OMG Agent Working Group

Agent Technology White Paper and RFP Roadmap

Draft .04
March 14, 2000

OMG document internet/00-03-08

a previous version of this document appears as Chapter 9 in the Agent Technology Green Paper

document editor:  Craig Thompson

Send your comments and contributions to the document editor.


Document Revision History

Executive Summary

The purpose of this white paper (in an early draft state) is to provide OMG with a rationale (policy, motivation) for a proposed series of Agent Technology RFPs.  The list of RFPs is culled from material covered in the Agent Technology Green Paper and discussed at OMG Agent Working Group meetings.  The rationale provides reasons to order RFPs the way we recommend below.

At the current time, we believe it is premature to immediately start issuing RFPs without first identifying and agreeing about the most promising candidates, fleshing out their descriptions, and understanding how they complement each other and also their relationship to the rest of OMG object technology.   When we do begin to issue RFPs (perhaps towards the end of 2000), we recognize that experience with initial RFPs may lead to later revision of this document including revising the list of RFPs or their ordering so we have not spent much time ordering later RFPs, rather providing criteria to select the initial core.

Candidate Agent Technology RFPs

All of these RFP candidate descriptions need more work.  Here they are only sketched at the level we talked about them during the Boston meeting.  Some additional work is needed to insure that
(a) this is the right list of RFPs and we are not missing something important
(b) the list takes into account other relevant OMG work and avoids duplication, and
(c) we are not duplicating work done on agent standards elsewhere (e.g., FIPA)

RFP Format

OMG RFPs follow a generic RFP template.  Most of an RFP is boilerplate indicating how to respond.  Section 6 Specific Requirements on Proposals generally specializes the RFP to a particular subject.  Subsections of Section 6 are listed below.  This is the template we'd need to complete for each RFP: For reference, here is a list of OMG Technology Adoptions.  These are responses to RFPs.

Initial Cut at Higher Priority RFP Candidates

Agent identity

Message transport

Agent Discovery and Matchmaking

Agent Communication Language


Content Language

Agent security ("Trust")

Agent/object mobility (triaged - consider requirements sooner so as not to preclude but RFP later)

UML profile for agents & ACL & agent platforms

Other possible RFP areas that are out of scope for the near term

Listed below are a number of potentially valid RFP topics some of which are candidates for higher priority but doing the work to refine them into RFPs awaits champions for each.  If someone is interested, please come to OMG Agent WG meetings and participate or send descriptions to the document editor.

Criteria for Sequencing RFPs

There is more material here than can be considered in one RFP so the RFPs must be sequenced according to some adoption roadmap.

The center of interest in the Agent Working Group is in multi agent systems that are used in application development in  robust ways in distributed environments that operate in LANS, WANs and over the web.  For the present, we are less focused on:  individual agents, desktop agents, collaborative filtering, and agent-user interfaces.

Criteria that can affect the ordering of RFPs are as follows:

Another kind of criteria involves market driven need.  Which of the RFPs are most needed to create new markets in the electronic commerce, manufacturing, telecom, and other domains?

Perhaps the most important criterion will be which of the RFPs are industry technology providers most interested in working on first?

Initial Roadmap

We recommend that the first two bundles of RFPs be: The first bundle is in several ways orthogonal to the second, at least insofar as different ACLs could be accommodated by the same Agent Interoperability services.  Also, within these bundles, the services should be separately specified as they are separable but they must work closely together so they are included in the same bundle.  We currently seem to be on the vector to work on the first bundle first and then the second but we can decide about overlap at upcoming meetings.

Next on the list should be Agent Security RFP when we decide what aspects of security are special to agents and go beyond object security.

Other RFPs will be considered at a later date:  these will likely include some from the deferred list - mobility, teams, information management framework, etc.

IDL (if any) and UML extensions needed by agents will be requested as part of every agent RFP.


The timetable is not yet set.  We first need to work on fleshing out the RFP descriptions above.  When those are more stable, we can agre to issue RFPs.  This will likely happen at OMG Orlando in December 2000 or thereafter.  It depends considerably on how much help we get writing RFPs and whether industry groups clamor to respond to them.

Issues with current document