Monday, October 13, 2008

Canonical Models and Services

In thinking about canonical models one mostly thinks about an enterprise worthy or industry compliant representation of a business concept or a business entity। Often this canonical model compliant payload is packaged in a response envelope that is returned by the service provider. However, the question is whether the term canonical model can be used to define the " business request" or if it is limited to the "business response". This blog explores the canonical request models that might be used to alter the behavior of enterprise services using search services as an example.

Let us look at a "search service" where one could think of a "context based search request" that is made to the search facility to make the search behavior of the service providers more efficient। In addition, this "search context" could also be used to express the specific search needs of the service consumer. Given this, the question is whether the canonical model could be used to define a request model that is a representation of the service provider search/ browsing parameters and service consumer's usage context. Here the search capabilities of a search service could use search/ browse related grammer rules to interpret the search context that is embedded into the request by the consumer. The context provided by the consumer allows the service provider to "accurately" and "efficiently" interpret the request.

For example, search semantics embedded in a search service that returns cross-sell product options could include information like "customer preferences", "type of credit card used by customer", "shipment processing preferences", "customer purchase history" etc। This type of "customer information" represents usage semantics embedded in the request and allows the provider to return cross-sell product options that are geared to the the specific customer being refered to by the consumer call। This in turn allows compilation of product suggestions which incorporate the profitability levels and purchase ability of this particular customer. The "customer information" is deemed to be the search result and usage context that are sent into the search request. These search results are thus customized to the consumer context without the consumer needing to make multiple calls to get the desired results. Therefore, one could see how the canonical request model has not only the standard search parameters supported by the provider but also allows the consumer to express its' search context and how it might apply the results of the search/browse call.

In addition, the canonical request model based search context could be used by the consumer to drive processing efficiencies in the provider। These request based keywords/ context can help the provider eliminate or short-circuit certain types of processing as well. For example, a canonical request model could support "new customer search" vs "existing customer inquiry" keywords to help alter the providers' audit processing behavior and past inquiry Here a consumer call with "new customer search" context could be used to suggest to the provider that the audit/ security and past inquiry lookup be disabled thus positively impacting the response time of search call.

In conclusion, we can see that the consumer usage semantics allow the provider to tailor it's search behavior to the needs of the consumer without changing the provider service interface.

Please give me your feedback on this topic। Also, I would be interested in knowing whether or not you have leveraged these concepts in your industry vertical।

Surekha -
Thank you!!

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