Enterprise interoperability qualifies the faculty of enterprise to establish a partnership activity (in product design, organization of the activities of production, supply chains piloting) in an efficient and competitive way in an environment of unstable market. Also, inside a company, the need in interoperability of the various services is very generally identified.
If the need of interoperability is established today clearly, the solutionnement is interpreted at various levels (business, organization, computing) and by various actors (commercial, services computing, manufacturing).
The research in interoperability of enterprise practised in is various domains itself (Enterprise Modelling, Ontologies, Information systems, Architectures and Platforms) which it is a question of positioning.
Enterprise interoperability topics
Interoperability in enterprise architecture
Enterprise architecture (EA) presents a high level design of enterprise capabilities in order to define successful IT projects in coherence with enterprise principals and business related requirements. EA covers mainly (i) the business capabilities analysis and validation; (ii) the development of business, application, data and technical architectures and solutions, and finally (iii) the control of programme and project implementation and governance. The application of EA methodology feeds the enterprise repository reference frame with sets of building blocks used to compose the targeted system.
The interoperability can be considered either as a principal, requirement or constraint that impact the definition of patterns to compose building blocks in the definition of targeted architectural roadmap. In this scope, EA within the TOGAF perspective, aims to reconcile interoperability requirements with potential solutions in order to enhance the capability of developed systems to be interoperable. So as to maintain the interoperability challenge quite present in the next steps of system’s lifecycle, several models and Frameworks are developed under the topic enterprise interoperability.
Enterprise interoperability frameworks
In order to preserve interoperability, several enterprise interoperability frameworks can be identified in the literature:
- 2003: IDEAS: Interoperability Developments for Enterprise Application and Software.
- 2004: EIF: The European Interoperability Framework
- 2004: e-GIF: e-Government Interoperability Framework
- 2006: FEI: The Framework for Enterprise Interoperability
- 2006: C4IF: Connection, Communication, Consolidation, Collaboration Interoperability Framework
- 2007: AIF: Athena Interoperability Framework
- 2007: Enterprise Architecture Framework for Agile and Interoperable Virtual Enterprises
The majority of these frameworks considers enterprise at several aspects, viewpoints or abstraction levels: business, process, knowledge, application, technology, data, technic, etc. and proposes guidelines to support modeling and connection capabilities between these levels. The semantic challenge is considered as transversal to all these abstraction levels. In order set-up and apply the guidelines and methodologies developed within these frameworks, modeling efforts are required to identify and connect artifacts.
Interoperability in software engineering
The evolution of IT technologies aims to outsource IT capabilities to be managed by vendors in order to be used on demand. The evolution pathway starts form packaged solutions and goes through Infrastructure as a service (Iaas), Platform as a service (Paas), Software as a service (Saas) and recently the Cloud. Interoperability efforts are still mainly expected among these levels:
- strategy to business
- business to processes
- processes to application
Dealing with business process definition, alignment, collaboration and interoperability, several international standards propose methodologies and guidelines in these perspectives:
- ISO 15704—Requirements for enterprise-reference architectures and methodologies
- CEN-ISO DIS 19439—Framework for Enterprise Modeling
- CEN-ISO WD 19440—Constructs for Enterprise Modeling
- ISO 18629—Process specification language
- ISO/IEC 15414—ODP Reference Model—Enterprise Language
In addition, recent standards (BPMN, BPEL, etc.) and their implementation technologies propose relevant integration capabilities. Furthermore, model driven-engineering  provides capabilities in order to connect, transform and refine models to support interoperability.
Metrics for interoperability maturity assessment
- LISI: Levels of Information Systems Interoperability
- OIM: Organizational Interoperability Model
- NMI: NC3TA reference Model for Interoperability
- LCIM: Levels of Conceptual Interoperability Model
- EIMM: Enterprise Interoperability Maturity Model
- Smart Grid Interoperability Maturity Model Rating System
For the several interoperability aspects identified previously, the listed maturity approaches define interoperability categories (or dimensions) and propose qualitative as well as qualitative cross cutting issues to assess them. While interoperability aspects are not covered by a single maturity approach, some propositions go deeply in the definition of metric dimensions at one interoperability aspect such as the business interoperability measurement proposed by Aneesh.
- Chen, D., Doumeingts, G., and Vernadat, F. 2008. Architectures for enterprise integration and interoperability: Past, present and future. Comput. Ind. 59, 7 (Sep. 2008), 647–659. (English) : DOI
- TOGAF® 9 Certified, 2nd edition. The Open Group, 2011.
- “A Contribution to Enterprise Interoperability Maturity Assessment”
- EIF 2.0 http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/servlets/Docb0db.pdf
- Peristeras, V., and K. Tarabanis (2006): The Connection, Communication, Consolidation, Collaboration Interoperability Framework (C4IF) for Information Systems Interoperability, International Journal of Interoperability in Business Information Systems (IBIS), Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 61-72.
- Handbook of Enterprise Systems Architecture in Practice, 2007
- Ford T., et al. Measuring System Interoperability: An i-Score Improvement. Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research. Los Angeles, CA, April 4–5, 2008