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ERCIM News No.50, July 2002

Dyade — A Successful Cooperation between Bull and INRIA

by Patrick Valduriez

Dyade (1986-2001) was a strategic R&D joint venture between Bull and INRIA in information and communication technology. Innovative technologies produced by Dyade were transferred to Bull product divisions or released as open source software. Dyade also gave birth to four start-up companies: TrustedLogic, KelKoo, Jalios and Scalagent.

Recognizing the new dimension of Information (ICT) and its major impact on economical and social growth, Bull and INRIA created Dyade in march 1996 as a five-year Economic Interest Group with about 50 people. Dyade’s mission was to identify and develop innovative ICT with strong market potential, to demonstrate the industrial strength of the developed technologies with pilot users, and to transfer the results to either Bull or start-ups from Bull and INRIA. The incentive for Bull was to increase its technology portfolio and gain access to a fast-growing, high-potential market. The motive for INRIA was to transfer research results to industry and identify research directions that are strategic for industry.

Dyade engaged in a number of R&D actions, each sponsored by a Bull division and focused on an ICT domain where INRIA could bring its researchers’ expertise. An action would then associate INRIA researchers and Bull engineers at a single location (an INRIA site) to work together on a specific topic with the objective of demonstrating the industrial interest within one or two years. Actions were conducted in the following domains:

  • formal methods, based on either mathematical logic or model checking, applied to security (eg certification of security protocols and architectures) or the validation of complex computer architectures such as multiprocessor or smartcard
  • multimedia technologies applied to graphic interface development or intelligent video-surveillance
  • network technologies and services including the implementation of IPv6 and ATM protocols, video-conferencing services over TCP/IP and network management services
  • distributed information management technologies including agent-based technologies for building and deploying distributed applications, mediator technologies for discovering and accessing distributed data sources, and content-management technologies for sharing information on the Web.

Transfer to Bull’s Product Divisions
Formal methods were successfully used to test and validate multiprocessor and smartcard products. In particular, the Java Virtual Machine in Bull’s smartcard Odyssey was implemented by Dyade. Agent-based technologies were used to improve the Netwall product. Graphic interface development technologies and network management technologies were integrated in the OpenMaster platform. Dyade’s IPv6 implementation was integrated in the IBM’s AIX operating system by Bull and IBM.

Open Source Software
The main technologies released were JORAM, an implementation of the Java Messaging Service on top of the agent middleware; RMI-JDBC, a Java gateway allowing transparent remote database access; Koala-Graphics, a graphics layer over Java AWT library; and JSMAN, a number of Java components for network management. The success of these technologies led to the creation of the ObjectWeb consortium in February 2002 (see ERCIM News no. 48) whose objective is to federate the development of an OSS object infrastructure.

Creation of start-ups by Dyade members. TrustedLogic, created in 1999, specializes in security technologies and services based on formal methods. KelKoo, created in 2000, uses Dyade’s mediator technology for comparing Web merchant sites. It is now the number one Internet buying guide in Europe. Jalios, created in 2001, develops and sells Web content-management solutions tailored to companies’ business needs. Scalagent, created in 2002, specializes in developing mediation solutions for B2B applications using agent-based technologies.

In parallel to technology transfer, Dyade produced excellent research results: 15 PhD theses and over 80 research papers which were published in the best specialized journals and conferences. Within Dyade, researchers could take advantage of a real experimental environment for proof-of-concept. For instance, the formal validation of cache coherency protocols for large multiprocessors helped finding new solutions for scaling up model-checking tools to very high numbers of states.

In retrospect, Dyade has been quite successful in terms of technology transfer and research results. The first reason is obviously the high quality and motivation of the INRIA researchers and Bull engineers who made Dyade real. But there are two other important reasons. One is the major commitment of Bull and INRIA’s management which defined the original vision and allocated significant resources to the actions. The other reason was an efficient, light-weight management structure with independent actions, each sponsored by a Bull product division having strong interest in getting back results.


Please contact:
Patrick Valduriez, INRIA