Enterprise Interoperability: A Standardisation View
(Short version)

David Chen1 and François Vernadat2
1LAP/GRAI, University Bordeaux I, France
2MACSI-INRIA & LGPIM, ENIM/Université de Metz, France,

Without standards there will be no interoperability. The objective of the paper is to identify issues and review standards relating to enterprise interoperability in intra and inter-organisational environment. It focuses on standards in the area of manufacturing activities and is presented from the point of view of users who design and implement enterprise systems. The paper presents some basic concepts and definitions to clarify the concept of enterprise interoperability. The link and difference between interoperability and integration are tentatively discussed. Further, the paper provides an overview on standards in the area of enterprise modelling and engineering. Although these standards do not directly deal with the interoperability issues, they contribute to improve the ability of interoperation as well. Finally, standards and projects are reviewed, that significantly support the achievement of enterprise interoperability.

Enterprise modelling and engineering are prerequisites to Enterprise Interoperability. This section briefly presents an overview of standards related to enterprise modelling and engineering. The main standards for this area have been developed by CEN TC310/WG1 (European Standardisation Committee), ISO TC184/SC5/WG1 and to a lesser degree OMG (Object Management Group). Concerning enterprise modelling, one can mention:
ENV 40003 (1990) Modelling Framework for Enterprise Integration
ISO 14258 (1998) Concepts and Rules for Entreprise Models
ISO 15704 (1998) Reqirements for Entreprise Architectures and Methodologies
ISO/IEC 15288 (1999) Life-Cycle Management Sytem / Life Cycle Processes

These standards define concepts and principles in terms of architecture and methodology for enterprise modelling and engineering. They do not deal with the representation of how an enterprise is structured or operated.

Enterprise modelling languages that can be used within the frame of the standards mentioned above have also been a concern for standardisation. For example:
ENV 12204 (1995) Constructs for Enterprise Modelling
ISO 18629 (2001) Process Specification Language (PSL)
ISO 10303/11 (1992) EXPRESS
ISO/IEC 15414 (2000) Open Distributed Processing (ODP) - Enterprise Language
ISO/IEC 15909 (1997) High Level Petri Nets

Among them, ENV 12204 and ISO 15414 support multi-view enterprise modelling. PSL, Petri nets and EXPRESS are formal languages that can be directly implemented on computers. Future work in this area is related to the initiative to develop UEML (Unified Enterprise Modelling Language) (Vernadat, 2001; IST-34229, 2001). An enterprise model built using a specific language (for example IDEF0) can be translated into another one (e.g. GRAI nets) via UEML constructs used as a neutral format.

Standardisation also contributes to the development of reusable models (or partial models) that represent parts of enterprise structures in terms of processes, information, resources… The use of these models in enterprise engineering can shorten design delays and increase modelling consistency. Main reference documents are:
ISO TR 10314, (1991) Reference Model for Shop Floor Production Standards 
ISA-dS95, (1999) Enterprise-Control System Integration
ISO 15531, (2000) Manufacturing Management Data Exchange (MANDATE)

Further chapters deal with standardisation topics as terminology issues, message-based interoperability, manufacturing software interoperability, and manufacturing and business process interoperability. Enterprise Interoperability is concerned with communication and co-operation between software components, processes, organisation units and humans. To make interoperability happen, exchange of concepts is a key issue. Thus, terminology must be agreed and semantic equivalence established.

Concerning application integration, standards are concerned with the IT based services, which are built upon the seven layers proposed by ISO 7498 OSI model (ISO/IEC 7498-1, 1994). Generally speaking, these services contribute to improve software interoperability. The main approaches are:
ENV 13550, (1995) Enterprise Model Execution and Integration Services (EMEIS)
ISO 15414, (2000) Inform. Technology - Open Distributed Processing – Ref. Model
ISO 13281.2, (1996) Manufacturing Automation Programming Environment (MAPLE)
TOGAF (Open Group, 2000) Technical Reference Model
OMA (OMG, 1992) Open Management Architecture
OAGIS (OAG, 2001) Open Applications Group Integration Specification

The authors conclude that in order to meet new industrial challenges, there is a shift from the paradigm of total integration to that of interoperation, which holds the promise for more flexibility. Relevant standardisation activities focusing on interoperability have just started and most work remains to be done. It has been found that Internet-based technology standards play an important role to move and transfer data/messages more easily. These approaches have been mainly developed by non-institutional organisations such as OMG, W3C and OAG, and remain de facto standards. Standards elaborated by ISO and CEN have focused more on modelling aspects dealing with the specifications of resources (e.g. software profile) and processes (PSL) as well as their related semantic and syntax problems. One of the issues for the future is to establish the link between these two communities and to map these standards to a consistent framework.

Few standards exist that directly relate to Enterprise Interoperability per se. However, it is important to note that interoperability is not only a problem of technology. It implies a better and mutual understanding between partners involved in the interoperation. Cultural inertia will limit the effectiveness and use of standards to design interoperable systems. Consequently, an entity (be it a company or a department within a company) must actively engage to a self-adapting process in terms of working procedures and culture so as to facilitate a maximum exchanges of information with the outside world.

The full paper is printed by Kluver Publications in the Proceedings of the ICEIMT'02 Conference: 'Enterprise Inter- and Intraorganizational Integration, Building International Consensus' , Ed. K. Kosanke (2002), ISBN 1-4020-7277-5

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