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< Contents ERCIM News No. 59, October 2004

TrustCoM - A Trust and Contract Management Framework enabling Secure Collaborations in Dynamic Virtual Organisations

by Theo Dimitrakos, Michael Wilson and Santi Ristol

TrustCoM is a new European integrated project that aims to develop a framework for trust, security and contract management in dynamic Virtual Organisations. The framework will enable the secure enactment of collaborative business processes in self-managed, and dynamic value-chains of businesses and governments. The framework will leverage and extend the emerging convergence of open-standards, and in particular Web Services, and open Grid Services architectures. Validation will take place within industrial strength test-beds in collaborative engineering and electronic business. This article provides an overview of the TrustCoM project vision, objectives and anticipated results.

Recent years have seen an unprecedented acceleration in the evolution of the Internet as the technological vehicle underpinning the expansion of service provision and inter-/intra- enterprise integration in all market sectors. This brings about the prospect of ad hoc integration of systems across organisational boundaries to support collaborations that may last for a single transaction or evolve dynamically over many years. This sets new requirements for scalability, responsiveness and adaptability that necessitate the on-demand creation and self-management of dynamically evolving virtual organisations (VO) spanning national and enterprise borders, where the participating entities (enterprises or individuals) pool resources, information and knowledge in order to achieve common objectives. The objectives may be short term - eg to deliver a one-off service in response to a specific customer demand - or long-lasting. In the latter case, the VO's structure, business processes and operational infrastructure must adapt as the goals of the collaboration, the participating entities, the business context and the technologies employed, change.

Emerging ICT paradigms such as Autonomic computing, Utility computing and Grid computing are making the formation and operation of virtual organisations easier by providing dynamic management of the distribution of computational processes across available resources. Notwithstanding the major ICT breakthroughs of the last two decades, protecting one’s assets while integrating services, processes and resources, remains a major ICT challenge. Overcoming such challenges requires the development of novel technology realising innovative ideas over widely acceptable interoperable platforms. The required scalability, responsiveness and adaptability for dynamic virtual organisations, makes the provision of cost effective trust and contract management solutions for VO environments, the most demanding and timely research challenge in this field. Effective solutions require interdisciplinary approaches, at a global level, integrating tools from law, cognitive and social science in addition to telecommunications and computing.

The TrustCOM Project
In response to this challenge, the European Commission and a consortium of end-users, major software vendors and telecom operators, and academic research organisations, are implementing the new Integrated Project TrustCoM, which is conducting multidisciplinary research in order to deliver:

  • a novel trust and contract management reference architecture that will enable collaborative work within on-demand created and self-managed dynamic VOs leveraging on the emerging convergence of Web Services and Grid technologies
  • a set of conceptual models explaining the fundamental concepts, principles and methods underpinning the above architecture. Effectively these provide the meta-model of any new architectural constructs that may result from TrustCoM research
  • a set of profiles, that bring together and potentially extend selected Web/Grid Services specifications at specific version levels, along with conventions about how they work together to support potential implementations of the TrustCoM framework
  • a reference implementation of the above integrating and extending already established or emerging interoperability standards for autonomic security, trust and contract management based on Web and Grid services technology
  • system and software engineering tools and methods analysis the VO life-cycle and offering a library of design patterns and generic software components implementing selected services that offer the core functionalities of the VO
  • testbeds exhibiting instantiations of the above architecture and reference implementation into two classes of realistic application scenarios, namely collaborative engineering (CE) and provision of ad-hoc aggregated services (ADP)
  • selected demonstrators exhibiting the business value and benefits of the TrustCoM framework in the abovementioned application domains
  • studies analysing selected aspects of the legal and socio-economic context that underpins such Virtual Organisations.
TrustCOM Consortium.
TrustCOM Consortium.

The TrustCOM Consortium
The TrustCoM consortium brings together researcher from many major middleware vendors and provides a balanced blend of academic and applied researchers, end-user organisations, and enterprises looking to utilise results in products and services. As such it is well-placed to define, conduct and exploit leading edge research that is relevant to the needs of European business, government and society.


Please contact:
Theo Dimitrakos, Scientific Coordinator, CCLRC, UK

Michael Wilson, Programme Manager, CCLRC, UK

Santi Risto, Operations Manager, Cataluña, Atos Origin,Spain