On 25 September at 12:15 Orlenys López Pintado will defend his doctoral thesis “Collaborative Business Process Execution on the Blockchain: The Caterpillar System“ for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Natural Sciences (in informatics).
Supervisor: Prof. Marlon Dumas, Institute of Computer Science UT
Opponents: Prof. Dimka Karastoyanova, University of Groningen (The Netherlands)
Dr. Pierluigi Plebani, Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
Nowadays, organizations are pressed to collaborate in order to take advantage of their complementary capabilities and to provide best-of-breed products and services to their customers. To do so, organizations need to manage business processes that span beyond their organizational boundaries. Such processes are called collaborative business processes. One of the main roadblocks to implementing collaborative business processes is the lack of trust between the participants. Blockchain provides a decentralized ledger that cannot be tamper with, that supports the execution of programs called smart contracts. These features allow executing collaborative processes between untrusted parties and without relying on a central authority. However, implementing collaborative business processes in blockchain can be cumbersome, error-prone and requires specialized skills. In contrast, established Business Process Management Systems (BPMSs) provide convenient abstractions for rapid development of process-oriented applications. This thesis addresses the problem of automating the execution of collaborative business processes on top of blockchain technology in a way that takes advantage of the trust-enhancing capabilities of this technology while offering the development convenience of traditional BPMSs. The thesis also addresses the question of how to support scenarios in which new parties may be onboarded at runtime, and in which parties need to have the flexibility to change the default routing logic of the business process. We explore architectural approaches and modelling concepts, formulating design principles and requirements that are implemented in a novel blockchain-based BPMS named CATERPILLAR. The CATERPILLAR system supports two methods to implement, execute and monitor blockchain-based processes: compiled and interpreted. It also supports two mechanisms for controlled flexibility; i.e., participants can collectively decide on updating the process during its execution as well as granting and revoking access to parties.