US 20070162613 A1
Control messages constructed in accordance with a first communications protocol for use in a communications network each include a first address identifier having a format defined by the first protocol. The control message is processed to derive a second address identifier having a format defined by a second communications protocol. The control message is re-formatted for transmission, in accordance with the second protocol, to a network system associated with the second address identifier.
1. A method for processing messages in a unified packet network capable of processing and delivering packet messages using first and second destination address formats, said method comprising:
transmitting a message into a packet network having a first destination address format encapsulating information sufficient to derive a second address format for the same destination;
if said first address format is determined not to be deliverable in said network, then deriving said second address format from said encapsulated information and re-transmitting said message into said network using said second address format for said destination.
2. A method as in
3. A method as in
This application is a divisional application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/220,498 filed Aug. 30, 2002 which was the national phase of PCT/GB 01/01343 filed Mar. 26, 2001 and which claimed priority from EP application 00302424.7 filed Mar. 24, 2000, the disclosure of which priority applications is incorporated herein by reference.
1. Technical Field
This invention relates to processing control messages for use in communications network, and in particular to a method, data processing system and software application program for processing control messages constructed in accordance with a communications control protocol. The invention is particularly, but not exclusively, directed to text-based application-layer communication control protocols.
2. Related Art
The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an application-layer control protocol for creating, modifying and terminating sessions having one or more participants. These sessions include Internet multimedia conferences, Internet telephone calls and multimedia distribution. Members in a session can communicate via multicast or via a mesh of unicast relations, or a combination of these. SIP supports session descriptions that allow participants to agree on a set of compatible media types. It also supports user mobility by proxying and redirecting requests to the user's current location. SIP is not tied to any particular conference control protocol. There is widespread interest in the protocol, especially for telephony-related applications. SIP was proposed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) group and is now a proposed standard published as RFC 2543.
The entities used in SIP are user agents, proxy servers, redirect servers and location servers. A SIP user agent is an end-system that allows a user to participate in a session. A SIP user agent contains both a user agent client and a user agent server. A user agent client is used to initiate a session and a user agent server is used to respond to request from a user agent client. A user is addressed using an email-like address identifier “user@host”, where “user” is a user name or phone number and “host” is a domain name or numerical Internet Protocol (IP) address. SIP defines a number of request types, in particular INVITE, ACK, BYE, OPTIONS, CANCEL, and REGISTER. Responses to SIP messages indicate success or failure, distinguished by status codes, 1xx (100 to 199) for progress updates, 2xx for success, 3xx for redirection, and higher numbers for failure. Each new SIP transaction has a unique call identifier (call ID), which identifies the session. If the session needs to be modified, e.g. for adding another media, the same call identifier is used as in the initial request, in order to indicate that this is a modification of an existing session.
The SIP user agent has two basic functions: listening for incoming SIP messages, and sending SIP messages upon user actions or incoming messages. The SIP user agent typically also starts appropriate applications according to the session that has been established. The SIP proxy server relays SIP messages, so that it is possible to use a domain name to find a user, for example using the Domain Name System (DNS) rather than knowing the IP address or name of the host. A SIP proxy can thereby also be used to hide the location of the user. A redirect server returns the location of the host rather than relaying the SIP message. Both redirect and proxy servers accept registrations from users, in which the current location of the user is given. The user's location can be stored at a dedicated location server.
SIP is typically implemented by transmitting Internet Protocol (IP) packets. SIP is independent of the packet layer and only requires an unreliable datagram service, as it provides its own reliability mechanism. While SIP typically is used over UDP or TCP, it could be used over frame relay, ATM AAL5 or X.25.
SIP is a text based protocol and is based to a certain extent (in terms of syntax) on the HTTP protocol. A typical message consists of a single request line, a number of header lines and a message body.
The request line indicates the type of the messages, the message destination and the SIP version it complies with. The following is a typical example:
A header line contains the name of the header type, followed by a semicolon and the contents as these are defined for the specific header. Consequently, each header type is used for a specific purpose (either to indicate some parameters or to issue a request). The following are typical examples:
The message body may be of any content, although it usually has contents formatted in accordance with the Session Description Protocol (SDP).
SIP URL address identifiers such as sip:Richard@bt.com are required for the exchange of SIP messages in a similar way that e-mail URL address identifiers are required for the exchange of electronic mail.
By using an e-mail type address it is possible to deliver a SIP message to a SIP server that knows the location of the user or user agent server the message is intended for. The IP address of the SIP server having authority for the callee's address can be readily determined by DNS. However, this approach requires users of both SIP and e-mail services to be allocated different and potentially confusing SIP and e-mail addresses. This exacerbates the problem of address memory, address book maintenance and in particular, address resolution using database queries. A further problem associated with SIP is that as a newly implemented protocol there is no delivery guarantee, that is to say delivery of a SIP message addressed using a SIP URL may fail, for instance because the intended recipient is not enabled to receive SIP messages.
According to an aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for processing control messages constructed in accordance with a first communications protocol for use in a communications network, each control message including a first address identifier having a format defined by said first protocol; said method comprising the steps of:
In this way, a control message constructed in accordance with a first network protocol can be readily converted for transmission over a second network protocol to a network system having an network address identifier constructed in accordance with the second protocol. The integration of new communications services implemented over a new protocol can be improved with the above method. For instance, a control messages constructed in accordance with a newly implemented communications protocol can be readily converted for transmission to a network address associated with a communications service provided over a widely implemented protocol where the address corresponds to an intended destination address associated with a new communications service provided over the newly implemented protocol. For instance, if a message is sent but not delivered to a user or location identified by an address identifier associated with a newly implemented protocol, the address identifier can be resolved back to an address identifier associated with a widely implemented protocol and the message sent to the location associated with that resolved address by means of a service available over the widely implemented communications protocol. This may be necessary, for instance, if the network system associated with the original address identifier is not capable of receiving control messages constructed in accordance with the newly implemented protocol. A further advantage of the above method is that users can readily address messages etc, for transmission over one communications protocol using an address identifier associated with another communication protocol. The ability to make use of the address space associated with a widely implemented communications protocol is very important when say new services are to be introduced using a new protocol. For example, a user may address a message to another user using a new address identifier derived from a known identifier regardless of whether the user is aware of the recipient's address identifier for the newly introduced protocol or whether the recipient has indeed been allocated a new address identifier or is capable of receiving the message over the new protocol. In the context of the present invention it is to be understood that all or part of the control message may be re-formatted for transmission over the second protocol. For instance, the address identifier only may be re-formatted and the remainder of the message discarded.
Preferably, a control message is processed in accordance with steps i) and ii) in response to a detected delivery failure of said control message to a network system associated with said first address identifier. In this way if a control message fails to be delivered using a communication service provided over one protocol, say a newly implemented protocol, the message can be processed according to the above method for delivery over another communications protocol, for example a widely implemented protocol.
Conveniently, said control message is processed in response to said first address identifier being identified as an invalid address identifier. In this way a control message having invalid destination address identifier can be processed for transmission by means of a service implemented over another protocol to a valid network address recognised by that protocol.
In preferred embodiments, said control message is processed in response to said network system associated with said first address identifier failing to respond to said message. This allows control messages to be processed for delivery by another communications service when the intended destination network system is unavailable or unwilling to receive control messages delivered in accordance with one network protocol but available or willing to accept messages delivered in accordance with another network protocol.
Preferably, said method further comprises the step of selecting a pre-determined error message for transmission to said network device associated with said second address in accordance with a respective failure mode associated with said detected control message delivery failure. In this way a destination end user or end system can be informed of a detected delivery failure.
Conveniently, said method further comprises the step of linking said control message to said pre-determined message for transmission to said network device associated with said second address identifier. In this way data contained in the control message can be made available to the intended recipient in such a way that pre-determined message templates can be used for message construction.
In preferred embodiments, said pre-determined message comprises executable code, or an network address identifier for accessing executable code, wherein said code is capable of processing said control message in accordance with said first protocol. In this way end systems or users can readily access software programs for receiving communications services provided over a newly implemented protocol.
Preferably, said pre-determined message comprises a pre-defined data structure for registering said first address identifier with an address database associated with said first protocol. In this way end systems or users can readily register an address identifier for receiving communications services provided over a newly implemented protocol.
Conveniently, said first address identifier comprises at least one address component and said step of processing said message comprises constructing said second address identifier to include at least one component of said first address. In this way address components can be common to both first and second address identifiers.
In preferred embodiments, said second address identifier is contained in said first address identifier and said method comprises the step of parsing said control message to identify said first address identifier and determine said second address identifier from said first address identifier. This enables the second address identifier to be readily derivable from the first address identifier.
Preferably, said first protocol is an application layer control protocol. This provides for the implementation of user applications and new communications services.
Conveniently, said application layer control protocol conforms to Session Initiation Protocol In preferred embodiments, said second protocol is an application layer protocol.
Preferably, said second protocol conforms to an Internet mail transfer protocol.
Thus, SIP messages can be addressed to an existing address identifier, for example and e-mail address identifier constructed in accordance with Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and translated to a corresponding SIP address identifier for transmission to a SIP user agent server regardless of whether the SIP address identifier is known to the user. Thus, the present invention enables messages to be readily diverted from a SIP defined destination URL address identifier to a corresponding SMTP defined destination URL address identifier for the same user or end system. In this way users may send SIP messages to SMTP address identifiers using the SMTP network protocol and infrastructure and SMTP messages to SIP address identifiers using the SIP network protocol and infrastructure.
According to another aspect of the invention there is provided a software program for implementing said method.
According to a further aspect of the invention there is provided a system for processing control messages constructed in accordance with a first communications protocol for use in a communications network, each control message including a first address identifier having a format defined by said first protocol; said system comprising:
The invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
With reference to the drawings, typical signalling sequences are shown in
With reference now to
A typical SIP GUI is shown in
The SIP message constructor is configured to process data entered into any one of the boxes 314, 316, 320, 320 and construct a SIP message including the relevant request type for transmission to an appropriate SIP network server. For example, the message constructor copies the text entered in the text box 314 to the SIP message header type “To:” in the SIP message being constructed. Other header types are determined by the message constructor such as “Content-type:” and “Content length:” for example.
The user agent client program is configured to initiate a SIP session or “call” and the user agent server program is configured to respond to a call. In this regard the user agent client program implements the SIP request methods Invite, Options, Bye, Cancel and Register, and the user agent server implements the methods Invite, Bye, Cancel and Ack methods. Messages are passed from the user agent client to the network interface 210 for transmission to the intended callee associated with the destination SIP URL address. SIP messages are received at the destination end by the network interface and are processing by the user agent server. The media module 208 provides the necessary API's for sending system calls to appropriate media applications for processing different media types once a SIP session has been established.
When a user wishes to initiate a SIP session, the user interacts with the GUI 202 to construct a SIP Invite message including a destination SIP or e-mail address. Once all the necessary data has been input to the GUI, including the SIP header types and message body, the message processor constructs an appropriate SIP message for transmission to the callee. In the event that the callee's SIP URL address is unknown to the user, the user inputs the callee's SMTP e-mail address in the text box 316. The e-mail address is then sent to the SIP URL generator 214.
The SIP URL generator 214 comprises a software program for generating a SIP URL address identifier from a respective SMTP e-mail address identifier for a respective user.
The SIP URL generator is configured to process the e-mail address identifier, in accordance with a set of pre-determined rules, to generate a corresponding SIP URL address identifier for the callee. In one arrangement, the e-mail address is processed by the SIP URL generator which adds a prefix address component to the existing e-mail address components “user@host” etc. The prefix address component identifies the communications protocol that the new URL is to be used with. In this embodiment “sip” is added as a prefix. A suffix address component is also added to identify a SIP domain name authority the newly generated SIP URL address identifier is to be identified with. In one example the SIP URL generator is configured to process the SMTP e-mail address “firstname.lastname@example.org” to derive the SIP URL address identifier “sip:email@example.com”, that is to say, to add the protocol prefix “sip” and the domain suffix “sipit.com” to the existing SMTP readable e-mail address “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Thus, the SIP URL generator is configured to generate SIP URL address identifiers by processing a respective address identifier constructed in accordance with the Internet e-mail communications protocol SMTP. In another example the SIP URL generator is configured to process the same SMTP e-mail address identifier to derive the SIP URL address identifier “sip:email@example.com”, that is to say a geographical identifier “uk” is additionally added to the SMTP e-mail address identifier. The additional geographic identifier may assist scalability of the name space and hence network routing efficiency of the resulting SIP message, for example.
Referring now to
Each SIP to SMTP e-mail gateway 414 comprises an SMTP e-mail address generator 418 and a message processor 420 which comprises an SMTP user agent. The e-mail address generator comprises software for generating an SMTP address identifier from a SIP URL address identifier. In this regard the e-mail address generator is configured in a similar but reverse manner to the address generator 214. The e-mail address generator is configured to process the SIP URL destination address identifier of an out going SIP message to derive a corresponding SMTP e-mail address identifier. The e-mail address generator processes the SIP URL address in accordance with the same pre-determined set of rules as the SIP address generator 214, but processes these rules in reverse order with respect to the address generator 214. For instance, in one embodiment a SIP message arriving at the SIP to SMTP e-mail gateway 414 is parsed to determine the destination SIP URL. The SIP URL is then passed to the SIP to e-mail address generator 418. The remaining part of the SIP message is re-formatted by the message processor 420 into SMTP format suitable for transmission as an SMTP e-mail message.
In one embodiment the address generator 418 is programmed in accordance with the above set of rules, that is to say to remove the protocol identifier prefix “sip” from the SIP URL address and to remove the sip domain suffix component “sipit.com”. The address generator sends the re-formatted SMTP address identifier to the message processor where the newly derived SMTP address is added to the re-formatted message as the destination SMTP address for that message. The message processor adds the newly generated SMTP address to the SMTP “To:” header field of a respective SMTP message. For example, the address generator 418 is programmed to derive the SMTP e-mail address identifier firstname.lastname@example.org from SIP URL “sip:email@example.com .sipit.com”.
The message processor 420 constructs an appropriate SMTP message for transmission to the newly generated SMTP address according to the content of the respective SIP control message. For example, the SIP message payload, for example the SDP message component of the SIP message, is added as text to the respective SMTP message body for transmission to the respective destination SMTP address. In the example described with reference to
With reference now to the flow diagram of
The SIP message is transmitted to the appropriate local SIP network server 408,410 or 412 in step 508 to be relayed or re-directed to a network server associated with the destination SIP URL address. The network server that receives the SIP message queries its associated location database 110 in step 510, using DNS or other address resolution means, to determine the network server the SIP message should be transmitted to. In step 512 a network server having authority for the domain for the destination SIP URL determines whether the destination SIP URL address is a valid network address, that is to say, whether the SIP URL address has been allocated by the domain authority to a SIP user. The SIP URL destination address is a valid network address if it can be resolved by a location database using DNS or other resolution means to a respective numerical IP address, for example. In this respect address resolution may involve querying other location databases associated with other network SIP servers or SIP domains in a similar way that DNS resolves numerical IP addresses. In step 514, if the destination SIP URL address is valid, that is to say it has been allocated to a respective user and can be resolved, the location server returns the IP address of the next SIP server that is configured to relay or re-direct the message or if appropriate the IP address of the end system currently associated with the destination SIP URL. The SIP message is sent to the next SIP network server or destination end system in step 516. If the SIP URL is invalid, that is to say it has not been allocated by the appropriate domain authority for use in the network, an appropriate SIP network server transmits the SIP message to an associated SIP to SMTP e-mail gateway in step 516. The destination SIP URL may be invalid for instance because it was automatically generated from a known e-mail address identifier in step 504 and no corresponding SIP address exists. Under these circumstances the message processor 420 re-formats the SIP message to an SMTP message for communication over the Internet 406 in accordance with SMTP in step 518. In step 520 the destination. SIP URL address is processed by the address generator 418 in step 520 to derive the SMTP e-mail address encapsulated within the SIP URL address. Additional information and data is added to the re-formatted SMTP e-mail message in step 522 including, for example the text:
The SMTP message is sent to an associated mail transfer agent 416 in step 524 for transmission to the e-mail address derived in step 520 using the SMTP network protocol. In step 526 the sender is informed by the SIP server that the destination SIP URL was not valid and that the message was instead re-formatted according to SMTP and sent to the SMTP e-mail address derived in step 520.
It will be seen that the other embodiments of the present invention could be readily implemented by the skilled person, for instance instead of the SIP message being diverted to a SIP to e-mail gateway in the event that the destination SIP URL address is invalid, a SIP message could be readily diverted to a SIP to e-mail gateway if the user or the end system associated with the user was unavailable or unwilling to receive SIP messages at the time of message transmission. In one embodiment, the respective SIP server selects an appropriate message from an associated message library (not shown) for inclusion with the original SIP message in step 522. The message library includes a respective delivery failure message for each SIP message delivery failure mode, including for example, destination SIP user agent unavailable, user unavailable, network connection failure, user unwilling to join SIP session or user unwilling to join designated sessions, user will be available at <time, date>, etc.
It will also be seen that in other embodiments the SIP to e-mail gateway 414 could be readily implemented in other network devices such as a respective network SIP server or a SIP user agent.