The way business processes are organised heavily influences the flexibility and the expenses of enterprises. The capability to address changing market needs in a timely manner and to provide appropriate pricing is indispensable in a world of internationalisation and growing competition. Optimising processes that cross enterprise boundaries potentially is a key success factor in achieving this goal but it requires the information systems of the participating enterprises to be consistently integrated. This gives rise to some challenging tasks. The personnel involved in building up business collaborations comes from different enterprises with different business vocabulary and background which requires extensive communication support. The lack of central technical infrastructure, typically prohibited by business politics, often calls for a distributed and computer-aided collaboration structure, so that the resulting complexity must be handled somehow. Nevertheless robustness is an important factor in building business collaborations as these may exchange goods of considerable value. This technical report proposes the use of a two step modelling approach that separates business logic, modelled in the so-called centralised perspective (CP), from its distributed implementation, modelled in the so-called distributed perspective (DP). The separation of these perspectives enables business people to concentrate on business issues and to solve communication problems in the CP whereas technical staff can concentrate on distribution issues. The use of stringent modelling rules is advised in order to provide the basis for formal analysis techniques as one means to achieve robustness. Considering the choreography of RosettaNet Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) as the subject of my analysis, UML activity diagrams for modelling the CP and WSBPEL for modelling the DP are described as enabling techniques for implementing the proposed two step modelling approach. Further, model checking is applied to validate the CP and DP models in order to detect errors in early design phases. As the adequacy of model checking tools highly depends on the detailed modelling techniques as well as the properties to be checked, a major part of our discussion covers relevant properties and requirements for a model checker.
Information about online presence allows participants of instant messaging (IM) systems to determine whether their prospective communication partners will be able to answer their requests in a timely manner, or not. That is why presence information, combined with the ability to send instant messages, makes IM more personal and closer than other forms of communication such as e-mail. On the other hand, revelation of presence constitutes a potential of misuse by untrustworthy entities. A possible risk is the generation of online logs disclosing user habits. This makes presence information a resource worth protecting. We argue, however, that current IM systems do not take reasonable precautions to protect presence information. We implemented an IM system designed to be robust against attacks to disclose a user’s presence. In contrast to existing systems, it stores presence information in a registry in a way that is only detectable and applicable for intended users and not comprehensible even for the registry itself. We use a distributed hash table (DHT) as registry and apply an anonymous communication network to protect the physical addresses of both senders and receivers of messages.
Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) promise a new advance in distributed computing. In MAS autonomous software agents flexibly cooperate, coordinate, and compete to provide the desired function(s) of such a system. If some components of a MAS fail or do not provide the desired functionality, the system is expected to autonomously deal with these situations. It is desirable to reduce occurrences of such situations by selecting trustworthy cooperation partners before cooperating with them. This becomes even more desirable and important in an open MAS where arbitrary heterogeneous software agents, deployed by different parties, participate in the MAS, as it becomes more likely that these agents fail or try to exploit the MAS for their own purposes without reciprocation. In order to monitor agent behavior and enable selection of trustworthy cooperation partners, trust or reputation management services can be applied. As there is no central control in an open MAS and it is completely distributed these services themselves have to be distributed. This paper proposes a fully distributed reputation management service for open MAS based on peer-to-peer technology (especially distributed hash tables). A Java-based implementation of that service, which is intended as a plug-in for multi-agent platforms, is also described.