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A Conceptual and Technological Framework for Full Interoperability


Interoperability, the ability of two or more entities in different heterogeneous systems to exchange information to achieve their goals, is an essential non-functional requirement for most environments mediated by software systems. In order to ensure the required interoperability, these systems must agree on interaction structural and behavioral aspects among different entities, and later, identify possible computational solutions that can help the development of these interoperable entities. LCIM (Levels of Conceptual Interoperability) is a reference model in which interoperability is classified as non-existent, technical, syntactic, pragmatic, dynamic, and conceptual. Full interoperability is achieved when software systems achieve all desired levels of interoperability, from the most basic to the highest level. LCIM has guided many research papers over the years; however, this model no longer supports the interoperability diversity of the current interoperability scenario in software systems. Other models and reference architectures have been proposed; however, also limited to a given domain or a specific set of interoperability levels. More than thirty different interoperability types are pointed out in the current literature, often varying according to domain needs for establishing its specific mechanisms. In this way, such solutions and their advances remain restricted to the contexts for which they were proposed. Therefore, aspects related to a certain interoperability level are often treated by the applications implicitly, generating tightly coupled systems, hindering their evolution and, so, full interoperability. This research project aims to specify a conceptual and technological framework to promote full interoperability. For this, the framework will comprise (i) a reference model (which will aggregate interoperability types, their concepts and relationships); and (ii) possible computational solutions for the implementation of each type of interoperability. Thus, the main research challenge to be addressed in this project is to promote the understanding of different interoperability types and their solutions, helping software systems to establish mechanisms for achieving full interoperability. By establishing a common understanding of types diversity and possible solutions to be used, the objective is to contribute to cost and effort minimization of the development of interoperable computational solutions. This research project proposal is associated with the Thematic Project entitled "Technologies and Solutions to Enable the Paradigm of Clouds of Things," funded by FAPESP (Process N.: 2015/24144-7)) and, therefore, the framework will be evaluated in the context of this thematic project. The framework is expected to contribute as a new reference model that helps different interoperability concepts and solutions stabilization required in current systems that aim for full interoperability. Additionally, it is expected to have papers published in international vehicles in the area, including qualified journals with a high impact factor, to contribute to the software development industry and establish a long-term collaboration between the research groups of the IC/UFBA and ICMC/USP. (AU)

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