Designing and delivering public services on the cloud


Published on

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Designing and delivering public services on the cloud

  1. 1. DESIGNING AND DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES ON THE CLOUDYehia Taher1, Rafiqul Haque2, Dinh Khoa Nguyen1, Willem-Jan van den Heuvel1, Ita Richardson2 1 European Research Institute in Service Science (ERISS) – Tilburg University, The Netherlands (Y.Taher, D.K.Nguyen, wjheuvel) 2 Irish Software Engineering Institute (Lero) – University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland {rafiqul.haque, ita.richardson}@lero.ieKeywords: E-Government, Public Services, Reusability, Customization, Cloud Computing, T-Shaped Platform.Abstract: Cost and complexity are currently the most substantial obstacles for designing and delivering services in the public sector. The traditional in-house development and maintenance landscape of public services require experts from diverse domains, various technologies and complex on-premise infrastructure, etc. The high upfront cost and complexity impede the proliferation of Information Technology (IT) within the domain of public sector. It is the aim of this research project to deliver a cloud based platform that allows non IT- experts to customize prefabricated and reusable public services by parameterizing them. This customization revolves around reference guidelines that accommodate a methodology in a consistent manner.1 INTRODUCTION The above considerations bring the widely known concept called reusability into the light of this research. Reusability enables to reuse existing Recently, IT has undergone vigorousdevelopment to facilitate organizations to develop elements that could fit into specific requirements. It is a promising concept for developing publicand deliver services in more efficient and effective services that do not require to be developed fromfashion. In this setting, public service organizationsare harnessing the power of IT and distributed scratch. This helps to diminish the development cost for public services. However, the only shortcomingtechnologies (e.g., Internet) to automate their desk- of reusable services is their fitness to specificbased human provided services and also to makeservices ubiquitous. The ubiquity ensures that public requirements because they are still generic (i.e., independent of any specific context). Hence, it isservices are accessible by the users (e.g., citizen) via highly unlikely that generic services can completelythe Internet. Despite enormous amelioration oftechnologies, public service organizations have satisfy the requirements of a specific context. This implies that reusable services requirefailed to exploit the full potentials of IT. Our customizations. In order to customize context-analysis reveals three salient reasons behind thisincluding economical, technological, and societal. In independent services to context specific ones, organizations require experts from various specificthis article, we focus on economical and contexts (e.g. service usage context, service runtimetechnological. To be precise, this research deals withtwo primary issues embodying cost and complexity environment, etc.) and technologies (e.g., WS-* standards, REST, etc.). In this setting, the reusabilityto design and deliver public services. concept turns out to be an effective means to reduce Traditionally, the in-house developmentlandscape includes a group of service development the service development cost partially but not completely. In addition, the licensing cost and theexperts from multiple domains (e.g., business, cost of infrastructure increase the upfront costtechnology), on-premise infrastructure, technicalspecialists, and experts for maintenance of heavily that is beyond the ability of many public service organizations to afford. Therefore, there is aapplications and infrastructure. Evidently, such a strong requirement for a solution approach that willlandscape augments cost and complexityenormously that is not affordable and manageable by serve as a means of developing public services in cost effective manner.a large number of public service organizations.
  2. 2. Figure 1: The traditional landscape of developing and delivering services. Complexity is another grand challenge for public includes guideline that will enable the public serviceservice organizations to exploit the potentialities of organizations to develop and deliver servicesIT. Large numbers of organizations today are without requiring experts. This implies, publicstriving to remove the excessive complexity from service organizations will be able to reduce thethe service development landscape. Many service development cost significantly since theyorganizations consume more time and effort on will be able to lower their budget on experts.maintaining their infrastructure instead of focusing Additionally, the pay-per-use economic model willon adding value on services. Complexity may help reducing the cost of infrastructure and licensingunderlie the entire infrastructure. The reason behind fees for technologies. In a word, the cloud based T-this complexity is merely the integration of various Shaped platform will lessen the overhead cost oftechnologies. It turns the service development designing and delivering public services.landscape into a space only for experts who posses This paper is organized as follows, a motivatingsound knowledge on development platforms. In scenario is presented in section 2 to illustrate theaddition, maintaining complex infrastructure is a cost and complexity underlie in today’s solutionnon-trivial task which requires a highly proficient architecture; section 3 describes the core concept ofteam of experts. These complexities preclude public our proposed cloud-based platform for publicservice organization to adopt IT for delivering service organizations; section 4 describes theservices to the end-users. methodology that facilitates the public service This paper aims at developing a cloud based customization using the T-Shaped platform. Weplatform that will bolster the public service explain the related literatures in section 5 and theorganizations to develop and deliver public services future extensions of this research in section efficient and (cost-) effective manner. We namedthe platform T-Shaped platform. The T-Shaped isgrounded on the concept of reusability, a 2 MOTIVATING SCENARIOmethodology for customizing reusable pro cesses,and most importantly the cloud computing We present a motivating scenario in this section.paradigm. This cloud based solution will facilitate Figure 1 shows the scenario. The scenariomigrating the excessive complexity that arises on demonstrates various development costs that exist inaccount of in-house service development traditional development landscape. It also reflectsinfrastructure. This will encourage much wider the complexities that are underlying the traditionaladoption of IT within public service domain, application development ecosystem.promote the development of innovative public Figure 1 demonstrates several areas of traditionalservices, and reduce the time to deliver services to in-house service development ecosystem, whichcustomer (e.g., citizen). The proposed platform
  3. 3. increases the cost massively. The red-dotted providing a virtual development platform for therectangles in figure 1 spot these areas. In the given public service administrators to streamline the publicscenario, a public service provider develops services service design, delivery and management processesthat run on in-house platform. This requires (at least) on the cloud.a team of developers lead by a specialist, analysts, In this section we describe the fundamentalsolution designer, and solution architect. Hiring concept of the T-Shaped platform. The T-Shapedthese experts increases the upfront development cost platform consists of two different views: Horizontalexponentially. Besides, the platform is integration of View and Vertical View. For service design, thevarious technologies that also raise the cost horizontal view of the T-Shaped platform proposesimmensely. The reason is merely the licensing cost that public service administrators can reduce theof enterprise editions of these technologies. transparent cost by exploiting a number of generic Additionally, the public service providers host Reusable Services in the public service domainthe services on on-premise infrastructure that causes together with a Reference Guideline for customizinga considerable escalation of the total cost. The these services. The connector of T-Shaped platforminfrastructure entails various equipments in connects a provider to a public service repositoryparticular, processing equipments (e.g., CPU, where providers can query and find reusablememory), storage equipments (e.g., database services. The T-Shaped platform embeds a referencestorage), and networking equipments (e.g., switch). guideline that underpins the customization ofIn addition, a group of technical specialists need to reusable services.assemble these equipments in an infrastructure. The Following the vertical view of the T-Shapedcosts of these resources (equipments and human) platform, the users may use the reference guidelineincreases the total cost heavily that is far-affordable to customize the generic public services as theyto many public service organizations. want. The reference guideline serves as the guiding Furthermore, in-house service developmentplatform can be enormously complex. The platforms principle for public administrators or servicetoday integrate several technologies that raise providers accommodating the customization ofcomplexity. The classic examples are Eclipse and generic services without the need of having intenseNetbeans platforms that are largely complex to knowledge on processes as well as its relatedinstall and operate for a non-expert user. Developing technologies. It contains a large set of parametersapplications or services using these platforms are far derived from diverse domains that are important tobeyond their ability. Figure 1 shows that a traditional the customization of public services. T-shapeddevelopment platform integrates different allows public administrators to use these parameterstechnologies including Silverlight, Intalio BPMS, to customize the process-based services. The keyand so on. These technologies make the platform idea of the reference guideline is to bolster stratifiedinfrastructure highly complex that is not easy to use customization which allows fine-tuning a contextfor users who are not adequately expert. Developing independent service to context specific one thatservices using this platform by a non-expert user is represents the unique interests or characteristics ofmerely impossible. In addition, there are no clear an organization. Figure 2 depicts the stratifiedguidelines that can ease the service development customization approach with an example.complexity. Now, the above issues foster one importantquestion: what is the most suitable approach thatoptimizes the total cost and reduces the complexityof developing and maintaining public services? Weinitiate this research to find answers of thesequestions.3 T-SHAPED PLATFORM AS A SERVICE: CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW Adopting the cloud paradigm, we offer the T- Figure 2: The stratified customization approach withShaped platform as a service for public service example.organization to design and deliver services in a cost- Stratified customization is an approach thateffective manner. The T-Shaped solution aims at promotes customization of context independent
  4. 4. services to context specific ones in a multiplicity of pricing models and agreements. That gives them the1 to n. possibility for considering the most economic way The meta-reference model in figure 2 is a of developing their public services.reusable process model that associates services In the next section, we describe the methodologycontaining the elements from global perspective that of our cloud-based T-shaped platform for publicis independent of usage and context. The services.customization produces the reference modelcontaining the elements and characteristics forspecific usage but not context and finally the 4 METHODOLOGYsolution model that is the concrete solution to aspecific context. The example in figure 2 The T-Shaped underlies a methodology fordemonstrates the customization process. We provide customizing reusable public services. We proposethe example linked with customization approach this methodology to facilitate stratifiedusing dotted lines. The meta-reference model is the customization of processes. The methodology ispermission process associating permission services. influenced by the research works from (Ma &The process is customized to permission process for Leymann, 2008), (Heuvel & Jeusfeld, 2007). Itresidence permit which is not yet a concrete includes three phases that are described in thesolution. The final customization produces the followings:concrete solution which is residence permit forTilburg Municipality. We discuss the methodology (i) Discoverfor customizing services in section 4. Developing services in-house may require much The public service provider finds the requiredwork in addition to the actual service logic services from the service market or service cloud.development. This work may include the The T-Shaped solution connects a provider with theprocurement, installation, configuration, and service cloud.operation of platforms, servers, storage, and To support finding and loading of services fromnetworks as well as the provision of database a public service cloud, the following primitives needservices and user-authentication mechanisms. to be supported:Providing these portions of the development process  Find: The provider finds the service from theas cloud platform services is expected not only to service cloud using this primitive.reduce the development costs but also to ease the  Load: This primitive is used to import a servicework load of the public administrations while in T-Shaped platform to customize to be used inimproving the service value they provide. Inspired specific this idea, our T-shaped solution will be delivered Figure 4 shows that a public service provider findto the public administrations as a virtual and load public services from the service cloud.development and hosting cloud platform service. Conventional on-premise service development inthe public service domain, as explained in section 1,is unacceptable due to high complexity anddevelopment cost. Moving to our virtual platformhelps to delegate all the complexity of thedevelopment lifecycle of public services to ourplatform. In particular, this enables publicadministrations to better concentrate their efforts onunderstanding the citizen requirements and Figure 4: Discovering public services from the cloudpreferences which - without any doubt – leads to service.more adaptive public services to the citizen ever-increasing dynamic needs. We believe that this (ii) (Re)-Designapproach helps much for creating public servicesthat continue to have a significant positive impact on After the service is loaded on T-Shaped platform, athe citizen’s life. Furthermore, public service provider analyzes the loaded service. Theadministrations, when using our T-shaped solution analysis fosters re-designing the service to satisfyplatform, may be charged based on the pay-per-use specific interests. Comparing with specificor subscription schemes with a variety of predefined requirements, the provider selects the list of activities that should be refined, pruned, and
  5. 5. aggregated. The service may need extra much expertise. Figure 6 shows an example offunctionality to be extended to satisfy the context parameterization of a service.specificity. To support public service providers, weintegrate the following primitives with the T-Shapedplatform: Refine: Refine allows refining an activity into sub- activities. For instance, prepare permission application is an activity may be refined to prepare document and fill application. Prune: An activity can be removed from the process using this primitive. Aggregate: Aggregation allows combining two or more activities into single activity. Extend: This primitive used to extend the required functionality. Additionally, activities can be renamed to fit into Figure 6: Parameterization of Public Services.a specific context. Renaming is labelling theactivities, actors, events of the generic process. Figure 5 shows how T-Shaped solution facilitates 5 RELATED WORKa service provider redesigning a generic processusing the operators. This research revolves around three key concepts cloud computing, reusability, and customization. In recent days, cloud based solution for developing applications is gaining enormous popularity with a high number of market-available platforms. (Heroku, 2010) was one of the first cloud platform providers, which delivers the whole lifecycle management solution for Ruby & Rails application over the Internet. Another prominent example in cloud-based development platform is the (, 2010) that allows designers to build their CRM applications faster and with lower cost using a very simplified programming model. Instead of providing a whole virtual development platform like, (Google App Engine,Figure 5: Redesigning a Generic Process using T-Shaped 2010) and (Microsoft-Windows Azure, 2010)Solution Operators. provide SDKs that support a simulated development and testing environment.(iii) Parameterize The existing cloud-based solutions available in the market may largely contribute to reducing theAfter the service is scoped to a specific interest upfront cost of acquiring in-house developmentthrough redesigning the underlying process, this platforms and the complexities that underlie thephase supports parameterization of the service. traditional service development ecosystem.Parameterization allows specifying the quality of However, these solutions are only provided asservices (QoS), policies, and security parameters. It generic, domain-independent solutions as theyalso allows specifying the values of parameters. mainly target a large number of clients. Yet in theThus, parameterization is highly critical to reach the public service domain, expert cost regardinggoal of service and also to ensure the user developing services is still a question since publicsatisfaction. service organizations may require a high number of In this regard, T-Shaped provides an ideal experts that have adequate domain knowledge. Oursolution, a reference guideline that delivers a large approach is certainly exceptional in this regard sinceset of parameters from diverse domains (e.g., it particularly focuses on the public service domain.regulatory policy) to support service provider to Furthermore, the concept of reusability of publicparameterize services. The providers will be able to service processes is heavily documented throughoutselect and specify the parameters without having various bodies of literature. (Ma & Leymann, 2008)
  6. 6. proposed a research that highlights fragmenting a of applications and IT infrastructures. This enablescomplex business process into shards that are public administrations to better concentrate theirintended to be flexible and reusable for future efforts on improving the value of the renderedbusiness process modelling. This research work is services by relying on the T-Shaped customizationenormously interesting especially the life-cycle facilities.model for business process modelling using reusable Our proposal reflects first attempt in defining afragments. However, the scope of the work does not foundation for designing and delivering publicsolve our problem entirely since we focus not only services on the cloud. As part of our ongoing andon facilitating reusability but also a robust guideline future work, we will conduct empirical/experimentalfor process customization, which add value on the study focusing on the security and privacy includingtop of reusable fragments. data confidentiality aspects of public services (Curran et al., 1997) initially proposed reusable delivered on the processes as an approach for large-scaleenterprises. Their work has been cited in an ACKNOWLEDGEMENTextensive number of research works, yet was The work leading to this result is sponsored by thecriticized by (Mendling et al., 2006) with EU FP7 as part of the COCKPIT project.counterarguments on SAP reference model. (Heuvel& Jeusfeld, 2007) proposed a framework withguidelines to transform a model with reference REFERENCESmodels in particular, the SAP reference model. Cabinet Office, (2005). eGovernment Unit: eGovernmentStrictly speaking, these researches are only Interoperability Framework. Retrieved from:conceptually related to our approach but different in of applications. In this paper, we narrow down Curran, T., Keller, G., and Ladd, A., (1997). SAP R/3our scope to public service reusability that has not Business Blueprint: Understanding the Businessbeen considered yet. The closest work related to Process Reference Model. Enterprise Resourcereusable public service has been proposed by Planning Series. Prentice Hall PTR,(Koussouris et al., 2008), in which the authors Google App Engine (2010). Retrieved frompresented a modelling view of generic processes. main contribution was to support the Public Heuvel, W-J.v.d, Jeusfeld, M., (2007): Model Transformations with Reference Models. IESA 2007:Administrations to achieve resolution of 63-75.organizational interoperability and systematically Heroku (2010). Retrieved from the Homogeneous Service Composition. Koussouris, S., Tsitsanis, A., Gionis, G. and Psarras, J, Fairly speaking, there is no solution approach (2008). Designing Generic Municipal Services Processavailable that entails the cross-domain parameters to Models towards eGovernment Interoperabilitysupport multi-modal customization. Infrastructures, eJETA 2008. Ma, Z., and Leymann, F., (2008). A Lifecycle Model for Using Process Fragment in Business Process6 CONCLUSION Modelling. Proc. of the BPMDS’08. Mendling, J. et al., (2006). Mendling, J., Moser, M., Neumann, G., Verbeek, H.M.W.,The lack of expertise, capital expenditures, and high Dongen, B.F.V., and Aalst, W.M.P.V.D. (2006):cost of experts are the predominant factors that Faulty EPCs in the SAP Reference Model, in Proc. ofseverely preclude wider adoption of eGovernance the BPM 2006, LNCS 4102, pp. 451–457, 2006.among public service organizations. Springer-Verlag. In the paper, we have presented a T-Shaped Microsft-WindowsAzure (2010). Retrieved fromcloud based solution which aims primarily at the costs and enhance the efficiency and (2009). Retrieved fromeffectiveness related to public service design and process. The T-Shaped is expected toinfluence the public administrations to embraceelectronic governance. The proposed solution isrendered as a cloud based platform focused toalleviate the involvement of public administrationswith many aspects ranging from consultation,design, implementation, operation, to maintenance