Ensuring Reliability in B2B Services: Fault Tolerant Inter-Organizational Workflows

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In the age of Business-to-Business (B2B) collaboration, ensuring reliability of workflows underlying inter-organizational business processes is of significant importance. There are, however, quite a few challenges towards achieving seamless operation. Such challenges arise from heterogeneity in infrastructure and coordination mechanism at participant organizations, as well as time and cost associated with recovery from failure. Our research presents foundations for a reliable scheme for recovery from failure of workflow processes spanning through multiple business entities. First, a system model is adapted from the mobile computing literature that serves to establish the requirements to be enforced by each participating organization. In our model, we adopt the Maximal Sequence Path (MSP) approach from Yoo et al. (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 2132:222–236, 2001), as a means of decomposing workflows into mobile agent-driven processes that communicate via web services at each organization. This decomposition ensures defining logical points within the dynamics of a workflow instance for locating accurate and consistent states of the system for recovery in case of a failure. Then, a set of algorithms for various business scenarios are developed and presented as practical solutions. These algorithms are shown to create checkpoints such that the system is always in a globally consistent state. As such, these algorithms constitute a set of standards that can be incorporated in business process management suites that support reliable inter-organizational collaboration.

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Information Systems Frontiers





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