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Managing the configurations of complex systems consisting of various components requires combined efforts by multiple domain experts. These experts have extensive knowledge about different components in the system they need to manage, but little understanding of the issues outside their individual areas of expertise. As a result, the configuration constraints, changes, and procedures specified by those involved in the management of a complex system are often interrelated with one another without being noticed, and their integration into a coherent procedure for configuration represents a major challenge. The method of synthesizing the configuration procedure introduced in this paper addresses this challenge using a combination of formal specification and model finding techniques. We express the knowledge on system management with this method, which is provided by domain experts as first-order logic formulas in the Alloy specification language, and combine it with system-configuration information and the resulting specification. We then employ the Alloy Analyzer tool to find a system model that satisfies all the formulas in this specification. The model obtained corresponds to a procedure for system configurations that satisfies all expert-specified constraints. Finally, we evaluate our method through a case study on a procedure to consolidate virtual machines.
Date of Conference: 22-26 March 2010