The architecture of a biosurveillance system determines the cost and effort to construct it as well as the cost and effort to expand and evolve it over time to meet the changing requirements of biosurveillance and take advantage of new technology. The commercial world has evolved and tried many approaches to architecture of both enterprise systems and pan-enterprise systems.
The LCS architecture is a well-established architectural style for enterprise systems. Its essential properties are the use of components that we organize into layers. The layering serves to separate components so that each component interacts with only a few components, thus minimizing the effort required to replace that component with an improved component in the future. Some of the components perform generic functions (e.g., databases) and are available as commercial off-the-shelf products (or open source products) that an architect can use to drastically reduce construction costs. Many PHIN specifications reflect the influence of the LCS architectural style.
The SOA is emerging as the preferred architectural style for constructing pan-enterprise systems. Its essential property is the service, which is a structured way that one organization can offer (externalize) some of its data, computing services, or more complex business process (e.g., delivery of a book or testing of a patient). As suggested by the example of Amazon.com, its main advantage is the speed at which independent organizations can begin to interoperate. The key underlying reason is that organizations can work relatively independently to externalize their capabilities, based on an understanding of the needs of their business partners. This architectural style has significant potential to accelerate the movement toward interoperability among the myriad organizations that participate in biosurveillance. The PHIN specifications at present stop short of endorsing SOA, although IT professionals see messaging methods (e.g., ebXML and PHIN MS) as useful adjuncts to Web service implementations of SOAs.
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