Liaison Proposal

OMG - FIPA Liaison

OMG Document # liaison/93-03-03 (same as ec/99-03-12) *

send comments to

To be filled in for each organization which is a candidate for a formal Liaison Statement to be generated by the Liaison Subcommittee and ratified by the OMG TC and BOD.

* need to replace references in document to old FIPA drogo web site with new

Organization Contact Information


Name:  Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents (FIPA)

Central Office:

FIPA Secretariat
c/o S.I.A. - C.P. 3176
Strada Antica di Collegno, 253
I-10146 Torino (Italy)
Tel.: +39 011 7720 294
Fax: +39 011 725 679
Web site

Primary Contact within the Organization

Chair or secretariat: Leonardo Chiariglione (CSELT)

Liaison Champion within OMG

OMG Member:   "Francis G. McCabe" <

Liaison Information

Concise statement of the proposed relationship between the organization and the OMG.

Purpose of the liaison

The reason to create the OMG-FIPA Liaison Agreement is to encourage agent technology standards to evolve consistent with object technology standards and to further coordination between OMG and FIPA's related work toward agent technology standards.

1a What does the organization do?

The purpose of FIPA is to promote the development of specifications of generic agent technologies that maximize interoperability within and across agent-based applications.

A dated snapshot of the FIPA agent reference architecture is at  FIPA has developed a collection of standards related to this architecture.

At its January 1999 meeting in Korea, FIPA created an Architecture Technical Committee (chaired by Francis McCabe) to develop an agent reference architecture to guide FIPA in the development of future agent technology standards.  The architecture will be abstract, possibly using UML for more precise specifications, and will likely support mapping from UML to instantiations (e.g., Java, XML, IDL).

It is worth noting that in the same time frame, OMG's Agent Working Group (which reports to Internet Platform SIG and Electronic Commerce Domain Task Force) has developed an Agent RFI and is developing an Agent Green Paper (architecture paper) to guide OMG in the development of an agent technology roadmap for future agent standards.  Shared membership between OMG and FIPA and this fortuitous timing makes it possible for OMG and FIPA specifications to become well aligned.

1b To what OMG processes is the organization's work related and why?

Both OMG and FIPA are non-profit organizations whose members develop reference architectures and then define specifications (not implementations) for the main interfaces in the reference architecture.  FIPA normative specifications primarily address domain generic platform agent interfaces.  FIPA uses informative domain specific scenarios in a formal way to validate their platform interfaces and supply information to potential users of their specifications.

 2a What is the benefit to OMG of liaison with the organization?

OMG does not currently have an agent reference architecture nor an established body of work in the agent area.  Agents are likely to become more important in systems development in the coming years.  Standardized means of treating agents and agent systems will be desirable to OMG.  Because it is likely that agent technology and object technology specifications will eventually overlap (e.g., both need namespaces, have lifecycle services, use persistence, address mobility, etc.) then it is desirable that the two families of specifications not conflict needlessly.

FIPA's new agent reference architecture will develop well-defined abstract architectures and map these to concrete instantiations.  OMG specifications may provide a good basis for these instantiations, providing services such as naming, object transport and messaging. In addition, there may be agent specific services that OMG must support. It is important to co-ordinate these efforts in order to ensure that there is a good synergy between the two specification efforts.

2b What is the benefit to the organization of liaison with OMG?

FIPA has adopted UML and IIOP as required standards.  However, on the whole, FIPA standards are more abstract than OMG standards.  OMG standards will for the most part be used to inform FIPA's standardization process.

3a How should the organization act as a requirements source for OMG?

FIPA collects agent technology requirements.  One FIPA document on these is at  FIPA's informative domain specifications provide scenarios of use to inform application developers how to use FIPA normative specifications.  In addition, the FIPA architectural specification process should create requirements for the OMG agent working group.

3b How should OMG act as a requirements source for the organization?

OMG plans to issue an Agent Technology RFI in 1999 requesting information on agent technology and then to issue one or more Agent Technology RFPs that result in agent specifications.  FIPA is invited to respond and help organize the responses into an Agent Technology Green Paper that can be viewed as a natural extension or elaboration of the OMG Object Management Architecture and that is complementary to FIPA's Agent Reference Architecture effort.

Since OMG also has an existing set of specifications that may provide support to implementations of FIPA compliant agent systems, it should inform the FIPA architecture process with a pragmatic understanding of available distributed object oriented architectures, services, facilities, and interchange formats.

4 How and when should OMG adopted specifications be introduced into the organization?

FIPA recognizes that CORBA is an important platform for the development of agent systems.  In addition, FIPA recognizes that there are many CORBAservices - such as message transport and event notification services - and other OMG standards - such as UML - which are important for its requirements.  FIPA intends to make its standards compatible where possible with these services and standards.  Where necessary, FIPA intends to use OMG revision processes to communicate any extension or changes to OMG standards.

5, 6, and 7 concern divergence from OMG specifications:

5 How should OMG best minimize divergence from OMG specifications arising during the organization's adoption process?

Acting now to establish a strong and active liaison will help converge OMG and FIPA specifications.  It is in both organization's interests to coordinate since both are concerned with interoperability and an OMG-only or FIPA-only solution will not serve this end.  Working together on a common abstract agent architecture is one way to minimize divergence.  OMG racing ahead with individual agent specifications in the absence of an agent architecture might not best serve OMG or FIPA in the long run.

6 How should OMG handle divergence from OMG specifications in the organization's newly-adopted product?

FIPA does not create products other than specifications and any divergent proposals for FIPA specifications would be handled via a strong active liaison.

7 What role should OMG play in the organization's amendment and interpretation processes after OMG specifications have been adopted by the organization?

Any questions of interpretation of OMG specifications would be referred to the OMG Agent Working Group via the established liaison.

8 Who will provide conformance testing?

FIPA currently has no conformance testing model. The newly formed Architecture TC in FIPA does have as part of its charter conformance and compatibility testing.