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The two things needed for software communication are a message transport and a message protocol. A message transport is the physical means to convey a message. Examples of transport mechanisms include Ethernet, shared memory, and the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are examples of wireless transports.
If the source and destination happen to be in the same virtual address space; the transport can be optimized into a set of parameters that are passed in a simple function call. Otherwise communication must take place through a transport facility. Virtually all CORBA implementations automatically recognize when this optimization can be used.
All physical message transports including Ethernet and Wi-Fi just transport bytes. It is left up to the source and destination to agree on a message protocol. The protocol specifies the set of rules for how these messages will be serialized for transport. A protocol could be ad-hoc and unsophisticated or it might have the sophistication necessary for the source and destination to remain oblivious of the distributed nature of the system. This in turn allows the developer to choose the style that best fits the application.
The API4KB RFP indicates that we must support the following architecture styles (although it uses the term platform mappings):
Both CORBA and Java RMI serialize messages in compliance with the Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP) standard. This is a comprehensive standard, which is usually implemented with support from automated tools. On the other hand, web services only specifies the use of XML and leaves up to the software developer(s) to ensure that the source and the destination have the same understanding of the XML content. There are many tools to support this understanding. WSDL specifies that messages will comply to an XML schema. If WSDL is not being used and no XML schema has been specified; the source and destination must at lease have some sort of mutual understanding of an implied schema or else they run the risk that parts of their messages will be lost or misunderstood.
Wide range of direct techniques based on a loosely-coupled two-way exchange via an interface between communicating entities.
Protocols involve pairwise exchange of messages from client to server and from server back to client with the first message containing an encoding of operation to be executed at the server, the second message contains the result (encoded as an array of bytes). Paradigm is rather primitive (in contrast to RPC/RMI) and typically only used for e.g. embedded systems where performance is very important. Approach is also used by e.g. the http protocol.
Examples, e.g. Web Services, stateless REST Web Services, Enterprise Service Bus, …
Resembles RPC in the world of distributed objects.
Distributed Object Middleware, e.g. Java RMI (restricted to Java), OMG Corba (multi-language solution with declarative IDL).
A unit of composition with contractually specified interfaces and explicit content dependencies only. Component is specified in terms of a contract which includes a set of provided interfaces (interfaces that the component offers as a service to other components) and required interfaces (dependencies that this component has on other components). Container provides managed server-side hosting environment for components and deals with the distributed systems and middleware issues.
Examples, e.g. Java Beans, Corba Component Model, API4KB OntoMaven Aspect-Oriented Component Model, …
Indirect decoupled techniques where sender and receiver are time and space uncoupled via an intermediary. Indirect communication between entities in a distributed system through an intermediary with no direct coupling between the sender and the receiver(s), e.g. event routing in publish-subscribe middleware (based e.g. on peer-to-peer), streaming to a cloud, ….
Publish-subscribe with event-based communication through propagation of events (via an underlying overlay network, e.g. structured and unstructured peer-to-peer or other broker overlay). Publishers publish structured events to an event service (responsible for event routing and matching) and subscribers express interest in particular events through subscriptions.
Distributed Event Based Systems with Complex Event Processing (CEP) in Event Processing Agents (EPAs) deployed in Event Processing Networks (EPNs).
Broadcast and multicast.
Examples, e.g. Tuple Spaces, Distributed Shared Memory, Message Queues (e.g., JMS, Active MQ, …)