Form Follows Function

Perhaps the most famous quote from Frank Lloyd Wright, the master architect, was:

“Form Follows Function.”

The value of that philosophy is obvious when it comes to building homes and business structures, and it should be just as obvious when building information systems. In the OTTER Project, the intended function is to establish:

Ontology-driven Enterprise Architecture.

The OtterServer is the form that follows. The overall function of ontology-driven Enterprise Architecture can be subdivided into smaller, more specific functions. Those functions and their form in the OtterServer Structure are outlined in the following:

Function Form Follows
Blackbox components Ontologies
o   Ontology definition OWL
o   Consistency General reasoners
Layered knowledge OWL imports
o   Layer definitions Standard education & business categories
o   Layer dependency Standard crosswalks of education & business categories
o   Infrastructure layer Ontologies for standard architecture
Business processing
Service Component Architecture (SCA)
o   Standard connections SCA ontology sockets & plugs
o   Service access Class expression messages
o   Access security Socket access through IAM
o   Business process execution BPEL ontology
Information persistence & transformation Service Data Objects (SDO)
o   Information access OWL class expressions
o   Reference data persistence Ontology individuals
o   Master data persistence External storage
o   Transformation SDO update
Visualization Graphical presentation
o   Ontologies D3.js diagrams
o   SCA Graphviz graphs
Development / Change management Protégé editor

Some might read this list and think it’s incomplete, since it doesn’t include meeting a business need. That function would entail gathering requirements from stakeholders and the building or buying of a system appropriate to their needs. And viewed from the traditional approach to software engineering, this list is incomplete. However, this list is not about what is to be constructed, but rather, how it is to be constructed.

The ontology-driven approach is very different from the traditional when using a framework like the OtterServer. New construction doesn’t begin with a clean slate. It begins by understanding and utilizing the knowledge that has been captured by other professionals. When a common framework is used, all of the ontologies will work together.

The OtterServer supports the capture and reuse of knowledge in academic disciplines, business, and infrastructure. With that stored knowledge, anything new can be built upon proven ontologies. And having a common framework will result in a major leap in our ability to use software to handle greater and more complex systems. Once we have quality computing systems that rely upon our accumulated and proven knowledge, they will far exceed the capabilities of the localized and limited applications of today.

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