Telecommunications networks, and the services delivered over those networks have become an integral part of most people's lives in the developed world. The range and availability of these services is increasing, however the management of services still lags well behind technical capability, providing unnecessary barriers to the adoption of available technology. The work described in this dissertation has a primary goal of enabling flexible, automated delivery of any telecommunication-based service. More specifically, a mechanism to solve the administrative problems in enabling end users to automatically establish service agreements for any available service, from any available provider.
The aims of this work are to:
1. enable the description of service level agreements(SLA) for generalised telecommunication-based services, and
2. provide mechanisms by which those service level agreements may be managed.
The term “generalised services” means that all service types are managed using a common framework and set of processes.
To derive at a suitable service level agreement description language, the characteristics of telecommunication-based services are first analysed, along with considerations in delivering a service, including service quality, resource allocation and configuration, service pricing and service ubiquity. The current art in SLA description is studied and the requirements of an appropriate language are proposed. An ontological approach to SLA description is adopted, and an SLA description language is developed based on semantic web technologies.
To develop the mechanisms for SLA management, the current art is first analysed, and a set of requirements for a suitable SLA management framework are proposed. These requirements are used to guide the design of a multi-agent SLA negotiation framework, including a detailed description of the communication model, framework processes, and social behaviour of the agents involved.
Finally, the SLA description language and the negotiation framework are compared with the closest art, and are assessed against tightly argued criteria. An experimental framework and use cases are developed to explore an application of the proposed solution, and to validate completeness.
The approach taken has led to the following two key contributions:
1. A set of formal ontologies that may be used to semantically describe secure service level agreements for any application domain.
2. A multi-agent system providing an open market where services can be discovered, participants identified, and negotiation performed using context specific mechanisms.
The conclusions of the work are that an ontology-based SLA description language is appropriate for describing generalised SLAs, and that a distributed, agent based negotiation platform that is based on an open market and uses a minimal set of core processes with an extensible, ontology based communication mechanism is appropriate for managing service level agreements in a generalised, automated and ubiquitous way.