Previous attempts to translate heavily worded legal documents into a workable electronic format capable of adaptation to specific circumstances have met with limited success. The ALDUS project (1990) ALDUS was enacted to examine possible areas of automation specifically with mind to the creation of sales contracts. At the conclusion of the project, however, it was decided that there were no viable economically feasible products upon which such tools could be built at the time. Fortunately this situation is changing and a number of new projects are starting to address the problem in depth.
Service negotiations in the current marketplace generalise to two different situations:
• Free Services – Often seen in scientific institutions; common during the development of new tools and services. This model is suitable only in business situations where client membership remains within a single administrative and organisational boundary. Services do not necessarily have to provide Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees, leading to a best effort situation in most circumstances. Given the trend towards distributed computing through VO development this model is untenable for widespread use.
• Economically supported services –
A more feasible business model but brings with it additional concerns.
An economic model requires attention to the following infrastructure
Traditionally service contracts are encountered in two forms, mainly dependent on the size and cost of a given contract.
• Standardised contracts based on a service classification. For example, Gold, Silver, Bronze etc. In these situations no customisation occurs, the possibilities for service requirement-capability matching is severely limited.
• Manual service negotiation, through meetings between client, service and legal aid. This model is most applicable to the VO vision as the negotiation can dynamically determine the most accurate compromise position possible. However, such processes clash with the need to maintain agility in the business process. It is this type of service negotiation that TRANSACT aims to emulate.
The DIRC grid project addressed these issues through the creation of the TRANSACT (Tool for Real-time Negotiation of Secure Authorisation Contracts) architecture. Over three years a prototype implementation making use of a number of different forms of requirement input was created. The output of this research can be seen in the papers listed below.
R. TRANSACT (Tool for Real-time Automation of Secure Authorisation Contracts).
R. Contract Negotiation, a Tale of Five Themes.
Lock R. Automated negotiation for service contracts.
Russell Lock (r dot lock at comp dot lancs dot ac dot uk)
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