WISE:An Infrastructure for E-Commerce

Gustavo Alonso, Ulrich Fiedler, Amaia Lazcano, Heiko Schuldt, Christoph Schuler, Nathalie Weile
In Proceedings
Appears in
Tagungsband des Informatik'99-Workshops „Enterprise-wide and Cross-enterprise Workflow Management:Co
Paderborn, Germany
The Internet and the proliferation of inexpensive computing power in the form of clusters of workstations or PCs provide the basic hardware infrastructure for business to business electronic commerce in small and medium enterprises. Unfortunately, the corresponding software infrastructure is still missing. As part of the WISE project (Workflow based Internet SErvices), we have taken concrete steps to address this limitation:within WISE we have developed and deployed the software infrastructure necessary to support business to business electronic commerce in the form of virtual enterprises. The starting point was the idea to combine the tools and services of different companies as building blocks of a higher level system in which a process acts as the blueprint for control and data flow within the virtual enterprise. From here, the goal has been to build the basic support for an Internet trading community where enterprises can join their services to provide added value processes. Following these ideas, WISE provides a working system capable of defining, enacting, and monitoring virtual enterprise business processes, as well as supporting related coordination activities. Such infrastructure includes an Internet workflow engine acting as the underlying distributed operating system controlling the execution of business processes, a process modeling tool for defining and monitoring the processes, a catalogue tool for virtual enterprise services in which to find the building blocks for the processes, and a collaborative multimedia environment. The projects also incorporates in its design considerations about security, quality of service, execution guarantees, exception handling, high availability, and scalability, as well as diverse other aspects related to WWW based interaction, catalogue based information, catalogue search, and communication frameworks. In this regard, we have made a substantial effort to make WISE a complete solution, that is, a system incorporating all the necessary functionality to be used in practice. We firmly believe the real challenge in electronic commerce is how to provide a complete solution. In our case, this meant to develop a software tool capable of supporting the entire life cycle of a virtual business process. We see these business processes as valuable assets which need to be not only defined and enacted but also maintained, updated, and monitored. WISE supports all these chores, thereby avoiding the drawbacks of many existing products:ad-hoc and costly development, expensive maintenance, and limited applicability.
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