PhD Theses at KOM

Governance for Service-Oriented Architectures - Component Analysis and Decision Support for Process Conformance Assessment

Michael Niemann

Monday November 14, 2011

English abstract:

Times characterised by globalisation, volatile markets, and increasing numbers of legal regulations, present companies and their IT systems with new challenges. Increasing flexibility requirements and the requisite continuous adaptation of internal, IT-based processes often exceed the IT departments’ capabilities for timely reaction to environment changes and fast implementation of sustainable solutions. However, experts consider this very ability - adapting the business strategy aswell as the IT system - an important competitive advantage.
In the last decade, the paradigm of Service-oriented Computing has emerged that addresses these challenges. Based on software services, Service-oriented Architectures (SOA) represent a new concept of efficiently mapping business processes and business goals to IT, adhering to the companies’ process flexibility and adaptability requirements outlined above. Regarding IT system control and adherence to legal regulations, so far, in large companies, IT Governance proved itself as indispensable support. In recent years, SOA Governance has been recognised as an holistic discipline that is to realise this support for a large SOA system, while preserving its high degree of flexibility. So-called IT Governance Frameworks serve as a basis, formulating best practices and reference processes. For the assessment of adherence to these, experts certify IT systems, for example concerning process conformance. In the case of the latter, in order to ensure process conformance already in the early state of process design, efficient reference process retrieval techniques are beneficial. Currently, experts’ notions of SOA Governance vary considerably so that SOA Governance Frameworks as well as analytical support for process conformance assessment are scarcely represented in both, research and industry.
In this context, this thesis contributes in the two topics of SOA Governance and Process Model Similarity. First, we elaborate, amongst others, a new operational model for SOA Governance. Second, supplementary, we develop a novel analysis technique for process conformance assessment.
Regarding the first contribution, we perform a structural analysis of approaches and notions of SOA Governance, authored in consulting industry, in academia, and by software vendors. As key result, we identify 10 central components of SOA Governance. Based on the insights of the analysis, we develop a comprehensive definition, a consolidated service life cycle, as well as a generic operational model for SOA Governance.
Regarding the second contribution of this thesis, complementing the operational model, we develop a technique for comparison of reference process models with models of realised processes, as well as for their retrieval (related cluster pairs). The comparison approach performs a structural decomposition based on similar process regions. The evaluation of this approach attests a high level of accuracy, which indicates an effective assistance to manual business process conformance assessment. Additionally, based on related cluster pairs,we introduce a novel metric for process model similarity. Evaluation results show clear performance improvements compared to related approaches. Beyond the scope of SOA Governance, this approach represents a general contribution to Process Model Similarity research.

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PhD Theses