A Service-Based Framework to Model Mobile Enterprise Architectures

A Service-Based Framework to Model Mobile Enterprise Architectures

José Carlos Martins Delgado (Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-042-6.ch053
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Abstract

This chapter presents and discusses a resource-based and service-oriented metamodel and EA framework, in which mobility is introduced naturally from scratch, constituting the basis for some guidelines on which EA resources should be mobilized. Several simple scenarios are presented in the light of this metamodel and framework.
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Introduction

When we think of “mobility”, the image that usually springs to mind is that of a travelling person, equipped with a mobile device integrating a significant set of functionalities, such as cell phone, PDA, data communications and browsing, video camera, GPS and, more recently, NFC (Near field communication) and strong security mechanisms to support applications requiring strong authentication and encryption, such as mobile payments (Ondrus & Pigneur, 2009).

The usual approach to mobility and ubiquity in the enterprise context is thus bottom-up and technology driven (in particular, computer-based). Given the fact that we have all these functionalities in a single device, what can we do with them, how can we integrate them into existing systems, and which functional and non-functional limitations are we imposed upon by them? Although these are fundamental issues, this chapter tackles a complementary, top-down approach. How can mobility be integrated in an enterprise architecture? Which components can and/or should be mobilized and under which requirements? We contend that it is the union of these approaches that produces the best results, and any method of designing mobile enterprise architectures should contemplate both.

We start by noting that mobility is a much more encompassing concept than a person with a mobile device and doesn’t even have to take place in the physical world. For example:

  • A home-delivery pizza company has a highly mobile architecture (a good part of its resources are on the streets);

  • A daily commuter has mobility problems to solve, which can vary significantly if the employer moves its headquarters;

  • Logistics companies live out of mobility, trying to optimize the movements of its resources;

  • Companies such as IKEA impose upon costumers a careful planned route at their shops, thereby restraining the mobility model;

  • Trucks, ships and planes are highly complex mobile systems and can act as carriers of smaller but also mobile resources, such as people;

  • Human roles can move from one person to another, which is also a form of mobility that raises its own problems;

  • Programs can move from one computer to another, as scripts, agents or deployed applications in a datacenter or cloud computing platform;

  • Even the Earth itself is mobile. It has a translation and rotation mobility relatively to the sun (which is not fixed, either), responsible for seasonal products and services and for incompatible meeting schedules in global companies.

Mobility is a form of the pervasive change problem that plagues all EAs (enterprise architectures) and is present whenever there is a change in location (in the 3-D physical space or some other space, physical or virtual) and does not have necessarily to be associated with wireless technology, data, business or even people. We feel the need to have a broader view on mobility and a framework that allow us to deal with it in a more general way.

The main objectives of this chapter are:

  • To claim the usefulness of the service paradigm as the basis to support the modeling of mobile enterprise architectures;

  • To systematize the notion of resource, identifying common characteristics between various types of resources;

  • To establish a model and a framework to model mobile enterprise architectures;

  • To discuss mobility of physical and virtual resources in the light of costs and benefits, establishing some guidelines to help in deciding which are the best resources to be mobile.

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Background

Enterprises are the backbone of economy. Agility and competitiveness (Alexopoulou, Kanellis, Nikolaidou & Martakos, 2009) are fundamental issues for enterprise survival. Enterprise architectures have long been recognized as a basic tool in enterprise organization and structure (Chen, Doumeingts & Vernadat, 2008). Mobility is a much more recent area, but already with a strong impact on business models (Basole, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Channel: A resource mainly used as an intermediate between two or more resources, thereby avoiding the need for them to be directly interconnected.

Service Transaction: complete set of operations between two resources, comprising sending a stimulus and the reaction to it by the receiving resource.

Ubiquity: The capacity of a resource to interact with another in any location of some space.

Mobility: The capacity of a resource changing the coordinates of all its contacts in a given space.

Elasticity: the capacity of a resource of changing the coordinates of only some of its contacts.

Enterprise Architecture Framework: A set of guidelines on how to structure and organize an enterprise architecture.

Service: The set of all possible service transactions at a given contact.

Resource: any entity composed of a surface (a set of contacts) and an interior capable of interacting with its exterior through these contacts.

Enterprise Architecture: A model of the structure and behavior of an enterprise and of the services it most directly deals with ( Figure 6 ).

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