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STASIS - Software for Ambient Semantic Interoperable Services

About STASIS

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STASIS Overview

  • Full Title: SofTware for Ambient Semantic Interoperable Services
  • Key Words: Semantics, Interoperability, e-Business, B2B, Information exchange, Mapping, Electronic trading
  • Duration: September 2006 - August 2009

The Story

A company wishes to trade electronically with other companies or public administrations. They would like to exchange different types of information ranging from orders to company returns.

Today, the greatest barrier to this wish is not the cost of hardware, software or communications. Rather, it is the "interoperability" barrier – i.e. the difficulty in providing information to potential trading partners in a format their systems can understand.

Companies do not have time to learn the technical specifications of XML, EDI or IDOCs. However, they do know the user concepts (semantics) of their information. They want something that allows information transformation, but based on their knowledge only, and for it to be easy and inexpensive to do without the reliance on technicians or consultants.

Welcome to STASIS!

Before STASIS

Today, information is typically mapped manually using syntax. Whilst this approach has been very successful - especially when the information to be mapped is not too complex - there are several clear disadvantages:

  • An in-depth knowledge of both the source and destination schemas is required New schemas need to be studied in detail before creating mappings – this is a very expensive step that cannot be avoided
  • Mappings are often tricky to understand and error-prone as humans normally think in terms of the actual semantics instead of the syntax
  • Mappings typically cannot be reused
  • The mappings must be performed by a technician with schema knowledge whereas what is wanted is the mapping of information by business people
  • Messages can not be automatically translated due to a lack of semantic understanding and mismatches

With STASIS

STASIS aims to address many of the aforementioned problems by allowing anyone to create mappings based upon semantics – without realising they are using semantics!

Instead of focussing on syntax, STASIS concentrates identifying semantic assets and mapping those instead. For example, two concepts <Street> and <Country> may be grouped into one logical semantic entity called "Address" which is mapped to a well defined concept of an address.

The mapping process is based on ontologies used to define and link these semantic assets. The link to the original syntax is still made, but this is completely transparent to the user!

The software allows anyone to easily identify their semantic assets, and then semi-automatically map them to those of business partners. This approach allows people to create mappings in a more natural way by considering the meaning of concepts, rather than their syntactical structure. All semantic assets and mappings created in STASIS are managed in a distributed peer-to-peer repository. This gives STASIS another advantage over traditional mapping creation tools – i.e. semantic assets and mappings can be shared and reused. In fact, the software is intelligent enough to make mapping suggestions by analysing and reusing existing mappings.

For example, imagine that Company A and Company B would like to map their business schemas in order to exchange information. Let's assume that both have previously traded with Company C. In this situation, STASIS can map the semantic concepts of Company A to Company B automatically, as it already knows about their mapping to a common schema from Company C. This will become increasingly beneficial as more companies begin to use STASIS.

Target Users and Pilots

STASIS is aimed at users from small companies to corporates.

The project will be trialled in Europe and China in the furniture and automotive sectors. These sectors represent ideal test beds for STASIS as they are both characterised by a wide range of incompatible infrastructures and data formats which inhibit the development of trading partnerships and products.

Although being trialled in these two sectors, STASIS is fully generic and the software has been designed to be applicable in a wide range of business contexts.