Realization of Agile Enterprises: A Meet-in-the-Middle
MDA Approach for Service-Oriented Business Processes
Youcef Baghdadi
, Naoufel Kraiem
, Yassine Jamoussi
and Ricardo Pérez-Castillo
Department of Computer Science, Sultan Qaboos University
P.O. Box 36 – PC 123, Al-Khod, Oman
RIADI Lab, University of Manouba, Campus Universitaire de Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia
Alarcos Research Group, University of Castilla-La Mancha,
P. de la Universidad, 4 13071, Ciudad Real, Spain
Abstract. Enterprise agility is not possible if Business Processes (BPs) are rigid
and cannot respond to the environmental changes. One of the solutions is to
make service as part of the requirements and solution, by using services as the
main building blocks at different levels of abstraction. In this approach, we
model BPs by using specialized services having separated concerns. The
enterprises business objects, as implemented in the information system, provide
these services. This approach requires both reverse and forward engineering.
The former presents the existing information systems as a set of common,
consistent, sharable BOs. Whereas, the latter uses MDA to take profit of the
rapid transformation of the BP models into executable by using standards such
as BOs, web services and BPEL.
1 Introduction
To become agile, enterprises have to adapt their BPs in response to different Business
Events (BEs) such as different customer demand, new acquisition, or merging. The
achievement of this agility is difficult as: (i) BP modeling considers that all the
instances of the same BP run the same way, (ii) the architecture of the existing
Information System (IS) is siloed, which may not fully support the BPs by providing
them with the necessary data.
One of the solutions is to reengineer the BPs, by using a service-oriented business
modeling that stresses out the roles of SOA and web services, and the LIS. In this
modeling, a BP is first defined as a dynamic service that responds to BEs of different
natures. It specifies a state that reflects the control flow and data flow, where changes
in BEs are solely reflected in the state. The BP adapts to the state changes, which
allows a dynamic realization. This service is itself realized by enterprise service units
that play the role of service providers or units [1]. Then, it is modeled by using
specialized services having separated concerns. These are: (i) controller service, (ii)
state service, and (iii) worker services, where the controller service uses the state
service to select the worker services to invoke [2]. The worker services are
Baghdadi Y., Kraiem N., Jamoussi Y. and Pérez-Castillo R..
Realization of Agile Enterprises: A Meet-in-the-Middle MDA Approach for Service-Oriented Business Processes.
DOI: 10.5220/0004600301030110
In Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop in Software Evolution and Modernization (SEM-2013), pages 103-110
ISBN: 978-989-8565-66-2
2013 SCITEPRESS (Science and Technology Publications, Lda.)
themselves provided by shared, discoverable, reusable enterprise assets known as
Business Objects (BOs). In this modeling, the IS is constituted of a set of BOs, where
a BO is “a representation of a thing active in the business domain, including at least
its business name and definition, attributes, behavior, relationships, and constraints”
(OMG). BOs model the enterprise service units that encapsulate activities and data;
and provide them as services to all BPs.
This solution requires an integrated view of all the reengineering phases [3], i.e.,
reverse engineering, restructuring and forward engineering. The reverse engineering
first transforms the IS as a collection of BOs and presents the BPs with service-
oriented perspective. After that, during the restructuring stage the BP models are
modified and new business requirements are met to achieve agility. Finally, the
forward engineering phase (which is addressed by this paper) is based on MDA [4] to
take profit of the rapid transformation of the BP model into executable standards such
as web services, BPEL, and WS-CDL. According to the MDA principles, three
models at three different levels have to be considered:
At the Computational Independent Model (CIM) level, the modeler specifies the
multi-valued state to model the BP.
At the Platform Independent Model (PIM) level, the BP model is transformed by
using rules.
At the Platform Specific Model (PSM) level, the BP model is transformed into an
executable process such BPEL
This approach would have practical implications in terms of (i) compliance with SOA
for better integration and composition of BPs that responds to changing events, and
(ii) rapid modeling, enacting, and execution of BPs.
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows: Section 2 provides some
related work. Section 3 details the concepts of the BP modeling. Section 4 presents
the approach. Finally, a conclusion section provides future work.
2 Related Work
This work concerns with three perspectives: (1) modeling BPs as services, (2) reverse
engineer supporting ISs with respect to SOA, and (3) using MDA to forward engineer
BPs. From service-oriented BP modeling, the academics have raised the importance
of service-oriented as one of the top three issues to deal within BPs [5]. In [6], the
authors introduced service-oriented requirements engineering as a discipline aiming at
a better and more systematic handling and alignment of SOA and BPM. In [7], the
author proposed a business model for B2B integration through web services. The
authors in [8] proposed an approach for designing BPs in service-oriented way, where
a service composition process organizes the discovery, selection and assembly of
business services to build BPs tailored to business designer's requirements. In [9], the
author investigated how to extend Event-Process Chain (EPC) to come up with a new
modeling language for service-oriented BP management.
From a general perspective of modernizing ISs and BPs, different approaches have
been proposed [10]. In [11], the authors developed Marble to reengineer BPs within a
BP archeology. This approach makes it possible to obtain BP models from source
code and other software artifacts by reverse engineering. Efforts that concern with
modernization for SOA have been reported in [12]. In [13], the author proposed to
reverse engineer relational databases into services. In [14] the authors have defined a
technique to wrap legacy applications for reuse in a SOA.
From the perspective of mapping enterprise services into a given service-oriented
business modeling, there is a lack of approaches, though many authors such [15],
[16], and [17] have attempted to identify and classify services. For instance, the
authors in [18] propose to modernize legacy software system by using web services as
the main building blocks of the software reengineering.
From MDA perspective, only top-down approaches such as SoaML [19] have been
investigated to allow identification and specification of services. In [20], the authors
propose an MDA-based transformation technique for service composition. In [21]
[21], the authors propose a framework that adopts a holistic perspective on
interoperability in order to analyze and understand the business needs and the
technical requirements, and a multidisciplinary and model-driven solution approach to
solving the interoperability problems.
The drawback of these approaches is that they do not explicitly consider the
reengineering of the current LIS to provide the services that the agile enterprise
requires, neither have they used an MDA approach for service-oriented BP modeling.
3 Service-Oriented Business Process Modeling
A BP has a value expressed in terms of quality of services to customers. That is, a BP
is a description of a service provided to customers upon their demands (of different
natures). A set of coordinated activities realize the service. The IS supports these
activities by providing them with data they consume.
A BP modeling captures the relevant properties with respect to the above-
mentioned definition of BP. In our service-oriented modeling approach, specialized
services are used as constructs to represent the different relevant elements of BPs.
A BP has a set of state values (including initial and final state values) that the BP
modeler sets and changes over time when business requirements change. A state value
reflects the execution BP.
A service may be defined from business and technology perspectives [22]. In our
modeling, we use web services and data services.
Our service-oriented approach for BP modeling emphasizes the separation of
concerns that differentiate the activities of control and execution. Similarly, the data
packaged into BOs are separated from the state of the BP. Therefore, we specialize a
service into controller service, state service, and worker service.
The Controller Service (CS) is the central element of our modeling. It oversees a
BP execution through its state. The CS deals only with the control and coordination of
the BP. It invokes a State Service (SS) to retrieve the state of the BP; and accordingly
invokes the respective Worker Service (WK) and updates the BP state when any of
the WS terminates its job. The CS is invoked by an Initiator Web Service (IWS).
The Initiator Web Service (IWS) deals only with the initialization and starting of
an instance of the BP.
The State Service (SS) is a data service that represents the structure of the state of a
BP. It is used by the CS to retrieve the state of the BP.
The Worker Services (WKs) add value to a BP towards the achievement of its
goal. WKs are provided by BOs. The CS according to the BP state invokes them.
Inversely, WKs report the outcome of their execution to the CS.
WKs may use Data Services (DS) if necessary to retrieve simple or integrate data
from BOs. DSs retrieve or integrate the requested data from the BOs.
Business Object is “a representation of a thing active in the business domain,
including its business name and definition, attributes, behavior, relationships, and
constraints” (OMG). To represent BOs in a consistent way regardless of the needs of
BP modeling, we insist on the monolithic representation of the activities and data of
these BOs. Unfortunately, this representation is not happening nowadays as different
representations (or images) of the same BO are developed depending on the needs of
each organizational body, which leads to a limited view and inconsistency of BO
across the whole organization.
There are four types of relationships between these concepts: association,
specialization, realization, and use.
Association relationships indicate how the elements of a BP environment are
associated with each other. For instance, a BP is associated with an event, a set of
BOs, a set of states, including an initial state, and a final state.
Specialization relationships indicate the specific roles of some elements of the
model. For instance, a service may be a CS, a SS, or a WK.
Use relationships show that some services use the capabilities of others. For
instance, the CS uses both WKs and SS. The latter provides it with the state of the
BP, whereas the former perform the required activity. The IWS uses the CS.
Realization relationships show that WKs are realized in the IS by the BOs,
whereas the SS is realized by a specific data structure representing the state values.
4 MDA Approach for Service-Oriented Business
Process Modeling
The MDA approach uses models at three levels and the mapping between models.
These are Computational Independent Models (CIM), Platform Independent Models
(PIM) and Platform Specific Models (PSM). Using MDA to forward engineer the BPs
mainly consists in modeling BPs at all levels by services. Table 1 summarizes the
content of each MDA level (Column 2) along with the involved stakeholders (Colum
3), the techniques they use (Column 4), and their supporting information (Column 5).
Figure 1 sketches out the transformation approach. Since we are using standards
whenever applicable, the CIM uses an activity diagram instead of an ordered graph of
(business services), and the PSM uses the BPEL. The PIM contains a service-oriented
BP modeling.
Table 1. The process.
Content Stakeholder Techniques Sources
Value (context, goal)
Initial and Final States
Activity Diagrams
BP Modeler
BP Developer
BP Management
Option 1: Mapping activity
diagrams into composite
service (CS)
Option 2: Mapping
activities into Worker
BP Developer
Option 1: Mapping CS into
Option 2: Developing CS
Option 3: Mapping Worker
Services into Partner
BP Developer
Fig. 1. Transformation approach.
4.1 MDA Levels
At CIM Level, the modeler determines:
The Business Event (BE) that needs the execution of an artifact (BP service) in
order to get a response
Value (to consumers) : context aware value (context, goal)
The enterprise assets (e.g. IS)
A multi-valued state that is used to control the BP, by defining each value of the
state in terms of activities
State values that corresponds to the different exceptions
Different strategies, where each strategy deals with a distinct type of BE
At PIM Level
BOs playing the role of service providers
BO interfaces, where an interface present all the activities and data a BO may
WKs that wrap the BO activities into web services
DSs that wrap the BO data into data services
SS encapsulates the different values of the state and provides them as services. It is
used by the CS
CS that controls the flow of execution of the WKs
At PSM Level
Since our aim to use standards as much as possible, each CS would be mapped into
BPEL. However, any other executable language could be used instead of BPEL
4.2 Model Transformations
A CIM is the view of a system from a computation independent viewpoint. CIM
describes BPs without any reference to the solution. Stakeholders use this description
to build the architecture, which requires CIM must to be expressed in understandable
UML is the most referred modeling language. Its last version, UML2, is widely
adopted for modeling not only the application structure, but also its behavior, and
architecture [23]. Therefore, we recommend expressing the BP with UML diagram.
The activity diagram can describe the BP clearly (we can identify easily the BOs and
DSs) with a data flow and object’s state (useful to determinate the SSs).
The final goal of this approach is to develop a set of services. Each service
expresses a part of the BP.
In the PIM phase, we will transform data flow to a data service and the state object
to a state service. Using an analyzing data we can identify the controllers needed by
the system (each data transformation is an execution method or function). With the
flow of data we can also detect the relationship between services. For example, if
service j needs data providing from service k so we can say that service juses”
service k.
In the PSM, the choice of the service type (web service, BPEL, etc) will be explicitly
defined and modulated. The transformation of PIM to PSM depends on this choice.
Every element of PIM (DS, SS, or WK) will be transformed to conform to this
architectural choice. In Figure 1, the service type is BPEL. The PIM artifacts are
WKs, SS, DSs and CS.
A set of transformation operation was executed (mapping, BPEL XML, BPEL
engine) to build a BP PSM. The PIM provides reuse (the goal of MDA approach).
Once we want to change service type, we have just to retransform artifacts.
5 Conclusions
We have defined a service-oriented business process modeling with respect to a
certain level of maturity, where services are part of the requirements and the solution.
This would smooth the transformation from higher abstract level to lower ones. That
is elements of business process environment are modeled as services, including
controller service, state service and worker services.
Then, we have used MDA for forward engineering to reuse existing standards,
namely activity diagram, at CIM level, and BPEL, at PSM level.
Then, we have sketched out the transformation process from CIM to PIM and from
Although, we have presented approaches and processes for transformation
techniques having a real impact on the way BPs should responsive to the changes in
the business requirements by using web service-based SOA, this work has limitation.
Therefore, we would consider that this work has presented the service-oriented
business process as rather a roadmap towards research issues and questions related to
transformation techniques than a definitive solution. We need to develop tools and dig
deeper in the different transformation techniques.
We need to develop tools and dig deeper in the different transformation techniques
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