In current economic and scientific scenarios, interactions and organization models tend to be more and more oriented to flexibility of relationships, heterogeneity of elements, and collaboration among divisions. A possible approach, which is a technical solution and an organizing paradigm at the same time, is based on the concept of Virtual Organization. This paper, starting from the Virtual Organization paradigm and from workflows, shows an approach to the definition and execution of distributed scientific experiments as set of services executed on distributed collaborating sites at different heterogeneous organizations. The focus is on flexibility, reuse, orchestration, collaboration, and interoperability of services within a cooperation process. The workflow of the experiment can be specified by actors with low information technology but high domain knowledge. The context of the work is e-Science, in particular, bioinformatics, but the presented concepts can be easily generalized and extended to other classes of business interaction.
The concept of virtual organization has been developed in the recent few years also thanks to the grid computing paradigm (Foster & Kesselman, 2004; Foster, Kesselman, Nick, & Tuecke, 2002) as a general conceptual model, abstracted from specific technical solutions. Such virtual organization is a set of individuals and institutions having direct access to services, knowledge, tools, data, software, computers, and possible other resources in an heterogeneous dynamic way, aiming to achieve a common goal through collaboration. The basis of virtual organization is the virtualization of resources, consisting in creating and associating to resources a generic interface to allow services to be used through remote control, possibly by ensuring a given quality of service.
Key Terms in this Chapter
E-Services: Software paradigm enabling peer-to-peer computation in distributed environments based on the concept of “service” as an autonomous piece of code published in the network.
E-marketplace: Internet-based electronic market that allows online business-to-business communications and transactions.
Interoperability: Possibility of performing computation in a distributed heterogeneous environment without altering the technological and specification structure at each involved node.
Virtual Enterprise: A new form of economic undertaking where several actors associate their strengths to provide specific products and services traditionally provided by a single enterprise.
E-Science: The co-operative work of scientists with various competences at different sites over an ICT connection in order to achieve a common scientific goal.
Cooperative Information Systems: Independent, federated information systems that can either autonomously execute locally or cooperate for some tasks towards a common organizational goal.
Web Services: Software paradigm enabling peer-to-peer computation in distributed environments based on the concept of “service” as an autonomous piece of code published in the network.
Workflow: The automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information or tasks are passed from one participant (human or machine) to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules.