Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Collaborative work and the Cloud

Working Together
On Tuesday 11th October 2011, the Aristote association held a seminar on "Collaborative work and the Cloud" at École Polytechnique in Paris, France. The seminar was organized by Drissa Houatra (Orange Labs) and Philippe d'Anfray (CEA).

This day was a perfect opportunity to see very diverse presentations centered on the concept of collaboration.

Perception and restitution of user actions in a virtual 3D environment (Patrick Horain, Telecom Sud Paris)
Presentation of different techniques allowing to recreate in real time a 3D avatar in a virtual world, thanks to simple 2D acquisition methods (such as a simple webcam, as opposed to more advanced devices such as Microsoft's Kinect), including detection of movement and facial expressions to reproduce them on the avatar. The underlying idea is that, during a virtual meeting, it is much easier to understand one's interlocutor with physical and facial clues.

Collaborative modeling of services systems. The case of service innovation in telecoms" (Florie Bugeaud, Université de Technologie de Troyes)
Presentation of Florie Burgeaud's PhD thesis. She focused on how to have different actors (sales, management, technical) collaborate to define new services. She presented a model based, among other things, on hypergraphs: thanks to a web interface (iSamara, property of France Télécom), the actors take notes on the description of a potential service, i.e., on the actors involved, the locations, the events, and so on. From these notes and the links between elements, a hypergraph representing situations and "transition paths" between these situations is determined; these paths show the possible services. This very interesting approach could simplify the determination of a new product or product feature.

Enabling a collaborative environment via the Contrail project (Roberto Cascella, INRIA)
Presentation of European project Contrail, which aims to provide a federating infrastructure for Clouds, which considers the issues of global authentication and SLA. It relies on OVF for the description of applications, GAFS for storage, CDMI for images, and should support OCCI. The solution will be distributed as open-source software.

PRISME, the new Web 2.0 Intranet of IFP Énergies Nouvelles (Hervé Durant et Nathalie Triquet, IFPEN)
Presentation of the intranet/extranet and internet websites used at IFPEN. They are dynamic sites adapted to each user depending on the projects they are involved in, capable of handling workflows for documentation management, providing modification alerts for selected pages, etc. The solution is based on Jalios's JCMS solution (Java + Tomcat) with an Active Directory for authentication and an Apache server to handle load balancing between 2 servers.

XWiki: fostering information sharing thanks to an applicative wiki (Ludovic Dubost, XWiki)
Very interesting presentation of open-source software XWiki. XWiki is a wiki solution with advanced functionalities for managing pages and their content: WYSIWYG editor, importing of Microsoft Office or LibreOffice documents (either gathering data to display it properly in the wiki or, for Powerpoint presentations for instance, inserting images from the slides directly in the wiki), possibility of having tables with filters to display only selected information, teplates for pages with forms support (dropdown lists), and more. It is actually possible to define data models and integrate them in the wiki pages to create integrated applications in the wiki: project management, holiday requests, expense accounts, HR management (to store job descriptions, résumés, and so on, allowing people to collaborate on application selection), support requests for servers, and a lot more of interesting possibilities. Current customers include EADS, JCDecaux, Aelia, EMC, Fidelia, WaterWiki. There is currently no tool to easily migrate another wiki to XWiki, but it natively supports 6 wiki formatting styles, allowing manual import of pages.

Memory architecture (Jean-Marie Dallet, Sliders-Lab, EESI)
Presentation of projects realized by Sliders-Lab to display multimedia documents in a simple, interactive way. For example, representing an image and movie database as an Archimedes screw, a torus, a tower of Babel, etc., allowing navigation inside (mainly designed for touch user interfaces).

SysFera-DS: towards a collaborative portal for EDF (Jean-Marc Laymajoux, EDF, and Benjamin Depardon, SysFera)
With Jean-Marc Laymajoux, we have presented the results of a collaborative project conducted in 2011. The project aimed at providing a solution adapted to the EDF environment that would allow various users (non-IT specialists, developers, directors) to access simply, through various interfaces (command-line interface, C++, Python, WebServices) to distributed and heterogeneous HPC resources.
The talk introduced the project's context, the solution implemented with SysFera-DS, and the various modules developed for this solution: user-management system (UMS), file-management system (FMS), information-management system (IMS) and task-management system (TMS). The solution is currently used by EDF R&D and is already interfaced with EDF's SALOME platform ( and accessible through a demo website.

Real time and collaboration: inventing new usages (Alexandre Eisenchteter, af83)
Quick presentation of UCEngine, a library allowing real-time publish/subscribe with advanced functionalities: widget, video stream, etc.

Illustration : Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept by - CC-BY-SA

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