Policies are becoming increasingly important in modern computer systems as a mechanism for end users and organisations to exhibit a level of control over software. Policies have long been established as an effective mechanism for enabling appropriate access control over resources, and for enforcing security considerations. However they are now becoming valued as a more general management mechanism for large-scale heterogeneous systems, including those exhibiting adaptive or autonomic behaviour.
In the telecommunications domain, features have been widely used to provide users with (limited) control over calls. However, features have the disadvantage that they are low-level and implementation-oriented in nature. Furthermore, apart from limited parameterisation of some features, they tend to be very inflexible. Policies, in contrast, have the potential to be much higher-level, goal-oriented, and very flexible.
This paper presents an architecture and its realisation for distributed and hierarchical policies within the telecommunications domain. The work deals with the important issue of policy conflict – the analogy of feature interaction.