A unifying perspective on protocol mediation: interoperability in the Future Internet

Bennaceur, Amel; Andriescu, Emil; Speicys Cardoso, Roberto and Issarny, Valérie (2015). A unifying perspective on protocol mediation: interoperability in the Future Internet. Journal of Internet Services and Applications, 6, article no. 12.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13174-015-0027-3

Abstract

Given the highly dynamic and extremely heterogeneous software systems composing the Future Internet, automatically achieving interoperability between software components —without modifying them— is more than simply desirable, it is quickly becoming a necessity. Although much work has been carried out on interoperability, existing solutions have not fully succeeded in keeping pace with the increasing complexity and heterogeneity of modern software, and meeting the demands of runtime support. On the one hand, solutions at the application layer target higher automation and loose coupling through the synthesis of intermediary entities, mediators, to compensate for the differences between the interfaces of components and coordinate their behaviours, while assuming the use of the same middleware solution. On the other hand, solutions to interoperability across heterogeneous middleware technologies do not reconcile the differences between components at the application layer. In this paper we propose a unified approach for achieving interoperability between heterogeneous software components with compatible functionalities across the application and middleware layers. First, we provide a solution to automatically generate cross-layer parsers and composers that abstract network messages into a uniform representation independent of the middleware used. Second, these generated parsers and composers are integrated within a mediation framework to support the deployment of the mediators synthesised at the application layer. More specifically, the generated parser analyses the network messages received from one component and transforms them into a representation that can be understood by the application-level mediator. Then, the application-level mediator performs the necessary data conversion and behavioural coordination. Finally, the composer transforms the representation produced by the application-level mediator into network messages that can be sent to the other component. The resulting unified mediation framework reconciles the differences between software components from the application down to the middleware layers. We validate our approach through a case study in the area of conference management.

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