Workflow Management Systems in Distributed Environments

Workflow Management Systems in Distributed Environments

Spyridon V. Gogouvitis, Kleopatra G. Konstanteli, Dimosthenis Kyriazis, Gregory Katsaros, Tommaso Cucinotta, Michael Boniface
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-827-9.ch007
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With the advent of Service Oriented Architectures, more applications are built in a distributed manner based on loose coupled services. In this context, Workflow Management Systems play an important role as they are the means to both define the processes that realize the application goals as well as implement the orchestration of the different services. The purpose of the chapter is to give an overview of various solutions regarding workflow semantics and languages, as well as their enactment within the scope of distributed systems. To this end, major focus is given to solutions that are aimed at Grid environments. Scheduling algorithms and advance reservation techniques are also discussed as these are among the hottest research topics in Workflow Management Systems.
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The term ‘workflow’ is used with various meanings depending on the domain in which the term is used. The Workflow Management Coalition’s definition is based on document oriented business processes: “Workflow is the automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information or tasks are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules” (Coalition, et al., 1999).

In the Grid community, the term workflow is typically used in the context of electronic services that may, or may not, be distributed. For example “Workflow is a pattern of business process interaction, not necessarily corresponding to a fixed set of business processes. All such interactions may be between services residing within a single data centre or across a range of different platforms and implementations anywhere” (Treadwell, 2005).

In the eScience community, workflow is often used to refer to the use of workflow techniques to support the scientific process, i.e. for performing the activities that take place as part of scientific endeavour in a structured, repeatable and verifiable way. For example, in bioinformatics the scientific process can involve the use of ‘in silico experiments’, where local and remote resources to test a hypothesis, derive a summary or search for patterns (R. Stevens et al., 2003).

In the Business Process Management and Web Services domain, the term ‘workflow’ tends to mean programming and automation of processes that involve software exposed as services. This is applied in a variety of areas, e.g. enterprise application integration, supply chains, and business process automation.

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