DIGICOR participated in a joint workshop organised by EU funded vf-OS project. In that workshop, the DIGICOR Exploitation Manager Dr. Usman Wajid (ICE) chaired a session on Platform Interoperability. This session focused on the need for vertical ICT platforms to be communicable, operable, and programmable to support mass adoption and reuse of technology
The session chair introduced a simplistic and modular approach to enable platform interoperability across FoF cluster. The approach breaks down the interoperability issues in a three tier hierarchy.
The first tier is concerned with ‘Platform Management’. It focuses on the separation of ‘identification’ from ‘services’ to allow ‘Shared Access’ across different platforms. Steps taken and solutions implemented at this level should allow users to navigate through multiple platforms and identify points of interest.
There are different security standards (e.g. SAML, OAuth) and open-source technology solutions (e.g. KeyCloak) that support shared access and identity and user-rights management. However, while making the case for interoperability and open APIs, lets not ignore the argument for non-interoperability. For example, as we want to support interoperability there are still issues of IPR, there are still issues of technology preferences, niche functionalities and business interests. How do we support those business interests and exploitation interests with this horizontal interoperability layer across vertical platforms?
With that the next hierarchal level of interoperability pyramid is ‘Application Management’. Once users have access to the platform, they know what is on offer, the platform developers and providers should look at making application and services accessible to the users, either locally or through remote access. Here the popular approach is to support the uptake of modular applications development and packaging mechanisms (e.g. Docker) that make it easier to port application across multiple platforms. With that the idea is to support development of reusable functionalities that can be ported and offered via different platforms.
An example of such functionality is Xamarin Studio, which provides a single development environment to develop mobile applications for different platforms. The Xamarin approach can be investigated in the FoF projects, because we have application development environment being developed across different project. We can look at how a la-Xamarin approach can be supported to make the applications available to a wider user community whilst still being able to protect their IPR and Exploitation interest.
Here the discussion points include supporting verticalisation of platforms, room for diversity and individual or innovative interests. Thus, there needs to be a balance between the drive for interoperability and the vertical developments that are taking place across the platforms.
The top level of interoperability pyramid is “Integration”, which can prove a more complex than the previous levels. Here, the recommended approach is to stick with Standards
For example, some of FoF projects are investigating Middleware solutions to link data sources with applications. In this area, the use of standards (e.g. OPC UA) can allow developers to make their applications, tools and connectors supported by the standardised middleware.
To join this ongoing discussion and to help devise a viable strategy you can get in touch with using the contact details on this website.