Functional Adaptivity for Digital Library Services in e-Infrastructures: the gCube Approach
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We consider the problem of e-Infrastructures that wish to reconcile the generality of their services with the bespoke requirements of diverse user communities. We motivate the requirement of functional adaptivity in the context of gCube, a service-based system that integrates Grid and Digital Library technologies to deploy, operate, and monitor Virtual Research Environments defined over infrastructural resources. We argue that adaptivity requires mapping service interfaces onto multiple implementations, truly alternative interpretations of the same functionality. We then analyse two design solutions in which the alternative implementations are, respectively, full-fledged services and local components of a single service. We associate the latter with lower development costs and increased binding flexibility, and outline a strategy to deploy them dynamically as the payload of service plugins. The result is an infrastructure in which services exhibit multiple behaviours, know how to select the most appropriate behaviour, and can seamlessly learn new behaviours.