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OPEN DEI Reference Architecture for cross-domain Digital Transformation

OPEN DEI aims, among other objectives, at harmonizing and coordinating different Digital Transformation (DT) approaches under a common Reference Architecture Framework (RAF) so that experiences and lessons learned could be shared and assessed crossing the boundaries of specific applicative sectors.

The deliverable D2.1 Reference Architecture for cross-domain Digital Transformation, that will be available on the OPEN DEI website, aims to investigate and identify the current practices (including definition, concepts, processes, models, and templates) for the development of a Reference Architecture Framework relevant to the four sectors targeted by OPEN DEI, as well as providing recommendations (i.e. based on the identified principles) to successfully design and operate Digital Platforms supporting DT journeys.

Starting from a Reference Architecture case analysis  and relying on the requirements coming from the Innovation Actions under the CSA umbrella, the OPEN DEI project has defined the approach for designing a common Reference Architecture Framework able to describe the Cross Domain Digital Transformation.

The extensive use of sensors and connected devices is a common scenario in the implementation of many Digital Transformation solutions and in many industrial sectors. The huge amount of available data is able to cover many business scenarios. Data-driven pipelines and workflows management is nowadays crucial for data gathering, processing, and decision support. To cope with this complexity OPEN DEI has adopted a 6C architecture (Connection, Cyber, Computing, Content/Context, Community, Customization), adapted from the one suggested by the German Industrie 4.0 initiative. Furthermore, OPEN DEI RAF is developed around the main concept of Data Spaces, identifying three main different layers described in the following using a bottom-up reading approach:

  • Field Level Data Spaces, it includes the Smart World Services able to collect data and support the interaction with the IoT Systems (configuration, calibration, data acquisition, actuation, etc.), Automation and Smart Assets (robots, machinery, and related operations) and Human Systems (manual operations, supervision, and control, etc.).
  • Edge Level Data Spaces, it defines the typical edge operations from the data acquisition (from the logical perspective) to the data processing through the data brokering. The edge services will play a key role also for data analytics (i.e. validating and improving models for data analysis).
  • Cloud Level Data Spaces, it includes data storage, data integration and data intelligence operations on the cloud. The cloud services will process big data, deploy algorithms, integrate different source platforms and services, provide advanced services such as AI prediction and reasoning.


Furthermore, all these horizontal Data Spaces spines will feed the OPEN DEI Reference Architecture Framework a main orthogonal dimension, named X-Industry Data Spaces, characterized by following components:

  • Trusted and Security, incorporating technical frameworks and infrastructures that complements the previous to support trusted and secure exchange, which embraces:
    • Applications Hub, an infrastructure which collects the recipes required for the provision of applications (e.g. deployment, configuration and activation) in a manner that related data access/usage control policies can be enforced.
    • Security Services, a technical framework to support Identity Access Management, Usage Control and other security services.
    • Connectors and Secure Gateways, a technical framework for trusted connection among involved parties.
  • Data Sharing, incorporating technical frameworks and infrastructures for an effective and auditable data sharing, which more specifically embraces:
    • Transaction Manager, a distributed ledger/blockchain infrastructure for logging selected data sharing transactions.
    • Data Models and Ontologies, to leverage common standard and information representations.
    • Data Sharing API, a technical framework for effective data sharing: a data sharing API.
  • Data Trading, incorporating technical frameworks and infrastructures for the trading (offering, monetization) of data, which embraces:
    • App Marketplace, enabling the offering of applications and application building blocks which can be integrated plug&play to enrich existing data spaces.
    • Data Marketplace, enabling the offerings around data resources with associated terms and conditions including data usage/access control policies as well as pricing schemas.
    • Business Support Functions, enabling data/applications usage accounting as well as implementing Clearing House, Payment and Billing functions.
  • Finally, all the mentioned layers serve the realization of Digital Transformation X-Industry Pilots, for enabling applications (sometimes sector specific) for supporting business scenarios from experiments.

Here below, a graphical example representation of the main mappings is provided in the form of a picture comparing the approaches to cross-reference the OPEN DEI RAF service layers to DEMETER Digital Platform.


OPEN DEI consortium will publish soon the first version of the Reference Architecture for cross-domain Digital Transformation report. You can read the complete article on the website:

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Angelo Marguglio

Head of the "Smart Industry and Agrifood" Unit within the R&D Lab of Engineering Group, coordinating a group of more than 20 researchers working on several research projects on Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT, Big Data, Enterprise Social Software, Supply Chain Management, Smart Farming and Food Safety.

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