Cascadas Project



Component-ware for Autonomic Situation-aware Communications, and Dynamically Adaptable Services

Project Summary


Today’s Internet is rapidly evolving towards a collection of highly distributed, pervasive, communication-intensive services. In the next future, such services will be expected to (i) autonomously detect and organize the knowledge necessary to understand the general context in which they operate, and (ii) self-adapt and self-configure to get the best from any situation in order to meet the needs of diverse users, in diverse situations, without explicit human intervention. These features will enable a wide range of new activities that are simply not possible or impractical now. However, achievement of such capabilities requires a deep re-thinking of the current way of developing and deploying distributed systems and applications. In this direction, a promising approach consists in conceiving services as part of an “open ecosystem” through which they can prosper and thrive at the service of users. This vision is attractive because it not only allows providing better services to end-users, but also meets the emerging economic urge for service provision and system management deriving by the higher level of dynamism and variability of communication systems. In this context, CASCADAS main goal is providing an autonomic component-based framework to support the deployment of a novel set of services through development of distributed applications capable of coping well with uncertain environments by dynamically adapting their plans as the environment changes in uncertain ways. CASCADAS vision is based on a set of complementary founding features that starts from state-of-the-art modern distributed computing and communication systems, for advancing towards autonomic and situation-aware communication services: context-awareness becomes situation-awareness; self-organization and self- adaptation converge into a concept of semantic self-organization; scalability assumes the form of self-similarity; modularity takes the form of a new autonomic component-ware paradigm that intrinsically features self-CHOP capabilities. CASCADAS is proving a robust and dynamic modular conceptual framework for building autonomic, self-organizing, semantic services, and act as high-level reference model for the production of a new generation of programmable communication elements that can be reused at different stack levels. Such component model, core of the framework, forms the fundamental software engineering abstraction of distributed self-similar components named Autonomic Communication Elements (ACEs).

Technical and Innovation Approach

ACEs are characterised by autonomic features such as self-awareness, semantic self-organisation and self-healing, and allow creating and executing dynamically adaptable situation-aware services. The ACE component model is conceived around the notion of organ. Name derives by human organs, which are capable of self- adapting to the conditions of the whole body. In a similar way, ACE’s organs are capable of adapting their own execution to the general conditions. ACEs’ behaviour is contained in its self model, initially created by the developer but capable of being modified autonomously by the ACE itself based on self-awareness information, formed, in turn, by one or more plans that characterize the behaviour and the services offered by the ACE. CASCADAS Framework is contained in an open source toolkit for situated autonomic communications, also briefly called the CASCADAS Toolkit or the Toolkit. Through the Java programming language used for development, the Toolkit provides a run- time environment capable of supporting ACEs in all their features, i.e. self- awareness, life-cycle management, interaction with other ACEs and integration of legacy code, while also incorporating, libraries for advanced mechanisms for pervasive supervision, ACE aggregation, management of social knowledge, and security. An underlying unified execution environment provides everything necessary to create, execute, and deploy ACEs.

Target users and benefits

Information Society development will increasingly depend on Future Internet, ICT and Telecommunications. However, today’s Internet is brittle and insecure, due in large part to the quality of the underlying software and services. Moreover, technological progress is fostering mass digitalization, pervasive use of ICT and Telecommunications services, emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) and even the active participation of people (Prosumption) in producing and consuming services over the web. CASCADAS is anticipating these trends proposing a vision where openness, broad federations of Players, do-it-yourself innovative services and knowledge management will allow real People to be the target Users. In this context, CASCADAS has identified the following main areas of benefits and industrial exploitation of results:
  • Introduction of innovative SAC “services” (and new business models);
  • Future Internet development;
  • Optimization of Telco-ICT Service Frameworks (Capex savings);
  • Simplification of Management (Opex savings) of above Frameworks.
As an example, CASCADAS Toolkit has been successfully used to build a fully working prototype system to suit the needs of a potentially industrial future use-case scenario named Behavioural Pervasive Advertisement. This scenario considers a crowded venue with a number of public screens, used to advertise the venue itself as well as commercial advertisements. In such venues, it is assumed the presence of infrastructures (i.e. wireless networks, RFID receptors, etc) that provide pervasive services (e.g. downloadable maps or events program for the venue, web navigation, etc.). Likewise, it is assumed that visitors are equipped with personal mobile devices (smartphones, laptops, PDAs, etc.) through which the above services might be accessed subject to registration or other means for storing publicly accessible information on user’s interests (e.g. fidelity cards or badges). As of today, advertising screens display information cyclically in a way independent of the context (i.e. independent of who is actually close to that screen). A smart service might exploit availability of the pervasive infrastructures, and the presence of pervasive devices, to gather publicly accessible information on users so as to adapt the contents to be shown on the basis of the peculiar interests of people detected. This would transform the advertising service with a set of desirable features in terms of effectiveness, as the exposition impact for the advertisement would be maximized, and business investment, as the level of guarantees provided on the effectiveness of the investment would be higher. In the presence of a large number of screens and parties interested in buying time slots on them, solutions for allocating time slots and generating added value for interested parties must be identified. From this point of view, auctions appear an excellent solution as they prioritize allocation to advertisers who value them the most. Therefore, CASCADAS platform employs an auction-based allocation paradigm whereby advertisers compete in a context-aware fashion in order to acquire the rights of advertising on a specific screen at a specific time.

Cascadas White Paper (final release)

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