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« Thoughts on oBIX 2.0: Defining Enterprise Services | The Taxonomies of oBIX »
Sunday
Jul212013

Service Oriented Scheduling (Part 1)

Some interesting new interaction patterns, and new business models, can be found by combining WS-Calendar and EMIX Terms. WS-Calendar is a specification for constructing web-services that incorporate iCalendar, the long-established basis for personal scheduling. EMIX is an information model built to support the exchange of market related information between suppliers and buyers of energy.

Service orientation names a pattern for systems interaction in which system exchange minimal information about each other. Service interactions do not specify underlying mechanisms and processes. A system that offers a service does not care which system invokes it; a service can be used by many systems. Service integration pulls system together in a manner analogous to how we build the web; we link pages and applications together without worrying what software operates each server. Service integration maximizes code re-use while enabling rapid evolution of systems.

WS-Calendar addresses the implicit assumption that all services are “instant”. Everyone knows they are not. A merchant might select a credit card processor because of a faster approval service. Still, the request is always “Approve this now!” WS-Calendar defines the messages to request “Do it tomorrow, at 9:00, and keep on doing it for one hour.” As we begin interacting with the internet of things, this capability will grow in importance.

The iCalendar family of standards is broader than the simple meeting request most of us are familiar with. iCalendar describes a family of message types: events, tasks, to-dos, et al. in the core specification, recently updated in RFC 5545. iCalendar also defines a pattern of building messages so that new types can be defined. Two new message types that are drawing interest are Availability and Polling.

vAvailability (all iCalendar message types begin with a “v”) describes how to indicate recurring patterns of time during which one is available (or unavailable). Depending upon application, other information could be included. For example, a plumber could publish a schedule (availability) with a labor rate for business hours, another schedule with rate for early evening and Saturday service, and still a third for overnight service. Availability can be stacked; that plumber can lay a short-term unavailability atop the other schedules, interrupting the standing availabilities with a vacation. vAvailability optionally includes an indication of granularity of schedule perhaps the plumber indicates a one hour minimum. Using WS-Calendar, we have a machine-readable way to advertise when a service is available for invocation.

vPoll addresses the process of “voting” for a schedule. An event organizer can send out a range of times (indicated with vAvailability) for a meeting. Recipients can rank the options, including pricing the various options. After polling, the decision of which time to select is still left to the organizer.

WS-Calendar gives us the semantic tools for machine-to-machines scheduling and optimization of resources.

In a later note, I will describe how EMIX Terms add critical additional information for service oriented interactions in the Internet of Things.

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