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Conflicts in policy-based distributed systems management

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2 Author(s)
Lupu, E.C. ; Dept. of Comput., Imperial Coll. of Sci., Technol. & Med., London, UK ; Sloman, M.

Modern distributed systems contain a large number of objects and must be capable of evolving, without shutting down the complete system, to cater for changing requirements. There is a need for distributed, automated management agents whose behavior also has to dynamically change to reflect the evolution of the system being managed. Policies are a means of specifying and influencing management behavior within a distributed system, without coding the behavior into the manager agents. Our approach is aimed at specifying implementable policies, although policies may be initially specified at the organizational level and then refined to implementable actions. We are concerned with two types of policies. Authorization policies specify what activities a manager is permitted or forbidden to do to a set of target objects and are similar to security access-control policies. Obligation policies specify what activities a manager must or must not do to a set of target objects and essentially define the duties of a manager. Conflicts can arise in the set of policies. Conflicts may also arise during the refinement process between the high level goals and the implementable policies. The system may have to cater for conflicts such as exceptions to normal authorization policies. The paper reviews policy conflicts, focusing on the problems of conflict detection and resolution. We discuss the various precedence relationships that can be established between policies in order to allow inconsistent policies to coexist within the system and present a conflict analysis tool which forms part of a role based management framework. Software development and medical environments are used as example scenarios

Published in:

Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 6 )