European researchers working on the Cascadas project have developed a new software abstraction called Autonomic Communication Elements (ACEs). The researchers say that ACEs will enable ecosystems for service networks and make possible the “Internet of things,” in which people, devices, telecoms, and data networks are integrated into a single network. The Cascadas project was launched with the purpose of investigating autonomics as an emerging technology for creating innovative and flexible service networks ecosystems for telecommunications and the Internet, says Cascadas coordinator Antonio Manzalini. “Autonomic technology is taking inspiration from the biological characteristics of the human autonomic nervous systems,” Manzalini says. “An autonomic system is capable of making decisions on its own. Using high-level policies, it constantly checks and optimizes its status and it automatically adapts to changing conditions, with limited human intervention.” ACEs are distributed, lightweight software components capable of self-configuration, self-organization, and self-healing that combine numerous elements to create a service for any type of device or network. For example, ACEs on a mobile phone could self-organize with ACEs on a data network. The ACE components link with the preferred wireless network to aggregate and deliver the service to the user. Manzalini says that ACE-equipped networks and devices can constantly adapt and change to create endless variety and diversity. Cascadas has developed an open source framework and toolkit for ACE ecosystems and ported the toolkit to several application environments, including Google’s Android operating system.
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