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13.4. SEMANTIC MEDIATION
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The role of mediation in supporting an SOA has already been noted. Mediation is generally achieved through the use of mediators, that is components which enable heterogeneous systems to interact. In a practical sense, mediators have generally been realised as pieces of program code that perform point-to-point, low-level translations. Although such mediators satisfy the short-term goal in that they allow two systems to talk to each other, they suffer from maintainability and scalability problems. In general, it is not likely to be feasible to automate their application in a dynamic environment because of their close coupling with the implementation. Semantic Mediation enables a more dynamic approach through the use of ontologies, which provide consensual and formal conceptualisation of
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STANDARDS AND ONTOLOGIES IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
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a given domain. Mediators can be used to convert from a source implementation interface to that of a target implementation. Modelling the processes and data in the source and target interfaces using ontologies, enables the de nition of relationships between semantically equivalent concepts. The mediator can use these relationships to dynamically map between the source and target . Mediation can be classi ed as acting on both data and process. The following two sections describe this in more detail.
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13.4.1. Data Mediation
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Data mediation is required when the semantic content of a piece of data or message provided by one system and required by another is the same, but their syntactic representations are different. This may be due to differing naming or formatting conventions employed by the partner systems. In order to overcome these mismatches, a mapping tool can be applied at design time. These can be used to map source elements to target elements, often on a one-to-one basis. Where more complex mappings are required such as many-to-one mappings or mappings that are dependent upon content, a rule language may be necessary to describe them. Once a data mediator has been developed its functionality should be described (e.g. the source and target that it mediates between) so that interested parties (be they humans or computers) can inspect it and use if necessary.
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13.4.2. Process Mediation
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Process mediation is required when the semantic content of a process is shared by two parties but the messages or message exchange patterns of the parties required to achieve that process differ. The process mediator must ensure that the message exchange required by each party is adhered to. As a result the mediator may need to, for example, create new messages that appear to come from the source party and send these to the target. The content of such created messages would have been obtained from the source by the mediator either by explicitly asking for it or by retaining it until required by the target.
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13.5. STANDARDS AND ONTOLOGIES IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
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The Telecommunications Industry is seeking ways to encourage interoperability among the many systems required to run and manage a
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telecommunications network. One such approach is the New Generation Operations Systems and Software (NGOSS) initiative from the TeleManagement Forum (TeleManagement Forum, 2005a). NGOSS is an integrated framework of industry agreed speci cations and guidelines which include a shared information and data model for systems analysis and design, and a process framework for business process analysis. NGOSS is intended to allow easier integration of the Operational Support Systems (OSS) software used to provision, bill and manage network-based products and services. Part of the work of NGOSS is to produce standards for Next Generation Networks (NGNs). Currently telecommunications companies have many different networks for different services (e.g. PSTN, Leased Line) that require managing and maintaining individually. This requires hundreds or even thousands of different bespoke system for each network to enable billing, maintenance, trouble reporting etc. Telco s are moving towards a consolidated IP-based core to their networks, where many network services can be provided over one core network. This should lead to substantial cost savings and greatly improve exibility and ef ciency in providing network services. NGOSS has identi ed that the use of SOA will be important in managing the NGNs as the bene ts offered by SOAs t well into the dynamic and highly exible architecture that NGNs offer. The critical features of an SOA are captured in the NGOSS principles:  Shared Information Data Model: NGOSS components implement and use a de ned part of the Shared Information/Data Model (SID) (Telemanagement Forum, 2005b).  Common Communications Vehicle: Reliable distributed communications infrastructure, for example software bus integrating NGOSS components and work ow.  External Process Control: Separation of End-to-End Business Process Work ow from NGOSS Component functionality.  Business Aware NGOSS Components: Component services/functionality are de ned by NGOSS Contracts. The work of the TeleManagement Forum in developing a framework for Next Generation OSS can be seen as ontology building in that NGOSS provides a level of shared understanding for a particular domain of interest. NGOSS (TeleManagement Forum, 2005a) is available as a toolkit of industry-agreed speci cations and guidelines that cover key business and technical areas including Business Process Automation and Systems Analysis and Design. The former is delivered in the enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOMTM) (TeleManagement Forum, 2005c) and the latter is delivered in the SID. The eTOM provides a framework that allows processes to be assigned to it. It describes all the enterprise
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