ResearchSelected PapersZoran's Thesis

Enterprise Aspects of Open Distributed Systems

Zoran Milosevic

The University of Queensland, 1995


This thesis explores new enterprise characteristics and requirements of emerging computing and telecommunications systems: the economic and business aspects of open distributed systems (ODSs).

We analyse the interplay of technological and commercial trends pertinent to ODSs and identify those enterprise factors which attract special attention from the end-user, management and technical communities involved. Relevant paradigms from economics and business are selected; it is then illustrated how they can be applied to related problems in ODSs.

Two specific concepts are investigated: i) the enterprise notion of Quality of Service (QoS) and ii) new types of uncertainty inherent in a large class of services in ODSs. The aim of the former is to develop a generic, user oriented and service independent methodology which will facilitate the description and measuring of QoS in ODSs. We present a methodology which is based on the use of a specific economic theory and relevant results from market research and psychology. The objective of the latter is to address possible economic inefficiency due to uncertainty which can arise from the properties inherent in ODSs: participating parties have different characteristics, objectives and requirements, they can belong to different geographical, organisational or other domains, and yet share computing and communication resources. We address this problem from both a theoretical and a practical angle. The theoretical enquiry emanates from economic agency theory, which can be used to design efficient contracts in the presence of uncertainty. The practical approach is based on business and legal ways of handling the uncertainty associated with the interactions of economic actors in the real world: namely, the use of contracts. We derive a business contract architecture, which can facilitate business dealings in ODSs. It is based on notions of contracts drawn from economic, legal and business perspectives.

Following these theoretical and architectural researches, we present a partial implementation of the business contract architecture to demonstrate the feasibility of our approach.