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CAMELEON: Communication Agents for Mobility Enhancements in a Logical Environment of Open Networks

Steffen Bretzke, Ericsson Eurolab Deutschland GmbH, (email removed)


Objectives
Technical Approach
User Trials
Project Results

Objectives

Image The CAMELEON project has striven to achieve an in-depth understanding of the relevance of agent technology, its associated opportunities and risks, especially in a mobile environment. CAMELEON's approach is based on the conviction that function, fit and performance of the use of agent technology in telecommunications networks have to be investigated jointly:

The CAMELEON project has developed a set of three attractive user services in the context of personalised services provided by the Virtual Home Environment (VHE) being developed for the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) as a service domain. The project has also supported standardisation and specification processes on agent technologies, UMTS and VHE through contributions based on project results, using the presence of the project partners in the relevant organisations.

Technical Approach

Image The technical work in the CAMELEON project is divided into three groups of activities:

The project has specified, simulated, implemented, and evaluated services for two time horizons, year 2000 and year 2005. These services include the adaptive profile manager (APM), the virtual address book (VAB), and the Flexible Financial Services (FFS). CAMELEON has used the results of this work to demonstrate the application of agent technology for providing services 'anywhere, anytime' via telecommunications networks, by allowing dynamic distribution of service-related data and processing across networks. The project has raised the commercial and public interest for the application of agent technology, mainly by workshops, publications and demonstrations.

Technical Approach CAMELEON<

Figure 1: Technical Approach CAMELEON

The work of CAMELEON has been carried out in several work packages , and these are described below.

Developing Agent-based Architectures for Service Portability

Work package WP1, Developing Agent-based Architectures for Service Portability, delivered a set of requirements providing a specification of three service prototypes using agent technology in their implementation. The specification is based on:

WP1 is divided into two activities, one to develop basic concepts and architectures and another to evaluate the concepts through simulation and analysis.

There are three possible methods to realise the VHE concept. These methods include (1) Intelligent Networks (IN), (2) moving service control to the terminal and (3) intelligent agents using Java- and CORBA-based platforms. It should be noted that these methods are not mutually exclusive and some services may be more suited to one method than another. In reality, a hybrid approach may be the most effective way to realise the VHE but given the time constraints and the task we were addressing, CAMELEON opted for the third option in this work package.

In developing a high-level architecture for the VHE in UMTS based upon agent technology, the project considered the following points:

WP1 includes a small but dedicated 'simulation and analysis' activity to allow for performance investigations of the defined mobile agent architectures. Since this is a new field, the scalability of the defined architectures needs to be evaluated in a model-based approach. Models reflecting the relevant distribution aspects of the service logic and service data are designed and evaluated for representative scenarios. The final evaluation uses parameters and measurements from the implementation in WP2.

Building Systems for Service Portability

Work package WP2 is labelled 'Building Systems for Service Portability'. Platforms for services are continuously evolving, and CAMELEON chose to show the feasibility and implications of future services on platforms to be used in the near future (Agent Platform 2000) as well as designing and implementing them on a demonstration platform targeted for widespread employment around 2005 (Agent Platform 2005). This approach also enables the interoperability of platforms and the investigation of a possible migration path between platforms to be tested. To identify the potential of the different platforms, a broad range of services has been selected for prototyping and showing the possibilities of the VHE in UMTS.

Platform

Agent System

Code

Service

Details

Platform 2000

Voyager by ObjectSpace

APM 2000

Adaptive Profile Manager

Intelligent communications manager, personal data query, information retrieval service

VAB

Virtual Address Book

Integration of various data bases, data query, replication and synchronisation

FFS

Flexible Financial Services

Home-banking, using the German HBCI protocol, and electronic payment service

Platform 2005

Grasshopper by IKV

APM 2005

Adaptive Profile Manager

Handling and conversion of incoming calls based on user configurations and terminal profiles

Validating Usability through User Trials

Work package WP 3 evaluates the services developed in WP2 and was implemented on two platforms.

For Agent Platform 2000, the guided user trials are conducted over the public fixed and GSM networks in Europe allowing the evaluation of the service functionality in a realistic environment. The consortium has access to GSM test networks in several European countries, and these can be used in combination with public fixed and mobile network to implement functionality requiring changes to network nodes. It is envisaged, however, that most of the functionality will be implemented in servers attached to network.

For Agent Platform 2005, the guided user trials for the APM service are implemented at partner sites in guided demonstrations. Selected users are invited to the site and the service is demonstrated. Users are then asked to complete a pre-defined set of tasks and fill out an evaluation questionnaire on their experience with the service. The Agent Platform 2005 is based on technology not available in public networks in the lifetime of the project.

WP3 will provide feedback to WP1 concerning the relevance of the concepts and their specifications and to WP2 concerning the relevance of the CAMELEON services.

User Trials

Image At this point in time, the guided user trials have been prepared, but not executed. The complete report on the user trials and their results will not be available before mid-January 2000. Please contact Frank Timphus at Mannes Mobilfunk GmbH, Germany, for the latest details on the user trials.

Project Results

Image The CAMELEON project results are as follows.

Developing Agent-based Architectures for Service Portability

The project has prepared a detailed concept description, which describes the proposed network architecture for the VHE. Key issues include:

The project has discussed security requirements of the proposed network architecture, in particular highlighting weaknesses with respect to fraud.

WP1 has developed a performance model for services in a VHE in terms of signalling load, transaction times and costs. WP1 has also investigated the distribution and storage of service logic and service data for agent-based services, namely the location and mobility of agents.

Building Systems for Service Portability

The Adaptive Profile Manager (APM) has been implemented on two platforms, Voyager-based APM 2000 and APM 2005, the CORBA-compliant Grasshopper system. The project has enjoyed the support and co-operation of both ObjectSpace and IKV in gaining an understanding of their distributed computing platforms.

For the APM 2000, the following services have been implemented and tested: Intelligent Communication Management (ICM), Personal Data Query (PDQ) and Information Retrieval Service (IRS). The APM 2005 has implemented the Personal Communication Management (PCM) Service.

The Virtual Address Book (VAB) service has been extended by the inclusion of an Advanced Directory Service (ADS) and an Advanced Addressing Service (AAS). The Personal Naming and Directory Service for Mobile Users based on a JavaCard has been implemented and integrated with the VAB.

The Flexible Financial Service (FFS) has been implemented and tested with the objective of showing financial service functions that provide homebanking and electronic payment based on the agent paradigm. Detailed measurements of this service have been returned to WP1.

Some project partners implemented and tested additional services, namely FATS, the Flight Arrival Tracking System, the PTA, the Personal Telecommunications Assistant, the CTS, the Calling Name Service, and the TIS, the Tariff Information Service.

Service Interworking Architecture

The most important achievement, however, is the specification, implementation and testing of a complete Service Interworking Architecture, the SIA.

In CAMELEON, each service has been designed as a group of agents using one of two agent platforms. The communication between agents of the same service will be specific to the designer's choice of the communication protocol and tied closely to the agent platform used. In platform 2005, the agent platform is a MASIF-compliant platform therefore allowing flexibility in agent platform interoperability. In contrast, platform 2000 chooses an alternative approach to realise the services. Services in platform 2000 can be realised with various agent platforms from existing technology. The major drawback in this architecture is that it imposes a restriction in service interaction due to the choice of agent platforms used.

CL communication channels in CAMELEON Agents

Figure 2: ACL communication channels in CAMELEON Agents

The Common Communication Module (CCM) of CAMELEON is designed as an auxiliary module to handle this restriction. More importantly it allows the service created by different service provisioning operators (SPO) to interact with each other. CCM uses a communication protocol based on FIPA's ACL. The use of ACL in the CAMELEON architecture provides several advantages that are more obvious in a dynamic and distributed environment similar to that found in the CAMELEON scenario.

In a traditional approach, service interoperability can be solved by an RPC-based paradigm. This would mean that each service exposes a set of functions through a well-defined API. Other services that wish to use a service will have to adhere closely to these APIs. In a dynamic environment, changes in APIs would mean that software using the earlier functionality would have to be re-compiled. In contrast to the RPC-based software interoperability paradigm, ACL offers a universal message-oriented communication language approach providing a consistent speech-act-based interface. This method provides a more flexible approach for communication between agents or entities.

The CCM architecture includes the design of a message transport suitable for a wireless and wired environment. The CCM architecture consists of a Communication Manager, a Connection Manager and a Transport Manager to ensure proper delivery of messages between agents. In the CCM design, several transport protocols are used to demonstrate message delivery over the diverse transport media found in a wireless and wired environment.

CCM based agent platform reference model<

Figure 3: CCM based agent platform reference model

The Service Inter-working Architecture is mainly used for service inter-action, service browsing and initial service provisioning. To realise these features, the CCM is incorporated into the terminal agent, provider agent and the inter-service communication agent (ISCA). Each service in the platform 2000 will be incorporated with an ISCA translating the internal API to ACL and vice-versa. The use of CCM in the terminal agent allows the agent obtained from a home network to inter-operate with a provider agent in a newly visited serving network. The core agent using CCM also makes use of XML as a semantic language to code the contents of the ACL messages. An XML-based content interpreter has been designed and implemented as part of the CCM work.

The next section of this document: DICEMAN: Distributed Internet Content Exchange with MPEG-7 and Agent Negotiations

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