model and ISO 15926-4 Reference Data Library to make their
meaning unambiguous, and to give a mapping via the hub into other
templates that use different combinations of data.    (015)

There is no magic here. You have to build the templates manually.    (016)

The last piece of the jigsaw is the Facade. This is a system to
which systems behind the facade publish their data to according
to the templates to make them available outside the facade to
authorised users using standard web based technology. Thus providing 
not only the potential for intra-enterprise integration, but also 
inter-enterprise integration.    (017)

So we have a (nearly) standardised way that information from different
systems can be made available with a single definition across those
systems to those authorised to access it.    (018)

So what is left? I think the use case provided in the paper is
interesting.    (019)

"An officer on the battlefield is directed to halt one course of 
action and pursue another objective, which had not been anticipated 
and for which there is no plan.   He has 15 minutes to issue new 
orders.  He spends 5 minutes plugging new parameters into his computer 
system, which activates scores of agents to access thousands of data 
sources (many of them unanticipated sources found through searches).  
After 5 minutes, his system presents 3 alternative plans, giving him 
5 minutes to make the decision.  To achieve this, automated agents 
searched, analyzed, and compared data on items such as weather, 
supplies, costs, training readiness, local customs, and maps, and 
then integrated the findings into the 3 alternatives."    (020)

So I think we have what it takes to make the information available
to be searched, but we do not have the application that the officer
would use to initiate that search and decide what to search for.    (021)

In Shell we do of course have our own planning systems to 
semi-automate the decision making in our business. To me these are
specialist applications that operate over a large sea of data. I'm
not quite sure how you would expect to solve this part of the
problem more generally.    (022)

Regards    (023)

Matthew West
Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
Shell International Petroleum Company Limited
Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom    (024)

Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
Email: matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx
http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/    (025)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Schoening,
> James R C-E LCMC CIO/G6
> Sent: 16 March 2007 17:56
> To: 'ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'
> Subject: [ontolog-forum] New paper from SICoP CDSI WG
> ''InteroperabilityAcross the Enterp rise -- Why Current 
> Technology can't
> Achieve it"
>  Ontolog,
> James R. Schoening            
> U.S Army C-E LCMC CIO/G6 Office       
> Voice: DSN 992-5812 or (732) 532-5812 
> Fax: DSN 992-7551 or (732) 532-7551   
> Email: James.Schoening@xxxxxxxxxxx 
>     (026)

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