Distributed Workflow Restructuring: An Experimental Study
Ruiz, Duncan Dubugras
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Workflow systems have been one of the enabling technologies for automation of business processes in corporate enterprises. Many modern production workflows need to incorporate deadline control throughout the workflow management system. However, the increasing volume and diversity of digital information available online and the unpredictable amount of network delays or server failures have led to a growing problem that conventional workflow management systems do not have, namely how to reorganize existing workflow activities in order to meet deadlines in the presence of unexpected delays. We refer to this problem as the workflow-restructuring problem. This paper describes the notation and issues of workflow restructuring, and discusses a set of workflow activity restructuring operators. We illustrate the inherent semantics of these restructuring operators using the Transactional Activity Model (TAM). The paper contains two main contributions. First, we study the environmental instabilities (e.g., resource shortages and network delays) that cause workflows to perform sub-optimally and how workflow restructuring can address this problem. Second, we evaluate the effectiveness of workflow-restructuring operators through simulation. Our initial experiments demonstrate that run-time workflow restructuring can improve response time significantly for unstable environments.