In this section, we present an overview of Virtual Organisation and Grid, Enterprise and Business Process Modelling and the paradigms for activity modelling. This will provide a background and motivation for the work before the case studies are presented in the next section.
Virtual Organisation and Grid
A Virtual Organisation (VO) is defined as a set of individuals or institutions that wish to share resources in a controlled and coordinated way (Foster & Kesselman, 2004). The sharing not only involves files and data, but also software, equipment and human skills. In this way closer collaboration is enabled for the achievement of shared common goals. It has been argued that the VO paradigm will undoubtedly come to play a major role in the theory and practice of management (Mowshowitz, 2002, p. 25). In fact, business experts state that currently competition is not between different enterprises but between different enterprise networks. Similarly, collaboration among different scientific groups and governmental organisations is crucial, thus signifying the era of VOs.
Issues in VO-related research include: i) trust and security, ii) the computing infrastructure, and iii) the capturing of the highly dynamic processes involved. Trust and cultural problems within the VO are studied mostly by business and information systems researchers. The Grid is suggested as the most suitable infrastructure for the emerging VOs; in fact, Foster and Kesselman adapt their first, computing-oriented definition of the Grid (Foster & Kesselman, 1998) to the era of VOs, as they consider relevant social and policy issues (Foster & Kesselman, 2004). Lately there is an increasing interest in a more encompassing view of VOs, including engineering management aspects such as knowledge management (Katzy & Löh, 2003). In this, the capturing of highly dynamic VO processes, the so-called “virtual operations”, is considered to be crucial. We regard semantics-based BPM methods as a useful means for capturing these processes while allowing their use in the Semantic Web.