I present here a new approach for software deployment whose tentative name is PageBox. It leverages on existing Java standards (Web Archives, Java Server pages, servlets) and technologies, especially:
PageBox aims at
Its core concept is to allow Application Servers to handle Web Archives like browsers handle applets. It is implemented today as a servlet package that can run in free (Tomcat) or inexpensive (Resin) Application Servers and run on a large range of devices. It could be integrated in these products. It could also be embedded in appliances.
It is designed to be operated by ISPs. It conforms to Internet rules, no central administration and almost unlimited scalability through the use of well-defined protocols.
Though this approach implies deploying PageBox and Web Archives on a large number of computers, I show PageBox can be securely administrated and efficiently troubleshot. I also pay special attention to address security issues: Web Archives can be published only by identified entities and network traffic can be protected against tampering and eavesdropping.
Its standardization should interest companies with remote locations, customers and partners that need a sub-second response time and would like to benefit of Web applications advantages, shortened time to market, simplicity and low development cost.
It should also allow ISPs that host Web Applications to increase their revenues and software companies to develop a large range of new applications. Vendors could also sell PageBox appliances.
Table of content
1 Problem statement*
1.1 Web application*
1.2 Graphical front end*
1.3 A third way*
2 Solution based on Java and J2EE*
3 ISP solution*
3.3.1 Web Caching*
3.3.2 PageBox integration*
126.96.36.199 Session handling*
3.3.3 Protocols and security*
188.8.131.52 Client/server protocol*
184.108.40.206 End user security*
3.3.4 Archive publication and distribution*
220.127.116.11 Archive distribution*
18.104.22.168 Archive publication*
22.214.171.124 Charging model*
126.96.36.199 Legal aspects*
3.3.5 Reference data*
188.8.131.52 Serialized objects*
3.3.6 Local data update*
3.3.7 Life cycle*
3.3.9 PageBox API*
3.4 Advantage analysis*
3.4.2 DSL and Cable network*
4 Possible standards*
4.3 Publication protocol*
5 Author biography*
Table of Figures
Figure 1: Intranet solution*
Figure 2: class diagram*
Figure 3: administration*
Figure 4: Actors*
Figure 5: Web caching*
Figure 6: Areas*
Figure 7: Client/server security*
Figure 8: PageBox distribution*
Figure 9: life cycle*
Figure 10: PageBox log display*
Figure 11: PageBox Statistics*
Figure 12: Protocol comparison*
Figure 13: Multiple ISP deployment*
Today to offer a Graphical User Interface a company must either:
Web Applications are successful and address well End Consumer market where availability and response time requirements are lower. The End consumer doesn’t pay nor is paid to use the application but I think the major point here is she or he is an occasional user. Compared to a Professional User, she or he is still a beginner and therefore slower.
Both solutions don't satisfy Professional Users.
A third solution has been successfully deployed on Intranet.
Figure 1: Intranet solution
Here the Web Application is split in a presentation part and an application (business logic + data access) part. The presentation part is deployed in every site. The application part remains on the central site. The presentation part calls the application part using a client/server protocol such as EJB over RMI/IIOP.
This solution combines advantages of both Web Applications and Graphical Front End:
The solution has two drawbacks:
We developed under GNU Lesser General Public License 2.1, a simple implementation addressing the first shortcoming of the third solution.
Its principle is to allow the presentation server to act as a browser and download presentation archives as a browser downloads applets.
Figure 2: class diagram
It contains a service servlet JSPservlet, invoked by the servlet container.
Depending on the path, it looks for an archive. If it doesn’t find it creates a class loader JSPloader, which downloads the archive from a remote server. Then a ClassEntry class instantiates the requested servlet or JSP using the created class loader.
PageBox is packaged in a war file, whose init-parameters specify parameters such as the Certificate Authority and Certificate Revocation List URL.
A servlet allows administrating PageBox.
Figure 3: administration
This servlet allows:
The servlet uses GET mode, so it is easy to issue administrative requests with batch commands.
PageBox can use JSSE to download archives using SSL.
It also support signed archives and security using the Sun JKS key store and policy files.
When JSPloader loads an archive class:
When the class is instantiated, it runs in a sandbox and is only allowed permission it was granted in the policy file.
PageBox is a reasonable technical answer to the problem. It is:
But it fails to fully address shortcomings of third way.
The problem is a software solution deployed on the Internet end points cannot be optimal in term of resource use. The only way to address this issue is to ask ISPs and ASPs to host PageBox.
Figure 4: Actors
Figure 4 arrows show the different issues that the ISP solution must address:
PageBoxes will act with dynamic content like Web Caches act with static content.
Figure 5: Web caching
The ISP deploys one or many Entry Web caches and upper layer parent cache(s).
Entry Web Caches are neighbors. For an Entry Web cache other Entry Web Caches act as sibling Web caches.
When a browser doesn’t hold a page, it asks it to a local cache (if one is defined) or to the ISP Entry cache.
If the local cache doesn’t hold a page, it asks it to the closest ISP Entry cache. If it doesn’t hold the page the ISP Entry cache asks its neighbors if they have the page in cache using a standard protocol, ICP defined by RFC 2186 and RFC 2187. If no neighbor has the page, the cache forwards the request to the parent cache.
If the parent cache doesn’t hold the page it retrieves it from the provider site.
Direct retrievals happen when the content cannot be cached.
The ISP divides its network in logical areas.
An area must contain:
An PageBox-enabled Web Cache processes cacheable pages as described on Web Caching section. But if the page is not cacheable, instead issuing a direct retrieval it looks in a table if the URL is handled by neighbor or upper layer PageBoxes.
If neighbors PageBoxes can handle the URL, it select one of them with a round robin algorithm, otherwise it selects an upper layer PageBox. If no PageBox can handle the request, it issues a direct retrieval.
This table can be build and updated by multicasting standard ICP messages ICP_OP_QUERY to PageBoxes. They answer ICP_OP_HIT if they can handle the URL or ICP_OP_MISS if they cannot.
Depending on its size, the ISP can operate PageBoxes at different levels, Region, sub-region, area on Figure 7.
Figure 6: Areas
Suppose archive 1 has a high quality of service requirement or is heavily used. The ISP deploys it on areas.
If it has a low quality of service requirement, the ISP deploys it on regions. In intermediate cases, the ISP deploys it on sub-regions.
PageBox doesn’t require deployed Java servers to support sessions across instances.
Therefore Web Caches must:
When a session is created, the PageBox multicasts an ICP message containing the Session identifier to Web Caches in the same area. Web Caches add the session identifier and the PageBox IP address to a session table and acknowledge the request.
When a session is invalidated or timed out, the PageBox multicasts an ICP message containing the Session identifier to Web Caches in the same area. Web Caches remove the session from the session table and acknowledge the request.
Session tracking uses either cookies or URL rewriting. If the session table is not empty, a Web cache:
We recommend using URL rewriting as it is faster to process.
If a Web Cache restarts after the session failure, it multicasts messages to PageBoxes in the same area. Then the PageBoxes send the identifiers of their current sessions.
The current PageBox can be extended to support session handling inside unmodified Application Servers.
Instead calling target servlets with the HttpServletRequest object of the Application Server, it provides an object that extends the HttpServletRequest implementation.
When getSession() is invoked, instead returning the HttpSession object of the Application Server, it provides an object that extends the HttpSession implementation.
When a session is created (when getSession() is invoked) PageBox intercepts the creation and multicasts an ICP creation message to Web Caches. When a session is invalidated or timed out, PageBox intercepts it and multicasts an ICP deletion to Web Caches.
Servlet specification states the Session identifier is assigned by the servlet container and is unique and implementation dependent. It however lacks a definition of the scope of this uniqueness. The solution above assumes area uniqueness.
The PageBox add-on solution is also neither elegant nor portable (implementation classes depend on the Application Server). Pluggable Session Management as provided in iPlanet would address both issues.
To support client/server requests issued by Published Web Archives,
The PageBoxes and ISP internal network is considered as secure.
Figure 7: Client/server security
Publishers are connected to Entry Points gateways that establish an IPSec tunnel with Publisher hosts or IPSec gateways. The creation of this tunnel implies to establish a security association (SA), so involves the use of Internet Key Exchange (IKE) between the gateway and the publisher.
The IKE authentication is performed using RSA public key encryption.
The repository HTTP entry point described in the coming 184.108.40.206 Archive publication section can automatically configure the gateway.
The ISP can provide an HTTP over SSL access to End-Users.
In this case, the publisher must specify:
If it needs to authenticate the server, it cannot assume the ISP uses the same server certificate chain in different PageBoxes. However all PageBoxes certificate chains must include the certificate of a CA the publisher trusts
Then the publisher is responsible to implement client certificates checking in its archive.
The existing PageBox mechanism is reused.
It separates control and data flow:
Figure 8: PageBox distribution
The implementation uses a simple HTTP GET request (command flow) to send the archive name and location. It can be replaced by an ICP request multicasted to PageBoxes.
PageBox stores the archive location in a PageBox property. JSPloader uses the archive location to download (data flow)
JSPloader stores the certificate in a key store, adds keystore and grant lines to the Permissions to generate a well-formed policy file, uses this policy and key store to create classes in the sandbox. It also stores a local copy of the archive.
It checks if the certification chain includes a trusted CA certificate and if the certificate is not revoked using JNDI / LDAP.
For convenience these files are stored in the same directory on the repository and named:
This mechanism is convenient for distribution. The ISP
Archive installation and update being synchronous, the process can be completely automated and run by batches. It is fully dynamic. PageBoxes can also be remotely monitored. The data being locally copied, the unavailability of a repository server can at most delay updates and there is no risk download burst to collapse the network.
The administration should maintain a base containing the list of the archives installed per PageBox and containing for each archive:
For simplicity, it can be a simple XML file, replicated on different servers:<archive>
It allows automatic deployment and deletion.
The deletion is implemented like distribution using an HTTP GET or ICP request with the archive name. PageBox removes the local archive copy and unreferences archives objects, classes and class loader. The process is fully dynamic.
The publisher must:
It must use archive certificate chains that include a CA the ISP trusts
The publisher can later postpone its expiration date.
The ISP provides an HTTP entry point on its repository. It uses SSL to provide a secure connection and identify the publisher. At SSL handshaking, it issues a Certificate request and the publisher must return its certificate:
|5.||<-----||Server key exchange (Optional)|
|6.||<-----||Server hello done|
|8.||Client key exchange||----->|
|9.||Certificate verify (Optional)||----->|
|10.||Change cipher spec||----->|
|12.||<-----||Change cipher spec|
Then the publisher uses the SSL connection to send the archive name, information listed above and the archive itself.
The ISP can act as a Certificate Authority or trust a Certificate Authority. It can support different client certificate qualities.
A publication can fail:
Based on the client certificate and its non-repudiation ability, the ISP can charge the customer depending on:
The ISP can provide a fully automated service where the customer:
The publisher must include in its archive all libraries needed for the communication between the Web Archive (presentation) and the Application Server but if the ISP choose to deploy these libraries on its PageBoxes.
If the publisher includes commercial libraries, it is responsible to get the needed licenses.
The ISP can check the behavior of an archive on quarantine PageBox(es) before full deployment. It is also true for updates. The ISP must notify the publisher of the update acceptance (end of the quarantine). It is the responsibility of the publisher to support both updated and non-updated presentations during the quarantine.
The publisher publishes a war archive with non-compiled JSP.
The ISP distributes a war archive with compiled JSP to PageBoxes.
PageBox enables the deployment and the use of reference data on ISP site. Their use is recommended.
Reference data are data:
They can be used:
PageBox supports different reference data mechanisms.
PageBox class loader retrieve resources:
Suppose a developer can represent its reference data with an HashMap. She or he can populate it with:
InputStream is = getClass().getClassLoader().getResourceAsStream("myResource.ser");
ObjectInputStream ois = new ObjectInputStream(is);
HashMap hm = (HashMap) ois.readObject();
The publisher includes a JMS client library in its archive or relies on an ISP provided library.
The ISP can forbid local disk access, offer a disk space or database quota.
Local data update is not recommended, as the ISP doesn’t guarantee a given user will always be served by the same PageBox.
Local data update can however be used to record user requests when the publisher application is unavailable.
For completely dehosted solution the publisher can combine the use the ISP PageBox and of an ASP hosted application server.
Figure 9: life cycle
PageBox is today an Application Server add-on and can become an Application Server feature. Programmers can develop in a PageBox. In the future, PageBox support can be integrated in J2EE IDEs. IDEs support servlets and JSPs debugging and can support PageBox packaging.
Therefore the preferred development cycle for PageBox presentations is closely the same as for regular presentation:
Then the Publisher publishes the presentation. The ISP installs it on quarantine PageBox(es).
The publisher acts as a regular user to check the Presentation is properly deployed and pass QA tests.
The ISP checks for harmful behaviors:
The ISP is not responsible to implement or perform Presentation tests.
However it gets statistics on uncalled classes (coverage), number of invocations, memory and CPU use.
The ISP can accept to deploy the presentation only when it has been extensively tested.
To be effective PageBox infrastructure must allow and promote cooperation of ISP and Publisher for troubleshooting through automated means and well defined responsibilities.
The ISP is responsible to fix hardware and network problems, to identify and fix network bottlenecks and resource shortage.
It is also responsible to identify misbehaving presentations (memory leaks, resource overuse) and to report these problems to the publisher. It is allowed to undeploy presentations when the problem has an impact on other presentations.
The publisher must handle problems raised by the ISP and provide fixes or circumvention. It can publish an archive update referring to a problem number and the ISP can choose to deploy it either with a shortened quarantine period or no quarantine at all.
Users report problems to publisher that can be:
The publisher is responsible to identify and in some cases to report the problem to the ISP.
The ISP must provide it access to statistics and logs of the failing PageBox.
The main communication mean between the ISP and the publisher and between the end user and the publisher is SMTP mail. It allows automatic generation and parsing and provides secured delivery. For instance, ISP robot can control PageBoxes, identify the misbehaving presentation and submit a mail to the presentation publisher.
PageBox provides servlets to display and administrate statistics and logs.
There are using GET mode to simplify invocation from batches and scheduling tools.
Both statistics and logs are persistent and survive crashes.
Figure 10: PageBox log display
Figure 11: PageBox Statistics
Statistics can also be returned in a comma separated (.csv) format more suitable for post processing.
The ISP uses these servlets to remotely administrate PageBoxes.
When it identifies a Presentation problem on a PageBox, it gives a temporary access to the failing PageBox administration servlets to the publisher and emails it the URL to use.
The publisher can also ask for a temporary access to troubleshoot functional problems raised by their users using email.
Troubleshooting is the only reason PageBox needs an API we present in the next section.
The PageBox API has two purposes:
This field has a meaning only for the ISP, which is responsible to set it in PageBox web.xml.
The publisher is responsible to define a mean to display this identifier to the user. The publisher uses it to ask for a PageBox access.
The PageBoxAPI class provides therefore two methods:
userprint adds a timestamp and the servlet or JSP path to the message.
Two ISPs cannot use the same identifier as a PageBox can be deployed on both.
In this section, I evaluate the benefit of PageBox in term of traffic, using a simple example of a large dynamically generated page. The PageBox advantage could be confirmed by other studies.
I found on this page the following results:
The data represents 4% of the transferred message.
This page is mainly made of 170 lines containing 15 fields that could be described in xml by:<flightlist>
It represents 478 characters per line, so an overhead of 81,260 characters.
In this case we also need:
An XML solution can use half less bandwidth than HTML.
The Java serialization of these 170 lines requires 19,138 bytes, so an overhead of 9,740 bytes.
We can summarize these results on the chart below.
Figure 12: Protocol comparison
Data size being 100, client/server requires 200, XML 1100 and HTML 2500. Using client/server protocol requires twelve times less bandwidth than HTML and five times less than XML.
PageBoxes use HTML with the consumer equipment and client/server protocol with the publisher.
As a result,
The advent of fast local loop has significant impacts:
PageBox is an enabling technology, allowing:
Though PageBox is primarily designed to address business need for sub-second response time, it can also address similar end consumer needs.
We already listed:
In these cases, the user uses her or his browser only for HTML or XML presentation.
PageBox can handle WML for WAP devices. Mobile network support is the same as regular ISP support. It can be an important market because:
PageBox can also address kiosk needs. In this case a set of kiosks is installed in a location such as an airport or a railway station. If the number of kiosks is large enough the kiosk operator can deploy and operate its own PageBoxes as in case 1, otherwise it uses ISP hosted PageBoxes. Downloaded pages call applets to handle kiosk devices such as magnetic and smart card readers.
With PageBox, Presentation and Application are physically separated. It promotes a specialization of companies either as Application providers or Presentation providers.
Presentation providers can develop Presentations to legacy IP-enabled applications or to multiple applications.
Today PageBox is implemented as a regular Web Archive.
It implies it replicates some functions of Application Servers
It should replicate web.xml parsing (I confess it doesn’t handle it today).
Though this public domain implementation has a value in an interim phase, vendors could better support Application Servers implementing its functions, mainly:
It would be useful to standardize PageBox customization.
RFC 2186 and 2187.
In PageBox integration section, we saw existing ICP_OP_QUERY, ICP_OP_HIT and ICP_OP_MISS were addressing the primary need.
The definition of new messages or the modification of existing messages would however allow PageBoxes to return:
We need new ICP messages to handle sessions:
As ICP is used to drive PageBoxes, it can also be used to install, update or delete PageBoxes archives or to get their status:
The value of PageBox is augmented if a company can publish a Web Archive to a single ISP and get it deployed by many other ISPs.
Figure 13: Multiple ISP deployment
For a multiple ISP deployment, we use exactly the same means as for a single ISP.
The first ISP, the ISP the publisher has published to and presumably subscribed, acts as a publisher for other ISPs. Let’s call it the editor.
When it has received a subscription request, checked the publisher credential, run the Web application in quarantine, it deploys it internally. It also publishes it to other ISPs.
Each other ISP checks its credentials, finds out it is a trusted ISP and deploys the Web Application. Its deployment involves the same steps as for the editor:
As a consequence, it would be useful to standardize the publication protocol
We would need to standardize:
I used to be the main designer and lead developer of an Intranet solution.
At this time I was working for BEA and the customer was a large French bank. It had 2000 agencies and 23000 personal computers and the solution was designed in 1998. So they are differences with Figure 1.
Presentation servers were IIS. They invoked a local Tuxedo, which was used to deliver local services and to invoke central location Tuxedo services. It meant we had to manage and maintain 2000 servers running both IIS and Tuxedo.
I started to work seriously on Application Servers in fall 1999 after moving to Amadeus. During summer 2000, I submitted an article project about class loaders to Java Developer Journal. It accepted the layout. I came back to the design above to illustrate the article and the concept turned to be more exciting than I expected. The article is now divided in three parts, the first one illustrating presentation hosting, a second one administration and a third one the security.
Publisher Mapper Cocoon/SOAP Security Configurator
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©2001-2004 Alexis Grandemange Last modified