When service identification becomes automated

The problem domain of service identification which is intrinsically included in the larger domain of service-oriented modeling has been put forward by pioneers of service-oriented and cloud computing namely Ali Arsanjani from IBM and Thomas Erl back in 2004.

From then, several researchers have been attempting to develop appropriate solutions for this problem area and according to a systematic review reported by Qing Gu and Patricia Lago (2010), service-oriented computing community researchers and practitioners have been proposed a vast majority of service identification methods which their key missions are determination of the scope of functionality a service exposes to meet business needs, and the boundaries between services to achieve maximum design measures. We proposed our first humble idea at International Conference on Services Computing (SCC) in 2008. Due to the heterogeneity of these methods, practitioners often face the difficulty of choosing a right service identification approach that copes with available resources and fits their needs. These methods rely heavily on the experiences of architects to direct them in the identification of services and architectural elements by descriptive qualitative guidelines. These service-identification methods have proved to be laborious and less productive, given the mere large scale of enterprises and the human limitations in comprehending the mostly non-quantitative and textual service requirements of such large enterprises while deriving proper services out of business models. Based on these challenges and opportunity for improving efficiency, we proposed a novel approach called ASIM (Automated Service Identification Method) for automatically identifying and partly specifying enterprise-level software services from business models using best practices and principles of model-driven software development. Based on these premises, the service identification problem, for which we proposed an automated method, could be formulated as follows: “How good service abstractions (at the right level of granularity) with acceptable technical metrics can be derived automatically from high-level business requirements and process models?”.

We have formulated the service identification as a multi-objective optimization problem and solved it by a novel meta-heuristic optimization algorithm that derives appropriate service abstractions by using appropriate quantitative measures for granularity, coupling, cohesion, reusability, and maintainability. ASIM helps architects to derive right architectural elements of service-oriented solutions that in turn lead to effective service models.

This paper has been co-authored by Saeed Mansour, Kavan Sedighiani, Soheil Jamshidi, and Fereidoon Shams.


Enhancing the OPEN Process Framework with Service-Oriented Method Fragments

Accepted for publication in Software and Systems Modeling (SoSyM) springer journal.

The evolution of enterprise software applications and especially their shift toward service-oriented paradigm demands new ways of architecting systems that we now call service-oriented systems. Several new methodologies or extension of existing ones based on the concept of service and better fitting the current development situations have been proposed and still are under development and experimentation.

The area of method engineering has been researched extensively in the last two decades. Indeed, method engineering has introduced a number of key notions: the product and process aspects of methods, meta-modeling, CAME, method rationale, Situational Method Engineering (SME) etc. In the research community Method Engineering (ME) principles have been promoted as a way to make software development methods agile and adaptable to particular circumstances of a development team and project.

The main audiences of our research reported in this paper are those specific groups of software developers who are Method Engineers or Process Engineers. Generally, method engineers are responsible to construct, tailor, and maintain software processes for use in a wide-range of software projects in a software development organization. In the realm of service-oriented systems, method engineers need a set of domain specific method fragments, as reusable building blocks of methodologies, in order to assemble method fragments together and construct a new project-specific service-oriented methodology. Notwithstanding the multitude of service-oriented development methodologies, the lack of knowledge about service-oriented software development in a well-structured and standard format has long been felt. The proposed method fragments, as methodological knowledge, provide support for method engineers to create knowledge on developing service-oriented systems and share it with other method engineers. Fortunately, OPEN is a good candidate because it provides a standard meta-model for representation of methodological knowledge via autonomous and coherent method fragments.

In addition, from method engineer’s point of view, authors suppose that contributed method fragments represent pivotal activities, rather than traditional software engineering activities and practices. The proposed fragments must be incorporated into the software development process when an inherently complex and dynamic distributed system is being developed and maintained in a service-oriented style. It is generally agreed today that method fragments can capture and represent the knowledge on software processes in a well-structured and reusable format.

The project leaded to this publication started by the postgraduate thesis of Mahdi Fahmideh Gholami in 2008 with the title of “Introducing a Set of Process Patterns for Service-Oriented Software Development”.

Preliminary contributions of authors on the proposed subject matter of this paper presented in conferences are as follows:

  • M. Fahmideh Gholami, M. Sharifi, P. Jamshidi, F. Shams, H. Haghighi, Process Patterns for Service-Oriented Software Development, Fifth IEEE International Conference on Research Challenges in Information Science (RCIS’11), Guadeloupe, France, May 19-21 2011. [PDF]
  • M. Fahmideh Gholami, F. Shams, P. Jamshidi, M. Sharifi, Toward a Methodological Knowledge for Service-Oriented Development Based on OPEN Meta-Model, Software Engineering and Computer Systems, Communications in Computer and Information Science, 2011, Vol 181, Part 5, 631-643. [WWW]
  • M. Fahmideh Gholami, J. Habibi, F. Shams, S. Khoshnevis, Criteria-Based Evaluation Framework for Service-Oriented Methodologies. UKSim 2010: 122-130
  • M. Fahmideh Gholami, P. Jamshidi, F. Shams, A Procedure for Extracting Software Development Process Patterns, Europian Modelling Symposium (EMS’10), 2010[PDF]

We had several communications during this project by Prof. Brian Henderson-Sellers and Donald Firesmith. They helped us a lot with their comments regarding the evaluation of the contribution.

The overall contribution went through 2 major and 1 minor revisions and finally has been accepted in SoSyM. The editor and reviewers provide us comprehensive and constructive comments that made the final manuscript much more elaborated than the first submission.

We hope that our method fragments finally lead to the OPEN repository maintaining by the not-for-profit OPEN Consortium, an international group of over 35 methodologists, academics, CASE tool vendors and developers.