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SIP - Internet's Next Protocol Led by BEA Systems' WLCP

The Internet's next great protocol

So, when you tie these new core telecom capabilities with the rest of the BEA Platform (WebLogic Server, WebLogic Portal and WebLogic Integration) you have all of the tools to drive out converged services that are:

  • Integrated with existing legacy applications
  • Fully a part of a service-oriented architecture (SOA)
  • Represented to any type of browser or device; otherwise called multichannel delivery
  • Able to provide personalized views of the applications through WebLogic Portal
These combined capabilities represent something that the industry is generally terming a Service Delivery Platform (SDP). In this paradigm, the distinctions among wireless, wireline, VoIP, and Web-based delivery channels are blurred. In fact, these channels now can work together in ways they never could before.

What Is SIP
Simply stated, SIP is a protocol provided by IETF in RFC 3261 that provides signaling capabilities that were once in the purview of protocols such as Signaling System 7 (SS7). SIP has been incorporated into the Java language under JSR-116 (the "SIP Servlet API" - see: www.jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=116). WebLogic SIP Server is an application server that supports the SIP Servlet API. There are marked similarities between SIP Servlets and HTTP Servlets because they share some of the same design and coding principles. In fact, they both extend javax.servlet.GenericServlet. The SIP Servlet specification has a relatively small number of classes, interfaces, and methods, which makes it fairly easy to learn the basics quickly.

SIP's job is to "ping" other devices and essentially do an INVITE message requesting that a conversation be set up between the devices. This is typically called call control - setting up and tearing down media streams such as phone calls. The conversation can be of almost any type and is more a function of the devices than of the SIP protocol. This conversation can be one phone inviting another to open up a voice media stream or it could be a video-enabled application requesting a video media stream. The media stream, known as Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP), is a standardized packet format for delivering audio and video (and other media) over the Internet and is independent of the SIP signaling.

As an example of a call flow, Figure 3 shows the signaling steps that might be used in the normal course of one phone (User Agent in SIP parlance) attempting to establish communication with another phone. Caller A is registered with a registration server and sends an invite to an intermediary proxy server that looks up Caller B's location and uses that information to contact yet another proxy server that will send the request to the physical device with which Caller B is registered. The acknowledgements are passed back and forth and ultimately in step 18 an RTP media stream is set up between the two callers.

SIP Code Example
Listing 1 is an example of a SIP Servlet that sends back a 200 OK response to the SIP MESSAGE request. This example shows the similarities between a SIP Servlet and an HTTP Servlet:

  • Servlets must inherit the base class provided by the API.
  • HTTP Servlets must inherit HttpServlet and SIP Servlets must inherit SipServlet.
  • Methods such as doInvite(), doBye(), and doRegister() must be overridden and implemented.
  • HTTP Servlets have doGet/doPost methods that correspond to GET/POST methods. Similarly, SIP Servlets have do<MessageName> methods that correspond to the method name (in the aforementioned example, the MESSAGE method). Application developers override and implement necessary methods.
The life cycle and management methods (init, destroy) of SIP Servlet are exactly the same as HTTP Servlet. Manipulation of sessions and attributes is also the same. Although this example does not show it, there is a deployment descriptor called sip.xml for a SIP Servlet, which corresponds to web.xml in HTTP Servlets. Application developers and service managers can edit this file to configure applications.

WebLogic SIP Server
Because the WebLogic SIP Server is converged with the WebLogic Application Server, developers and administrators will already be familiar with the scalability, manageability, and programmability of the SIP Server. They can leverage all of the power of Java and J2EE and manage production applications in the same manner that traditional J2EE applications are managed. Figure 4 shows that WebLogic Server hosts the HTTP Servlet container and the SIP Servlet container. Both have full access to all of the core Java and J2EE capabilities implicit to WebLogic Server. An additional benefit is that the latency between operations performed in the SIP Servlet container are minimized because they are in-process with the rest of the application artifacts such as EJBs that might lend business-logic support to the application.

Indeed, without a converged container there is far more complexity because of the additional effort in programming and operating separate environments for signaling functionality and business logic. If you imagine one of the new services, such as "click-for-service-rep," there is a need to integrate with existing operational support systems (OSS), and possibly with billing support systems (BSS). Without the BEA converged container, you would likely need to create three separate SIP, Web, and integration tiers, each having its own set of disparate technologies to learn and manage.

Figure 5 shows how BEA WebLogic Portal, Integration, and SIP Server all work in concert with each other to provide a powerful and unified framework for supporting UI, integration, and next-generation signaling, respectively.

Summary
This article discussed the importance of the SIP protocol in developing new types of applications that were never before practical when traditional telecom capabilities were not within reach of enterprise developers. Because it opens up so many possibilities for next-generation collaborative applications, many believe that SIP is truly the next great Internet protocol. The Java community has an API - the SIP Servlet API (JSR-116) - that provides a blueprint for developing SIP-based applications. Now, BEA provides an enterprise-grade SIP Server that is unique in its scalability and manageability. Also, because of the converged SIP + J2EE container, BEA offers the power and flexibility of both SIP and J2EE to enterprise developers. Finally, BEA's SIP Server ties into the entire BEA WebLogic Platform, thus providing developers with a unified application development framework for easier, faster, and more cost-effective development. For more detail on the BEA WLCP release, please see www.bea.com/framework.jsp?CNT=index.htm&FP=/content/products/wlcom/ .

More Stories By Pat Shepherd

Pat Shepherd has been an active member of the Java revolution since its inception in 1995. He has written for several magazines and was a technical editor for the Sams book BEA WebLogic Platform 7. He has worked at BEA for more than five years and is currently a global account architect who spreads the Java/SOA message everywhere he goes.

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Most Recent Comments
Emmanuel Proulx 05/30/06 02:49:19 PM EDT

Actually, you should correct your title. BEA isn't leading SIP. SIP has started by companies like Ubiquity Software and Dynamicsoft. What you should say is that BEA is one of the companies which implemented the SIP Servlet API specification. They'are also involved in the next version of the spec, but so is Ubiquity and others.

WebLogic Journal New Desk 10/15/05 10:23:16 AM EDT

SIP - Internet's Next Protocol Led by BEA Systems' WLCP
This article will demonstrate the value of a communication platform not just for telecoms, but also for any company developing enterprise-wide applications. BEA has entered the communication platform space in a very big way with its release of the BEA WebLogic Communication Platform (WLCP).

WebLogic Journal New Desk 10/14/05 11:51:20 AM EDT

SIP - Internet's Next Protocol Led by BEA Systems' WLCP. This article will demonstrate the value of a communication platform not just for telecoms, but also for any company developing enterprise-wide applications. BEA has entered the communication platform space in a very big way with its release of the BEA WebLogic Communication Platform (WLCP).

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