OMG Request For Information

Agent Technology in OMA

OMG Document # ec/99-03-10

Object Management Group
Framingham Corporate Center
492 Old Connecticut Path
Framingham, MA 01701-4568

Tel: +1-508-820 4300
Fax: +1-508-820 4303

Submissions Due: August 2, 1999


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Objectives of this RFI

This OMG Request For Information (RFI) solicits information on available agent technology and how to use it in CORBA-based applications.  This information will help guide the OMG in the adoption of specifications that will extend the OMG Object Management Architecture (OMA) with agent technology functionality. The scope of agent technologies is described below.  This RFI solicits relevant information in several areas: requirements, architectures, designs, projects, products, protocols, and standards (see Information Being Solicited below). The information provided will be used by the OMG to develop: *  Two points:

1.2 Who Should Respond

The OMG encourages users, consultants, systems integrators, and developers of agent tools, technologies, mechanisms, protocols, products, and services to become involved with this process by responding to this RFI. OMG members and non-members may submit to this RFI.  (Note: Only OMG member companies can respond to follow-on RFPs that may result from this RFI.)  Current compliance with OMG specifications is not a prerequisite for response to this RFI.  The RFI response can consist of pre-existing product documentation, but should also be organized and presented in accordance with this RFI.

The OMG Agent Working Group and the Domain Technical Committee will use responses to this RFI to plan and structure a series of RFPs soliciting OMG IDL interfaces, corresponding semantic descriptions and sequencing constraints, and other relevant potential OMG standards.

1.3 About OMG

The Object Management Group (OMG) is the world's largest software consortium with a membership of over 800 vendor, developer, and end user organizations. Established in 1989, the mission of the Object Management Group (OMG) is to enable rapid assembly of distributed reliable interoperable applications from standardized reusable component parts. To this end, OMG has established a distributed and object-based software architectural framework and is populating it with a collection of component specifications. The OMG adopts interface and protocol specifications, based on commercially available object technology, that together define the OMG Object Management Architecture (OMA) consisting of: OMG adopts specifications for interfaces and protocols by explicit vote on a technology-by-technology basis. The specifications selected each fill in a portion of the OMA Reference Model. OMG bases its decisions on both business and technical considerations. The OMG Technical Committees (Platform Technology Committee - PTC, Domain Technology Committee - DTC) provides technical guidance to the OMG in making decisions about specifications. The TCs are composed of representatives of all OMG member companies. The TCs are operated by a Vice President of Technology, working full-time for the OMG itself (as opposed to being an employee of a member company).

The TCs operate in a Request for Proposal mode, requesting technology to fill open portions of the Reference Model from international industry. The responses to such a proposal, taken within the specific RFP response period, are evaluated by a Task Force of a TC with the full TC then voting on a recommendation to the Board for approval of a specific addition to the set of OMA specifications. Once a specification is adopted by OMG, it is made available for use by both OMG members and non-members.

There is also an OMG fast track process. This process allows faster adoption of technology in the case where an existing OMG compliant specification exists and there is likely to be no competition. Should the RFI responses indicate that this is the case, use of the fast track process will be considered.

For more information on OMG, its technology adoption process, and and OMG Agent Working Group, see:

2.0 Scope

The goal of this RFI is to canvas the industry for technologies and required interfaces for exploiting agent technology in applications built using OMG technology.  The scope of this RFI includes but is not limited to the following areas:

3.0 Information Being Requested

This RFI is seeking information in the categories described below. Respondents are asked only to address those areas for which they have expertise and/or interest. Please consider the purpose of this RFI when responding so your time is spent on issues that will be helpful to reviewers. It will be especially useful if submissions are phrased to become additions or improvements to the  OMG Agent Technology Green Paper <>.  Respondents may consider areas not explicitly requested if they feel the information provides useful guidance.

3.1 Agent Definitions

Respondents are asked to define and/or qualify key terminology they use.  This might include the word "agent" which is used in many senses (e.g., information agent, agent system) or terms like ontology, grid, mobility, etc.  A Glossary will be part of the Agent Technology Green Paper.

3.2 Requirements, Issues, Risks

Respondents are asked to clearly identify:
3.2.1  user and technical requirements within the scope of this RFI
3.2.2  issues to take into account in adopting technology or scheduling that adoption
3.2.3  risks in adopting technology
3.2.4  areas in which there is a strong need today or projected in the near future
User community requirements and industry experience are very important in determining the urgency of technology adoption in specific areas.

3.3 Existing Relevant Standards

Responses are requested to identify relevant standards efforts associated with this RFI. These include de facto industry standards as well as de jure standards developed by recognized standards organizations. Where relevant, responses should identify: Identification of standards groups that would provide beneficial liaison with the OMG via the OMG Standards Liaison Subcommittee is one of objectives in this RFI including understanding how OMG can work with these as well as possible roadblocks and workarounds.

3.4 Architectural Framework

Responses are requested that identify extensions needed to extend OMG's Object Management Architecture to support a collection of complementary agent standards that is consistent with existing OMG CORBA, IIOP, CORBAservices and CORBAfacilities and at the same time provides the added benefits of agent technology.  It is possible for an architectural framework to consist of multiple levels of decomposition. The lowest level would ideally represent specific RFPs that could be issued for technology adoption first. It is also possible that the architecture will consist mainly of a collection of short descriptions of complementary agent tools and interfaces that complement other OMG standards. The architecture might address agent systems and platforms, agent system management, security, how agents make use of CORBA and CORBAservices, minimal to full-featured agent systems, system dependencies, and agent system interoperability.

3.5 Interfaces

Respondents are especially encouraged to identify specific candidate interface standards. This may include objects, groups of objects, or others forms of interface.

3.6 Modifications and Enhancements of Existing OMG specifications

Respondents are also  especially encouraged to identify existing OMG specifications that are useful for agent-based applications but that may need modifications and/or enhancements and to describe these needed changes.

3.7 Priorities and Roadmap

Responses are encouraged to recommend prioritization (e.g., near or far term, high or low) for adopting agent technology standards, especially useful will be suggestions for RFPs.

3.8 Existing and Planned Systems

Respondents are encouraged to identify where and how agent and object technology is currently being applied together in existing and planned systems and applications and where and how OMG technologies can play a role to improve interoperability or scaleability.

4.0 Instructions for Responding to this RFI

Respondents to this RFI shall designate a single contact for receipt of all subsequent information regarding this RFI. The name of this contact will be made available to all OMG members.  Documentation submitted in response to this RFI will be available to all OMG members.

4.1 Response due date

Responses to this RFI must be received at OMG no later than 5:00 pm US EST (21:00 GMT) August 2, 1999.  Early responses are encouraged.

4.2 Format of RFI Responses

The following outline is offered to assist in the development of your response. You should include: Although the OMG does not limit the size of responses, you are asked to consider that the OMG will rely upon volunteer resources with limited availability to review these responses. In order to assure that your response receives the attention it deserves, you are asked to consider limiting the size of your response (not counting any supporting documentation) to approximately 25 pages.

If you consider supporting documentation to be necessary, please indicate which portions of the supporting documentation are relevant to this RFI.

NOTE: According to the Policies and Procedures of the OMG Technical Process, proprietary and confidential material may not be included in any response to the OMG. Responses become public documents of the OMG. If the response is subject to copyright, it must include a waiver of that copyright to allow unlimited duplication by OMG staff and a limited waiver of that copyright to allow OMG members to make up to fifty (50) copies for OMG review purposes only.

4.3 How to Submit

OMG requests responses and any supporting documentation to be packaged in either of the following ways: Agent Technology Desk
Object Management Group Inc.
Framingham Corporate Center
492 Old Connecticut Path
Framingham, MA 01701-4568

The outside of packages/envelopes containing submissions or any other communication regarding this RFI should be clearly marked "OMG Agent RFI Response".

Other communication regarding this RFI in the future may be addressed to:

Phone: +1-508-820 4300
Fax:      +1-508-820 4303

Your organization should be prepared to handle requests for additional paper copies of your response and supporting documentation.

4.4 No Reimbursements

The OMG will not reimburse submitters for any costs in conjunction with their responses to this RFI.

5.0 Response Review Process and Schedule

Responses to this RFI are to be reviewed for the following express intention of providing OMG with technical information and guidance in writing the forthcoming series of RFPs.

5.1 Process

The OMG Agent Working Group will review responses under direction of the OMG Electronic Commerce Domain Task Force.  After evaluating the responses, the OMG Agent Working Group will construct a road map that outlines the RFPs to be issued for agent technology.

In contrast to this RFI, only OMG Contributing Members are eligible to respond to an RFP.  For further guidance on the RFP process, see the Policies and Procedures of the OMG Technical Process and the RFP template <> included in the Appendices of this document.  As a forewarning to organizations who intend to respond the forthcoming RFP(s) when they are issued, please note that responding to an RFP requires:

5.2 Clarification of Responses

To fully comprehend the information contained within a response to this RFI, the reviewing group may seek further clarification on that response. This clarification may be verbal, written, or electronic. We requests (but do not require) that submitters attend the meeting following the RFI deadline to present their responses.

5.3 Schedule

The schedule for responding to this RFI is as follows. Please note that early responses are encouraged. NOTE: This schedule is subject to change based on the number of RFI responses received and the information in the responses.

6.0 References

See <> -or- <>