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Architecture for information brokerage service


The ABS project is focusing on the design, specification, implementation and validation of an open broker architecture to permit the efficient provision of online information services, in the context of electronic commerce, over the forthcoming European Information Infrastructure. The project has the three main objectives:
-To define and specify an Information Brokerage Service Architecture based on ODP-RM and TINA concepts,
-To design and implement prototypes of an open brokerage system using CORBA and JAVA,
-To validate the service by conducting regional and international trials in real life electronic commerce environments.
Expected Achievements
The R&D work of ABS will result in a validated Architecture for Information Brokerage and working prototype service. Substantial contributions to the standardisation of common interfaces and protocols between the broker platforms and between a broker platform and broker clients will be realised.
ABS will maintain proactive cooperation with several projects dealing with the subject of brokerage, mediation such as COBRA, OSM, GAIA and MULTIMEDIATOR. ABS will reuse to a large extent results from on-going ACTS projects, notably Retina (TINA DPE platform) and SEMPER (security features). Within the context of the ACTS concertation, ABS will contribute to Domain V concertation activities. The planned international trials will require cooperation with Domain III projects, notably NICE and JAMES (for providing high speed ATM international links).
Expected Impact
ABS aims to pave the way to the emergence of new and innovative broker services and to keep European countries in front of the competition in this important area of the future electronic commerce.

Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main deliverables
Validation of an open broker architecture to permit the efficient provision of online information services, in the context of electronic commerce.
Contribution to the programme
Paves the way to the emergence of new and innovative broker services and keeps European countries in front of the competition in this important area of the future electronic commerce.
Technical Approach
ABS follows the general methodology of: - Building on existing international standards, available R&D results (TINA, OMG EC TDF) and available products and systems to minimise development risks.
- Applying the TINA description plane model as the methodical approach.
- Progressive implementation plan, starting with a 'kernel' system and continuing by integrating more complex functions.
ABS Broker business model
As a first result a comprehensive Enterprise Model has been developed.
Brokerage is viewed as a service component of a general Mediation platform. Its main task is to supply the symmetrical conjunction of demand and supply processes.
In order to facilitate this the following necessary functionalities have been identified:
- demand definition support
- catalogues management
- directory and navigation functions
- offer registration
- Federation function
- dynamic search
- interfaces to external functions
The interfaces with external components provide supporting capabilities: like authentication, billing and accounting.
Service Architecture
The ABS Broker service architecture will be compliant with the TINA-C Service architecture to allow development work to take advantage of the existing DPE platforms such as ORBIX and ReTINA's prototypes.
Overall plan
April 1997: Specifications for the first broker version will be finalised.
October 1997: In a first Trial, the components of the first Broker version will be validated.
January 1998: Using the results and the feedback from the first Trial, specifications for the final Broker version will be realised.
September 1998: A second international Trial will be used to validate the Broker System.
Description of Trials
The trials will involve cooperation with representative end users through the participation of a large number of National Hosts (France, Germany, Spain, Finland, Portugal and Greece) and several Internet-based content providers such as Degriftour in France and Point Of Presence in Germany.
Consistent with the phased implementation, two main trials will be organised and conducted.
Trial 1 description
The first trial will begin in October 1997 and consists of two regional trials in France and Germany. The main purpose of the trial is to validate the kernel functionalities of the System. The trial platform in France will use the existing high speed ATM-based infrastructure which is now installed and operational in Lannion France. In the Lannion area, some 250 pilot residential users will be able to access a large variety of interactive multimedia services such as VOD, NVOD or high speed Internet services.
The German trial is featuring an Online Shopping mall and Retailer service over the public Internet. The offered service consists of the federation of several information sources. End users can plan or book a trip to some place in Europe or acquire additional related information (public transport, maps, videos etc.) or products (travel books, guides etc.) which are related to the selected destination. End users selected from PoP customer base will be invited to join the trial.
Trial 2 description
The second trial will begin September 1998.
Trial 2 is characterised by:
- the interconnection of at least three broker service providers,
- usage of the final broker version,
- usage of the Service Management Tools,
- usage of public ATM connections,
- a larger number of content providers and end-users.
Beyond testing and validating the system's functionalities, it is an important objective of the trials to provide the Specification and Evaluation process for the final Broker version with results and feedback.
Key Issues
The projects key issues are:
-to involve all stakeholder representatives: users, PNOs, Value-added services providers, Internet communities.
-to reach a large consensus on broker business model, service definition and functional architecture.
-to build the broker system from generic T-ORB kernel by integrating application-level functions.


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Participants (9)

Point of Presence GmbH
Portugal Telecom-CET
VTT Information Technology