Introduction: The ESSnet CORE (COmmon Reference Environment) continues the work of a previous ESSnet called CORA (COmmon Reference Architecture), which finished in October 2010, and produced the definition of an architectural model together with proof-of-concept software prototypes. Starting from CORA results, CORE extends the architectural model by defining a complete information model that takes into account process modeling, and specifically definition of sub-processes and communication interfaces. CORE provides a software environment for the automated execution of statistical processes, defined according to the designed information model.
CORE goes in the direction of fostering the sharing of tools among NSIs. Indeed, a tool developed by a specific NSI can be wrapped according to the extended CORA model (e-CORA) and thus easily integrated within a statistical process of another NSI. Moreover, having a single environment for the execution of entire statistical processes provides an high level of automation in process execution.
Concepts and Objectives of the Action
The first objective of CORE is to extend CORA model by defining the new information model e-CORA. Specifically, we will take the CORA model (including GSBPM) as a starting point, and turn it into a fully elaborated information model that covers business concepts, statistical goals and methods, as well as operational logic and implementation aspects. The resulting model must have the power to describe the relationships that link statistical goals to methods, methods to operations, and operations to software tools. Elements of process modeling, such as subdivision of processes in partial processes and in steps, as well as interfaces between steps, must explicitly be part of the information model. The role SDMX can play in this model must also be taken into consideration. Specifically, a possible mapping between SDMX and the e-CORA model will be investigated in order to take into fully account results and tools already available for SDMX. Moreover, besides SDMX, relationships between e-CORA and other European standardization efforts concerning statistical data will be also considered.
The second objective is related to the analysis of a list of tools and to the study of the effort necessary to integrate such tools into the e-CORA model. In particular, starting from the inventory of tools that was prepared within CORA, we will select some tools to be used within some statistical processes executed in the CORE framework. Then we will perform a specific evaluation of the feasibility and of the cost necessary to integrate such tools.
The third objective of the project is related to (i) the definition of a way of exchanging data between tools designed inside GSBPM sub-processes, and the (ii) development of components wrapping such tools in order to integrate them.
CORA has defined a technical architecture for tools that has the following qualities:
- Tools are encapsulated into statistical services that are well-defined in terms of GSBPM process and data aggregation level. These services can be understood by statisticians.
- The communication is the same for all tools, regardless of their technical implementation. This means that a tool implementing the CORA protocol can be integrated into the infrastructure of each NSI that supports CORA, regardless of other tools, underlying operating systems and hardware.
For these qualities to be realized by actual technical components, the following topics have to be addressed by CORE:
- Describe exactly what data have to be exchanged between tools (the data themselves as well as metadata and process data). For this, existing project results on these kinds of data will be examined and reused.
- Describe exactly how the data will be communicated (data format, communication protocols, necessary support for operating systems, DBMS, middleware and other elements of the infrastructure).
- Provide a way to define process to be executed in the framework.
- Provide a way to specify services implementing processes to be executed in the framework. The development of services will be performed by using two different technological solutions: Java and .Net. In this way, we will underline the technological independence of the CORE compliant services, by choosing an open source and a proprietary platform.
The fourth CORE objective is the analysis of possible middleware solutions to implement CORE compliant workflow. CORA describes what statistical processes look like, but only covers the IT aspects of how to translate individual process steps into technical services and service cores. The IT aspects of how to translate the interaction between process steps, which is concerned with process execution, workflow management, exception handling, etcetera, has not yet been covered by CORA. The technical implementation of this service interaction, that is essentially the embodiment of the statistical process according to CORA, will give meaning to the statistical services that will be the result of CORE. This implementation will enable the NSIs to integrate these CORE services into working processes. This requires the following topics to be addressed by CORE:
- Investigate the requirements that CORA (as the business context) and the services defined by CORE (as the technical components) impose on the integration middleware.
- Elaborate on a few example scenarios based on concrete middleware solutions on how different NSIs could implement or use the required middleware and connect their services.
In the following we list the work packages into which the workplan is structured:
- WP1: Project management
- WP2: Design of the information model according to GSBPM and alignment with NSI's information models
- WP3: Generic interface design for interconnecting GSBPM sub-processes
- WP4: Research workflow solutions for process management
- WP5: Implementation library for generic interface and production chain for .NET
- WP6: Implementation library for generic interface and production chain for Java
- WP7: Project dissemination and cost reporting