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Introducing myself - SOA organised with RDF

From: Frank Carvalho <dko4342@vip.cybercity.dk>
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 13:28:19 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <12133440.post@talk.nabble.com>
To: semantic-web@w3.org

Hello

My name is Frank Carvalho, and this is my first post to this forum. 

I join the forum to be able to discuss the use of semantic web technologies
in my organisation with other people, since there seems to be very few
people actually involved with this around here. 

I am a computer scientist, and am employed by the danish government in the
Central Customs and Tax Administration. We are reengineering our numerous
systems to work in a SOA architecture - a considerable task that will take
years and years, as we have several hundred systems, maintained by a number
of suppliers and developed layer upon layer during the past 37 years. 

Needless to say that this legacy has turned into a maintenance nightmare of
point-to-point wiring of heterogenous systems. So something had to me done,
and the government decided to implement a SOA architecture, and reengineer
the systems to connect through a service bus, using webservices, etc. etc.. 

It was clear to me from the beginning that a SOA soon will turn into another
tower of babel, unless there's a clear strategy to normalize the contents
flowing on the service bus, and to address the issues of versioning and
development in knowledge.

Therefore I started a parallel activity to organise new in-house development
projects and the information they produce, so that a canonical ontology
could be developed for the service bus. I found that RDF and to some extent
OWL seemed the most promising technologies to back this effort up, for a
number of reasons. First of all I found its simple and powerful structure an
ideal model to describe the numerous modelling techniques we use - UML,
BPMN, Rules, WSDL and XSD generation - in a uniform manner, so that
information may be combined across the different techniques. 

Second we are facing a challenge of controlling our suppliers, rather than
being controlled by them. This requires knowledge about the solutions. RDF
also seems to be an ideal model for describing the suppliers source code and
documentation, and combining it with our ontologies. The combination will
enable us to construct impact analysis that will show how changes to our
models and ontologies will have an impact on the actual systems and source
code. This is the idea at least.

So far we have built an information base that has something like 50000
objects defined, or something of that size, combining modelling from six
actual projects into one large information base of RDF/XML. To handle an
information base of this size, and to enable the information for the
organization, I decided to go along with the open source XML database eXist.
(If anybody has any practical experience of combining eXist with RDF, I
would be interested to know).

With eXist I have built XQueries to list information of specific interest,
and others to enable browsing through the RDF graph. I have also built an
XQL-query to make forward chaining of the graph. Performance seems to be an
issue. If anybody knows how to tune XQuery and eXist, I would be grateful. 

I have tried to use CWM, but it seems to crash when I use large graphs. I
have also made a simple gawk-script that can actually both make
forward-chaining and backward-chaining very efficiently.

But to cut the story short, I have a lot of activity going with RDF, but I
am very alone here in my organization, so I hope to make new friends here
with whom I can share experience.

Frank Carvalho
Central Customs and Tax Administration
Denmark
e-mail (work): frank.carvalho@skat.dk
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