Knowledge Management in Cloud Environments

Dirk Langenberg
Pumacy Technologies AG Bartningallee 27 Berlin, Germany +49 30 2216128-0

Christian Kind
Pumacy Technologies AG Bartningallee 27 Berlin, Germany +49 30 2216128-0

Martin Dames
Pumacy Technologies AG Bartningallee 27 Berlin, Germany +49 30 2216128-0

Communication and sharing of knowledge are important challenges for virtual organizations (VO) in the globalized economy. There are various tools available to virtually reduce geographical distances and to support collaboration. Also for the management of knowledge appropriate solutions are available. But VOs typically have limited time to setup the entire ITinfrastructure for their collaboration. Therefore the trend to buy ready-to-use products exists. This paper characterizes requests of VOs for SaaS products, proposes functionalities to support team work and describes challenges with their solutions in the cloud.

Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.3.5 [Information Storage and Retrieval]: On-line Information Services – Commercial services, Data sharing, Web-based services C.2.4 [Distributed Systems]: Distributed applications – Cloud Computing

Today, various collaboration platforms are established for VOs [5], which provide file management typically. For knowledgeintensive works this is not enough. In VOs the members require more capabilities to collect, manage and provide knowledge for its reuse in the joint projects [14]. Sharing of experiences in VOs is mostly done by direct communication without any KM system. Preferred solutions to exchange files are project servers. However, even here are some remaining challenges: Firstly, project servers have to be accessible by all project members via the Internet. In many companies security policies hinder operation of such services. Secondly, project servers require hardware and software investments, administration and support. Often these costs cannot be specified for each project partner. Thirdly, the whereabouts of data and the possible access by end of project must be regulated. Additionally, VOs have limited time to setup and to operate an adequate infrastructure. Therefore a ready-to-use solution of a specialized provider is required, which can be bought and used instantly. The announcements of the arising cloud computing providers sound promising. This paper proposes a solution for a collaborative KM platform based on the new cloud technologies.

General Terms

Collaborative KM software has to meet several challenges to support VOs [8]. At first, communication between project members has to be facilitated to overcome geographical and cultural distances. After that, simplified and effective sharing of knowledge has to be enabled. Last but not least, management of the collaboration environment has to be simplified. Figure 1 shows the main functionalities to support VOs.

knowledge management, virtual organizations, cloud computing, software as a service.

In industry, virtual organizations (VO) are a common strategy to organize the development, production and maintenance of products. Most companies concentrate on their core competences and draw additional services from subcontractors. VOs are temporary consortiums of companies that work together with a common goal [2]. Therefore cross company collaborations are inevitable [11], but knowledge management (KM) stops at organizational borders, today. It is almost impossible to achieve sharing of knowledge between various parties in these VOs. Reasons for this are geographic distances, affiliation to different organizations and often the resulting formal flow of information. Also security policies hinder direct access to knowledge.

Figure 1. Functionalities for support of VOs [8]

users purchase IT-infrastructure for a freely defined time period. It can be used worldwide by all project partners. Based on the demand-oriented settlement. involve more people in the creation process and ensure a higher quality level of documented knowledge. Just a few years ago. “traditional” communication tools like email are still required. This is neither limited to specific companies nor with respect to time. any company can create its IT-environment. we see at first current Web 2. the availability is much higher than most companies would typically achieve hosting the system locally. They might enforce reviews for knowledge articles before publication. With such KM service all involved disciplines share their knowledge throughout the entire product lifecycle process. If the service is no longer needed. So they have to be implemented adequate to the behavior in the VO. tools for surveys and voting assist to form opinions. The usage of a common KM service by all partners simplifies capturing and retrieving of knowledge. Then the entire group can focus their efforts on the joint project. Lessons Learned. outsourcing of applications with confidential information was not made because of security reasons. Of course. the costs are borne by the partners. a neutral service provider can often make arrangements easier. For example. To improve the management of VOs. However. which are set by authors. However. for example semistructured wikis or management systems for structured knowledge articles. because they store important contributions to the intellectual property of companies. KNOWLEDGECLOUD 5. multi-institutional virtual organizations.” [3] Grid solutions are mainly used to provide computing power and storage capacity for calculation and simulation tasks [7] [15]. the data is deleted. all members of a project and respectively of a VO are interested in the project specific topics – and not in running an information technology infrastructure. the challenges here lie more in the legal situation regarding intellectual property rights to be respected. 3. which is currently developed in the research project KnowledgeCloud [13]. FAQs. With these new solutions. Yellow Pages and ideas are typical knowledge articles. there are other ways to assist interaction between VO members with further collaboration functionalities. or meta information like creation time express correlations about the background of an article. They can buy required IT functionalities including setup. One advantage is that anyone can use the service without disciplinespecific knowhow. when requirements and their effects on the product are defined. they rent virtualized Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Of course. Cloud computing shares the same vision [4]. The KM service KMcloud by Pumacy Technologies is such a SaaS solution for collaboration-oriented KM. technical barriers have to be solved. The knowledge base can be extended by new articles comfortably and work processes of each project team member can be assisted by deploying existing knowledge. Beginning in the early stages. tags. 4. In cloud environments. Typically. At the same time. Regarding faith in secure access to data during and after the project. blogs and RSS). which FOSTER defined as: “Grid Computing is concerned with coordinated resource sharing and problem solving in dynamic. COLLABORATIVE KM AS A SERVICE The proposed solution is to provide a project-based KM and collaboration service in the Cloud. It is a further development of grid computing. Therefore a ready-to-use solution of a specialized provider is required.When we take a look at the communication aspects. Project partners have to trust in the service provider in equal measure. A comfortable search function has to make this knowledge reusable for other people. Independent of the chosen approach. Figure 2. structuring and provision of knowledge. The demand to outsource IT-solutions forces the realization of cloud-based services. CLOUD COMPUTING AS SOLUTION Currently arising cloud computing technologies are a new form of virtualization in computing platforms. There are different approaches for KM. cross links between all knowledge items are important. Thereby VOs can establish an own KM environment for the duration of cooperation without having to invest into and maintain an own technical infrastructure. project partners will participate fairly in the costs. These tools reduce the distance between the partners virtually and enable more discussions. Especially the current trend to provide SaaS on a pay-per-use basis is interesting for VOs. workflows formalize the KM process.0 communication technologies (Twitter. KMcloud is a solution with a new architecture based on cloud technologies (Figure 2) and on the platform KMmaster® [12]. One approach for more interaction inside of VOs in the context of collaborative KM is to deploy workflows. there are various implicit links: Categories. common calendars and task management support the planning. Usage of a common platform avoids media breaks and ensures the location and system-independent information delivery. Platform (hardware and basic software) as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS). software has to support collection. operation and maintenance (backups and security patches).1 Description of the KM-Service KMcloud As shown above the current trend providing SaaS is interesting for VOs and medium sized companies. KM as a service on basis of Cloud technologies [8] . As long as the data is provided. Regarding KM. But security requirements remain. operation and maintenance. Especially the internet-based VOs ask for integration of these tools into their collaboration environment. 5. until the usage and disposal phase. setup. There are explicit links to describe connections between knowledge items. the product and process knowledge is documented in the cloud. On the other side. They can buy the required IT-solution including (virtualized) hardware. For example. KM systems were installed only in the company.

As cloud databases are not optimized for this type of usage. EJBs and JSPs are running in the context of an application server. KMcloud uses such cloud storage directly as data vault for big data sets (e.3. attached files) and as a backup service for all user and system data. Every customer has its own community and does not see any data of other communities.1 Overview Basis of every KMcloud instance is a typical J2EE application with four layers. KMcloud cannot use solutions of the cloud providers for scalability and load balancing. Due to this.g.In KnowledgeCloud concepts for scalable integration of external IT resources (computing. But we expect that many concurrent requests will show a better relative performance. Therefore it is important for the success of a SaaS provider to fulfill the demand for adequate security. The business logic is implemented in Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) and the creation of web pages is realized in Java Servlet Pages (JSP). On client side. when higher load is expected nodes are added (e. etc.2 Data Security Security of their data and documents is perhaps the most important requirement of users in the cloud [9].g. On server side. users access the application with an Internet web browser. Both. the focus of a SaaS provider regarding data security and safety is on the application itself. Manual node management: A node is added (or removed) "by hand" to the system. To have a high availability system it must be possible that if one cluster node crashes another node is able to serve client requests immediately. all data of a customer has to be deleted from the KMcloud database. Figure 3. the user session has to be distributed all the time over the whole cluster like it is shown in Figure 4. A community concept ensures confidentiality of data. After the contract ends. storage. for backups a second provider should be used. in the morning) or removed (e. Unfortunately they are not compliant with the SQL standard so it is not possible to use them with existing applications.3. There are different possibilities. These databases are extremely fast. customers use their own KM service and do not share any resources with any other client. And there are still several challenges [6. Instead it has to realize this on its own by clustering application servers which could run on many instances in parallel. KMcloud uses the Hibernate framework which understands many different SQL Dialects but no cloud database dialects. . Database Architecture 5. 5. Regular backups in defined periods and processes achieve safety of the service against data loss.2 Database in the Cloud Some cloud providers offer simple NoSQL databases [10].g. 5.g. Therefore. Figure 4. System Architecture & Communication Paths Now it is possible to add more computing resources with just adding a new cluster node to the system. The next chapters present solutions for the most relevant challenges in the cloud environment. backups) strong encryption methods have to be used. On the other hand money can be saved by turning off unused nodes. For this.3. the service provider can only configure the basis software in a secure way and install updates regularly. b. For all data outside of the KMcloud service (e. KMcloud uses a SQL server at the moment. This approach is suitable if the system load is nearly constant or easy predictable.16]. Optional private cloud solutions increase security against access by third parties.3 Architecture and Availability 5. The development is based on the described functionalities (chapter 2) and the requirements of the application scenario above (chapter 4). DBs.) from a cloud are in the foreground. at weekends) from the cluster. Here. • • • 5. which requires a specific application server. there are limited possibilities for KMcloud to enforce data security. Therefore a JDBC driver is currently developed in KnowledgeCloud to create an interface between Hibernate and a NoSQL cloud database (see Figure 3). It can be summarized in the following activities and concepts: • • • Encrypted connections prevent the interception of data. there is on the lowest layer a database.3 File Storage in the Cloud Another service used for KMcloud is a file based cloud storage. each with their own advantages and disadvantages: a.4 Availability KMcloud is based on the existing KMmaster® platform.3. which is the container of the entire application. because even in the improbable case something could fail. As a consequence. Here. first results show that single database requests are much slower than in a relational database. Such storage is optimized for scalability and safety against data loss. Of course. Semi-automatic node management: At fixed points in time. scalable and cheap even with huge datasets. This has many disadvantages like lower scalability. Regarding infrastructure and operating system. This ensures confidentiality and integrity of data. 5.

KMcloud provides functionalities to collect. managed and provided for the use by the whole project team. To enhance the availability of the system further. Y. CIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology 3.. 2011. www. M. 7-8. 3. 2010. Potenziale der Grid-Technologie in der Produktentwicklung. The service core supports multi-tenancy. I. nodes for fallbacks can be started in additional locations of other IaaS providers. C. H. Can Public-Cloud Security Meet Its Unique Challenges? IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine 8. 2011. R. The necessary knowledge is structured. Website about KMmaster. Each node receives its requests from a load balancer. and Langenberg. 9... In Proceedings of 14th International Conference on Concurrent Enterprising (ICE). Löh. 2009.kmcloud. S. Is Cloud Computing Really Ready for Prime Time? Computer 42. New potentials for virtual product creation by utilizing grid technology. 2. [8] 5. Elmaraghy. ZWF Zeitschrift für wirtschaftlichen Fabrikbetrieb 99. [12] Pumacy Technologies AG.-L. Because a load balancer for a few nodes is fairly easy to setup there is no need to use a billed service for that. 24-31. 6.. The service core scales flexible. Application nodes and data storage are allocated dynamically based on the requests. 2010. N. et al. In IEEE Grid Computing Environments Workshop 2008. Kooperationsplattformen für virtuelle Unternehmen. [7] Krause. O. 2009. H. 2004. D. S. Competing in engineering design -The role of Virtual Product Creation. and Stark. a pilot environment with basic functionalities is developed. IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine 8. A. It could be booked as a cloud service but this will result in further charges. and Welker. R. Configuration of knowledge templates is available for every customer.-Y.-J.. [6] Kaufman. G. Langenberg. CIRP Annals . Zhao. [16] Takabi. [5] Hayka. This approach is very complex because many parameters have to be taken into account. Service providers like Pumacy Technologies benefit from the new cloud technologies. and Tuecke. It is also very high scalable. 7. They change into complete solution providers (software + service) and reach new markets around the world.M.. Collaborative Virtual Engineering for SMEs: Technical Architecture. R. Langenberg. 184-175. Hayka. From the view of the provider.c. J. S. D. 500–504. 2001. L. R. 2008. So session replication appears as little as possible. Gärtner. In case the active load balancer drops out it can easily be replaced by a load balancer on another node. CIRP Annals . H. Kazi. 507–514. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The presented results with respect to the KM service KMcloud have partly been developed during the project KnowledgeCloud. 1. The service needs almost no set-up time and can be used as long as the collaboration in the VO continues. Cloud Computing and Grid Computing 360-Degree Compared.S. [11] Lu.D... Krause. 143-146.. 2008. several enhancements will be added until the end of the project. 2010. I. 13-19. F. C... 4. Hayka. 2(February 2010).. Thus. The whole system except the database is redundant that any component of it could drop out and nearly no impact on the whole service is noticeable. CONCLUSIONS With the SaaS-System KMcloud project partners are able to share their relevant knowledge across organizational boundaries easily. and Lu. 2010. The anatomy of the grid: Enabling scalable virtual organizations. REALIZED SYSTEM The development in the project KnowledgeCloud is accomplished in two main phases. Kesselman. International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications 15.3. H. IEEE Network 2007. After that. A comparison of load balancing techniques for scalable Web servers. Automatic node management: The cluster decides internally if nodes are added or removed. Kind. H. the staffs can focus their work on high quality results of the collaborative project.-L. In the first phase. and Wilhelm. 200-222. To lower the inner cluster communication the load balancer keeps track of sessions so a subsequent request will be sent to the node which already has the affected session data. 58-64. Joshi. [10] Leavitt.. 693699. . Klovning. 3. The rollout of KMcloud (www..C.. [4] Foster.. Knowledge management in virtual communities. 55-57. 15-21. R. [14] will be in the near future with the following key functionalities:      KMcloud service is operating in a cloud environment and is accessible from the Internet. This project is co-funded by the German Government (BMWi. D. 605-634. [9] Leavitt.kmcloud. 9. www. 2011. I. and Langenberg. H.Manufacturing Technology 58. Schuh. Open Journal of Knowledge Management 3. structure. Website about KMcloud... N. A Scientific Foundation of Collaborative Engineering. and Ahn.. D. 8. and Stark. ZWF Zeitschrift für wirtschaftlichen Fabrikbetrieb 105. [15] Stark.. E. Therefore it scales flexible and can be used for a single client or for hundreds of VOs. W..B. D. and Kure. To avoid that the load balancer is a single point of failure it's started on every node but only one is used.Manufacturing Technology 56. Will NoSQL Databases Live Up to Their Promise? Computer 43. [13] Pumacy Technologies AG. J. 4. G. 12-14. [3] Foster. F. 2010. 6. EP101090) and supervised by EuroNorm GmbH. Security and Privacy Challenges in Cloud Computing Environments. Raicu.kmmaster. 2000. [2] Dryndos.5 Load Balancing To distribute the user request between the several KMcloud instances a load balancer is needed. There are various optimization approaches available to optimize load balancing [1]. manage and provide knowledge.... H. the KMcloud service makes use of various cloud resources. REFERENCES [1] Bryhni. 1-10. 1 (January 2009).

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