US 20080049909 A1
A message retrieval subsystem comprises a voice extensible mark-up language browser, a message server, and a message library. The VXML browser is configured with an application programming interface that enables a subscriber of a distributed voice messaging service to request a stored message. The message server receives a request to open a connection from a client process operative on the voice extensible mark-up language browser, spawns a thread to enable the connection, uses the thread to queue one or more subscriber requests for respective blocks of audio information, removes and processes the one or more subscriber requests, and uses the thread to forward a retrieved block of audio information to a subscriber. The message library is coupled to the message server and interposed between the message server and a common message store. The upper library isolates the VXML browser from a streaming protocol used to access the stored message.
1. A method for providing streaming audio information in a distributed voice messaging system, the method comprising:
providing a voice extensible mark-up language browser on a media server, the voice extensible mark-up language browser including an application programming interface;
providing a message server on a document server communicatively coupled to the media server through the application programming interface and a common message store configured with message information;
receiving a request to open a connection between the voice extensible mark-up language browser and the message server;
spawning a connection thread for processing a subsequent request for message information stored in the common message store;
receiving the subsequent request for message information;
using the connection thread to queue the subsequent request;
using a worker thread to remove and process the subsequent request; and
using the connection thread to forward a response to the voice extensible mark-up language browser.
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caching information in the message library.
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This application is a continuation of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/170,459 which was filed on Jun. 29, 2005 under the title of MESSAGE DURABILITY AND RETRIEVAL IN A GEOGRAPHICALLY DISTRIBUTED VOICE MESSAGING SYSTEM, which application claims priority to U.S. provisional application entitled, “MESSAGE DURABILITY AND RETRIEVAL,” filed on Jun. 30, 2004 and assigned application No. 60/584,046, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
This application is related to co-pending U.S. utility patent application entitled “Distributed IP Architecture For Telecommunications System,” filed on Mar. 15, 2005 and accorded application Ser. No. 11/080,744, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
Systems and methods that relate generally to voice messaging are invented and disclosed. More particularly, systems and methods for managing messages communicated using a voice messaging architecture with geographically distributed components.
2. Related Art
Over the past several decades, voice mail has continued to expand and establish itself as a key element in the successful operations of most businesses. Some voice mail systems consist of components that communicate with each other on the client side of a public switched telephone network (PSTN) and thus, have been geographically co-located. This can be a great disadvantage for companies that have geographically dispersed offices.
In today's global economy, even small businesses may have a need for multiple offices for serving clients, interacting with vendors, or various other reasons. Presently available wide area networks including the Internet support email, video conferencing and other products that allow dispersed business sites appear more seamless and integrated. In addition, wired and wireless telephonic networks provide network-based voice mail services that are used by small business and personal consumers to communicate with others wherever they may be located. Other telecommunication products have been developed to provide voice mail service to small businesses, and other institutions such as schools, hospitals, government offices, and the like. These other telecommunication products generally include local voice message storage.
However, a significant problem that still exists for geographically dispersed offices is providing a telephonic system that operates as a single, co-located system while still serving the specialized needs of the various offices. Establishing a separate data storage facility at each office can be a costly endeavor as duplicative hardware must be purchased and maintained at each site. Furthermore, logistics for enabling inter-office voice mail access can become complex.
A centralized storage facility could reduce cost and provide a seamless voice mail platform. However, integrating a centralized storage facility for voice messages across a geographically disperse enterprise is problematic because of system latency when processing voice messages between remotely located sites. One component of system latency is the time it takes to identify the particular storage medium where the message was stored and correctly position a read/write mechanism proximal to the identified medium. System latency is also affected by the speed and capacity of the underlying network or networks used to couple remotely located sites to the central storage facility.
System latency presents a new challenge. On the one hand, the subscriber desires a reliable and accurate retrieval and playback of a previously stored voice message. On the other hand, requiring the subscriber to wait for delivery of the entirety of the stored voice message prior to initiating playback of the voice message is not desirable. Accordingly, further improvements to geographically disperse voice mail systems are desired.
An embodiment of a message retrieval subsystem that provides streaming audio in a distributed voice messaging system comprises a voice extensible mark-up language browser, a message server, and a message library. The message server receives a request to open a connection from a client process operative on the voice extensible mark-up language browser, spawns a thread to enable the connection, uses the thread to queue one or more subscriber requests for respective blocks of audio information, removes and processes the one or more subscriber requests, and uses the thread to forward a retrieved block of audio information to a subscriber. The message library comprises an upper library and a lower library. The upper library is communicatively coupled to the message server, interposed between the message server and the lower library, and isolates the voice extensible mark-up language browser from a streaming protocol used to access a stored message.
Related methods of operation are also provided. An embodiment of a method for providing streaming audio information in a distributed voice messaging system comprises providing a voice extensible mark-up language browser on a media server, providing a message server on a document server communicatively coupled to the media server and a common message store configured with message information, receiving a request to open a connection between the voice extensible mark-up language browser and the message server, spawning a connection thread for processing a subsequent request for information stored in the common message store, receiving the subsequent request for information, using the connection thread to queue the subsequent request, using a worker thread to remove and process the subsequent request, and using the connection thread to forward a response to the voice extensible mark-up language browser.
Other features and advantages of the systems and methods for message durability and retrieval will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. All such additional features and advantages are within the scope of the systems and methods for message durability and retrieval in a geographically distributed messaging system as protected by the accompanying claims.
The systems and methods for message durability and retrieval can be better understood with reference to the following figures. The components within the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of message durability and retrieval in a geographically distributed messaging system. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.
Various embodiments of a distributed messaging system that provides functionality to support modern small or large office business settings with telecommunication system options, such as call forwarding, auto-attendant, voice mail, voice messaging, etc. will be described with respect to
An exemplary embodiment of a message retrieval subsystem comprises a media server, a document server, and the common message store. A message server resides on the document server. The message server acquires voice information blocks by invoking functions provided by a message library. The message server also supplies a socket connection for the VXML browser operative within the media server. The VXML browser receives the voice information blocks through the socket connection. The message library exposes the common message store to the message server while hiding the streaming protocol from the VXML browser. The message library comprises an upper library and a lower library. The multi-layered architecture of the message library enables the integration of multiple message stores with the document server.
Having described the general structure and operation of an exemplary message retrieval subsystem, various embodiments of the underlying distributed messaging system will be described with respect to
Media server 120 couples the distributed messaging system 100 to one or more networks. Document server 160, located remotely from the media server 120, manages storage of voice messages in common message store 170. The complexities of interfacing to telecommunications networks such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) 115 are handled through a signaling gateway function (SGF) 117 coupled between media server 120 and PSTN 115 with SigTran protocol used in the link between media server 120 and SGF 117 and signaling system 7 (SS7) is used to perform out-of-band signaling in support of the call-establishment, billing, routing, and information-exchange functions between SGF 117 and PSTN 115. As illustrated in
A voice over IP (VOIP) gateway 133 integrates the media server 120 with a modular voice processor 130 or other devices that use session initiation protocol (SIP). Access control 107 manages the complexities of integrating multiple media servers 120 with Internet protocol (IP) network 105. When a single media server 120 is used, a communication link using SIP, SigTran, or the H.323 messaging protocols couples media server 120 to IP network 105. One or more automatic-speech recognition (ASR) modules 135 and one or more text-to-speech (TTS) conversion modules are coupled to media server 120 to enable both audio and text input and output to/from distributed messaging system 100. A voice over IP (VOIP) gateway 133 integrates the media server 120 with a modular voice processor 130 or other devices that use session initiation protocol (SIP). A simplified protocol is used for communications between the remaining components of the distributed messaging system.
Voice extensible markup language (VoiceXML or VXML) is one mode of communication between media server 120 and remotely located document server 160. VXML, which uses hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to communicate information in packets, allows a user to interact with devices coupled to IP networks using voice-recognition technology. Instead of a traditional graphical user interface based browser, VXML relies on a voice browser and/or any of a plethora of voice-based devices such as telephones, mobile phones and combination devices. Instead of a traditional browser that relies on a keyboard and a mouse, VXML relies on a voice browser and a voice-based device. Using VXML, the user interacts by listening to audio output that is either pre-recorded or synthesized and submits input through the user's natural speaking voice or a touch-tone keypad. VXML is designed for creating audio dialogs that feature synthesized speech, digitized audio, and recognition of spoken and dual-tone multiple frequency encoded inputs, recording of voice messages, and mixed conversations. As will be explained in further detail below, VXML HTTP requests are communicated from media server 120 to document server 160, which manages the storage, confirmation, and retrieval of voice messages saved in common message store 170.
Application server 150, coupled to document server 160 and Internet 155, provides a mechanism for subscribers of the distributed messaging system and third-parties with proper access privileges to access previously stored voice messages from common message store 170.
Messages are durable when once a subscriber records a message in a VXML session, the message is saved and accessible via a common message store remotely located from the subscriber despite media server 120 failures, document server 160 failures and wide area network service outages. This is accomplished because message storage from a local data store to the remotely located common message store can be asynchronous. That is, the subscribing caller does not need to wait on-the-line for acknowledgement of a successful transfer of the message. Because the common message store comprises an array of disks, the messages and metadata stored therein can survive numerous device failures and request restarts for transfers of message blocks.
As further illustrated in
Sender 140 communicates requests to document server 160 via simple object access protocol (SOAP). Sender 140 provides a socket connection for VXML browser 224. The socket connection can be accessed by multiple languages using multiple computing platforms. Request information transferred to the document server 160 includes attachment file path and name, message type identifier, message status identifier, time for delivery, originator identifier, and identifiers for one or more recipients. Sender 140 is configured to save the request including message request delivery state information into local data store 220, send message header information (metadata) together with the attachment file to the document server 160, delete the request and delivery information when the message has been successfully delivered to the document server 160, and retry delivery for messages that are not successfully delivered.
Document server 160 comprises receiver 262, message server 264, message manager 266, unified message service 280, layered service provider server 268, and application 270. Receiver 262 is configured to receive the SOAP requests from sender 140, retrieve the message information and attachments, invoke the unified message service to create a Java message service message and save the created message in message server 264 persistently. Receiver 262 is further configured to handle SOAP fault reporting when data transfer errors occur. Unified message service 280 communicates with message server 264 via connector 285. Message server 264 provides persistent storage to the message and related data on the document server 160, asynchronous message delivery, ensures once-and-only-once delivery of the message to the common message store 170, and deletes the message when the message has been successfully stored in the common message store 170. Message manager 266 gets messages from the message server 264, then forwards them to the common message store 170 using the link provided by the unified message service application interface and the layered service provider server 268. Message manager 266 is configured to status the message server 264 regarding whether the message was successfully delivered to the common message store 170. Message manager 266 is further configured to retry message delivery for messages that were not successfully uploaded and integrated with the common message store 170.
Two approaches for providing message attachment are contemplated. The first approach is that the attachment content of the SOAP message received by the receiver 262 is delivered to the message server 264 together with the header information or metadata as one Java message service compatible message without writing to an intermediate file. Using this approach, the receiver 262 and the message server 264 have the flexibility to be distributed so that any document server is able to deliver a message stored in the message server 264 to the common message store.
The alternative approach is that the attachment content of the SOAP message received by receiver 262 is saved into a file, then the file name and message metadata are delivered to the message server 264. Using this approach, the message server 264 handles text data only.
Application server 270, interposed between unified message service 280 and VXML browser 224, exposes previously stored messages to one or more subscribers communicatively coupled to media server 120.
Layered service provider server 268 provides a robust, efficient and scalable message and subscriber preference adjustable service. Connector 285 communicates with layered service provider server 268 via Internet Inter-ORB protocol (IIOP). Upper library 312 is a high-level application interface that encapsulates device-specific logic in lower library 314. Upper library 312 includes multiple functions for supporting messaging services. Lower library 314 uses a peer-to-peer protocol to communicate with storage device 360, storage device 362, and storage device 368 and additional storage devices (not shown) under the management and control of common message store 170.
In operation, subscriber 405 initiates a call with a telephone 410 at a location coupled to PSTN 115. The call is established over PSTN 115 and terminated by media server 120, which provides the telephony interface between PSTN 115 and distributed messaging system 100. Message deposit application 222, operable within media server 120, generates a new filename for the message about to be recorded and collects or otherwise generates new metadata 432 in accordance with one or more identifiers used to classify or otherwise describe the nature of the call, subscriber, and the voice message. Metadata 432 is associated with the filename.
The message deposit application 222 addresses the VXML browser 224, sender 140, file system 226, and local data store 228 to ensure the media server 120 is prepared to record the voice message. If any of these devices reports a non-ready condition to the message deposit application 222, the message deposit application 222 immediately informs the subscriber 405 that a system failure has occurred that the message cannot be recorded and aborts the recording process. Otherwise, if each of the media server devices is ready, voice message 434 is recorded and temporarily stored within media server 120. Thereafter, the subscriber 405 can access other system functions or terminate the call without waiting for acknowledgment that the voice message 434 has been saved in the common message store 170.
The message deposit application 222 in accordance with a self-generated initialization trigger or an externally generated signal forwards a request to sender process 440 to forward the data to remotely located document server 160. Sender process 440 accepts the request 444, saves the request 444 and metadata 442 in a local database, and forwards the request 444 via an IP based network to a receiver associated with the document server 160. The document server 160, in turn saves a received copy of metadata 462 and message 464 in a common data store 170 (not shown).
Method 600 begins with block 602 where a call, originated by a subscriber of the distributed voice messaging system 100 (
Metadata associated with the voice message includes storage location, type, caller, session, urgency, and confidentiality identifiers. The local storage location identifier contains an absolute path and filename of the data file on local file system 226. The type identifier indicates whether the processed message is a voice or a fax message. The caller identifier indicates a subscriber identification if the message depositor is a subscriber of the system. Otherwise, the caller is identified as a “guest.” The session identifier indicates a depositor session identification. The urgency identifier indicates whether the associated message is a high priority message or a standard priority message that may be processed and addressed in due course. The confidentiality identifier indicates whether the message is designated for access to a limited number of recipients. Metadata associated with the voice message also identifies the message sender and one or more message recipients.
Additional and optional metadata associated with a voice message may include information indicative of a preferred date and time for delivery. When not associated with the message the media server 120 is configured to periodically initiate the transfer of a new message to common message store 170.
Conditional metadata is also associated with some messages processed by the distributed messaging system 100. For example, conditional metadata identifies when the stored voice message is a comment referring to an attached forwarded message. In addition to a forwarded message identifier, conditional metadata includes forwarded message note and dictation length identifiers. The forwarded message identifier is the message identifier associated with the forwarded voice message. The forwarded message note identifier is a separate identifier associated with a note or comment regarding the forwarded message. The dictation length identifier indicates the length of the forwarded message associated with the note.
As indicated in block 708, the common message store prepares space for the new voice message designated for integration in common message store 170. Next, as shown in block 710 and query block 712, common message store 170 requests message content using a block-by-block repetitive process until the entire message has been delivered via the document server 160 and received in the common message store 170. Once the entire message has been received, common message store 170 sends an acknowledgement that the entire message has been received, as shown in block 714. The acknowledgement issued from the common message store 170 is received and forwarded by document server 160 as shown in block 716. The acknowledgement received by document server 160 is forwarded to the media server 120 as shown in block 718. The acknowledgement received by media server 120 confirms that the voice message has been successfully stored and integrated with common message store 170. In an alternate embodiment, polling for new messages in the local data store 228 associated with the media server 120 may be performed by software or firmware operable within the document server 160 or by an application in communication with document server 160. In this way, one or more remotely located devices can be configured to monitor multiple media servers.
The message manager receives the message from the message server and forwards the message to a unified message service application interface, which in turn forwards the message via a LSP server that deposits the message in the common message store 170. Once the common message store has successfully deposited the message, an acknowledgement message identified by the associated message identifier is forwarded to the message server via the LSP server, unified message service application interface and message manager, in that order. In response, the message server deletes the message and associated metadata.
When the request is for a greeting, the upper library 312 responds to the request by issuing a get greeting message data process. If the greeting message data is not present in the upper library 312, the upper library 312 forwards a request to get the greeting message data from the lower or second library 314. The upper library 312 caches the greeting message data returned from the lower library 314. Thereafter, the upper library 312 uses the cached greeting message data to issue a request for a voice block that includes the greeting. Not illustrated but implied by the datagram, the lower library 314 responds by forwarding the identified voice block from the common message store which is returned to the VXML browser 224 via the upper library 312, and message server 264.
As indicated by flow control arrow “1” in
As further indicated in the diagram of
The flow diagrams of
The operational software programs that may be used by the various devices of the distributed messaging system 100, as well as operational software that may be used in conjunction with the VXML browser, telephonic devices, and applications that interface with distributed messaging system 100, which comprise an ordered listing of executable instructions for implementing logical functions, can be embodied in any computer-readable medium for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device, such as a computer-based system, processor-containing system, or other system that can fetch the instructions from the instruction execution system, apparatus, or device and execute the instructions. In the context of this document, a “computer-readable medium” can be any means that can contain, store, communicate, propagate, or transport the program for use by or in connection with the instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.
The computer-readable medium can be, for example but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system, apparatus, device, or propagation medium. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer-readable medium would include the following: an electrical connection (electronic) having one or more wires, a portable computer diskette (magnetic), a random access memory (RAM) (magnetic), a read-only memory (ROM) (magnetic), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory) (magnetic), an optical fiber (optical), and a portable compact disc read-only memory (CDROM) (optical). Note that the computer-readable medium could even be paper or another suitable medium upon which the program is printed, as the program can be electronically captured, via, for instance, optical scanning of the paper or other medium, then compiled, interpreted or otherwise processed in a suitable manner if necessary, and then stored in a computer memory.
While various embodiments of the message retrieval subsystem systems and associated methods have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of the accompanying claims. Accordingly, the systems and methods for message retrieval are not to be restricted beyond the attached claims and their equivalents.