MOWAHS -- Mobile Work Across Heterogeneous Systems

MOWAHS is a new research project under NFRs IKT-2010 program, with budget of 5.0 mill.\ NOK over four years. Upstart early 2001. Two PhD students, partly one postdoc.

Responsibles: prof. Reidar Conradi and prof. Mads Nygård, both NTNU.

See also revised MOWAHS abstract of 2.Oct.2000 (.doc) (as .pdf)
and Reidar Conradi and Mads Nygård: "MOWAHS presentation", 29 Jan. 2001, 32 slides (.ppt).

Summary of MOWAHS: MObile Work Across Heterogeneous Systems

Specific IKT-2010 program relevance: heterogeneity and mobility, quality of service / system quality (partly), and component-based systems (somewhat).

The Internet now has 350 million users. It is expected to be 3 billion mobile phones world-wide in 2004, and 1/10 of these will have Internet access and be attached to powerful computers (source: IDC). More and more companies are therefore working as virtual organizations, where people are distributed over several locations and time zones. That is, distributed, mobile and partly asynchronous technology enables sharing of documents and work plans. However, the infrastructure and tools for carrying out projects in virtual organizations are immature. We must deal with a heterogeneity of tools, equipments (laptops, PDAs, mobile phones) and work models. In addition, mobility of devices and partial lack of connectivity require regular synchronization of such devices against stationary servers and PCs.

A research challenge is therefore to provide an efficient and user-friendly environment for helping people in virtual organizations to perform and coordinate their work at their current location, time and device configurations.

The support technologies for the above is in an enormous flux of development. Thus, a research project with 5-6 researchers must pursue a limited set of achievable subtasks. By building on local research in the EPOS and CAGIS projects over the last 10 years and on recent middleware technologies (XML and mobile agents), we mean that we have a head start in establishing a functional, innovative, cheap and flexible technology platform, that quickly can lead to validatable and useful results.

Goals: The MOWAHS goals are threefold:
G1) Helping to understand and to continuously assess and improve workprocesses in virtual organizations.
G2) Providing a flexible, common work environment to execute and share real workprocesses and their artifacts, applicable on a variety of electronic devices (from big servers to small PDAs).
G3) Disseminating the results to colleagues, students, companies, and the community at large.

Approach: to iteratively:
-- Define a flexible work environment for virtual organizations using heterogeneous devices, with support for processes and their artifacts and transactions.
-- Implement a testbed for process support for virtual organizations, using XML-based and mobile agents.
-- Use real scenarios to evaluate the environment, e.g., for software development and remote education. 25% of the work will be spent on formulating requirements and success criteria, and to perform empirical studies. In all this, own MSc students will be actively used for implementation and evaluation.

Results – mainly as PhD theses, papers, reports, software, and Web material – and covering the following:
R1) A formalism to define and execute federated and heterogeneous processes, establish and control
workspaces and cooperating transactions, based on XML.
R2) A simple set of tools to support the above, based on agent technology.
R3) A set of scenarios with defined work models, using the above formalisms.
R4) A body of experiences from empirical studies of such technologies, as articles, reports etc.
R5) General presentation material and courses/seminars.

Partners: the software engineering and database research groups at IDI, NTNU. These have together 8 teachers, 12 PhD students and 25 MSc students. The groups will exploit and enhance their competence in process support, workspace management, agent technology and cooperative transactions -- e.g., from the national EPOS and CAGIS projects, and from the ESPRIT projects PROMOTER and PROMOTER2.

Budget and management: MOWAHS is planned for 4 years, with 2 PhD students and 1 postdoc per year financed by NFR -- totally 5000 KNOK (977 KNOK in 2001). Another PhD student is expected to be financed by NTNU. In addition comes involvement of teachers, guest researchers and the surrounding university environment. Total capitalized NTNU effort is estimated to 3251 KNOK (500 KNOK in year 2001). Two external reviews are envisaged, respectively after 2 and 3.5 years.

Keywords: Virtual organizations, process models, mobile agents, heterogeneous systems, federated and distributed systems, distributed workspaces, cooperative transactions, XML.

revised MOWAHS project application of 2.Oct.2000 (.html) , (.pdf).

Updated Nov. 30, 2000 by Reidar Conradi.