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The project is extending the semantic grid paradigm to support dynamic virtual organizations (VO) that collaborate on the design, production and maintenance of products that are described in complex, structured, product model databases. Such VOs are typical for industries with long and dynamically changing supply chains like automotive, shipbuilding and aerospace. Perhaps the most complex VOs are in architecture, engineering and construction. Semantic interoperability of software and information systems belonging to members of the VO is essential for efficient collaboration within the VO.
The hypothesis of this project is that the collaboration platform - the semantic grid itself - must be aware of the business concepts (e.g. car, plane, house) that the VO is addressing. The grid itself needs to commit to the product's and process's ontology thereby evolving into an ontology committed semantic grid . The goal of this project is to create an architecture and a prototype for such an infrastructure, based on existing grid middleware and test it in the context of industries mentioned above.
The expected results of the project are the generic business-object-aware extensions to grid middleware, implemented in a way that would allow grids to commit to an arbitrary ontology. These extensions are propagated to toolkits that allow hardware and software to be integrated into the grid. The demonstration will show the next generation of key engineering collaboration software using the InteliGrid middleware – an ontology service, a product model database server, a project Web collaboration service and characteristic computer aided design software.
The project's impact is wide; it creates knowledge, infrastructure and toolkits that will allow for a broad transition of the industry towards semantic, model based, ontology committed collaboration using the grid, rather than the Web, as the infrastructure, thus enabling the grid to become a mainstream collaboration paradigm.
The vision of the project is to provide the industries with challenging integration and interoperability needs a flexible, secure, robust, ambient accessible, interoperable, pay-per-demand access to information, communication and processing infrastructure. The idea to support virtual organizations has been central in grid protocols development computing , however, most practical results to date were related to a fast distributed computation and storage. The hypothesis of this project is that grid technology has the potential to provide such infrastructure. Scientific research and technical development in this project will advance the state of the art in the field of semantic grids and in the field of virtual organization interoperability.
The long term practical goal of the project is to provide complex industries such as construction, automotive and aerospace stable, co-allocated, reliable, unified, adaptive, remote, ambient accessible, interoperable, pay-per-demand access to: (1) information, (2) communication and (3) processing infrastructure and thereby provide the integration and interoperability infrastructure.
This goal cannot be achieved by the pro j ect alone. But it can prepare the enablers - the true project targets - for the paradigm shift from internet and web services to the grid. The enablers are researchers, standardization bodies and the key software developers. They need a reference grid, which will be in a position to provide the strategic steering of their future developments. Current state of the art addressing these needs is based on the (semantic) Web services approach. This approach is visable in businesses with stable and long-term virtual organization relations where the investment into finding a service with UDDI , learning its interface with WSDL and finally creating the links with SOAP pays with the long time using of the services. In contexts where the involvement of a partner in a VO is temporal, short term, but needs to be set up quickly, a grid based approach seems more appropriate. The figure below compares the two approaches.
The key scientific question addressed by this project is how grid technology can be used to address the interoperability of software and services working with complex and semantically rich information. In addition, the software and services need distributed processing power to crunch this information. This needs to be done in an environment characterised by some standard data structures that are undergoing a dynamic evolution.
The key technological goal is to make the grid infrastructure available to the mostly small to medium enterprise (SME) companies that are providing the engineering software. The core competency of these companies are topics like structural mechanics or 3D solid modelling and not latest trends in middleware technology. The results of the technical work will demonstrate how typical server side applications (or components of applications) can be made grid-computing compatible and how the mostly client side Computer Aided Design (CAD) applications can interface with the grid. This will attract new SMEs to enhance their applications with grid-computing capabilities, since the project will provide the necessary libraries, toolkits and guidelines.