Distributed and Component Oriented Tools for Communication Networks Using Web Services
Modern communication networks are reaching a high level of complexity. As their global dimensioning and performance evaluation are very hard tasks, a multi-layer approach is generally applied to divide them in smaller problems easier to tackle. Within this approach, tools only address one or two network layers. To perform an enhanced analysis encompassing more layers, several tools, not necessarily available in the same place when the problem arises, are often required. This paper shows how to allow a remote access to various existing tools using Web Services paradigm. In this way, software components modelling network elements, layers, or computing specific functions are turned into Web Services, which are available to remote users over the internet. Accessed through a simplified interface, they can be used sequentially or in parallel to solve a specific task. This dispenses the user to perform a local implementation, allows better code reuse, and offers an easy way to confront results from distinct models. A tool accessed via a web service can be beneficial for either research or educational purposes. Moreover, making tools available on the web increases credibility and visibility of their authors. Calls to Web Service require transmitting and retrieving all input and output data in a specific format. In our approach, the Multilayer Network Description (MND) format is used to describe both input data and computed results. It offers common basic structure while guaranteeing a large extensibility, and thus eases the interactions between related but different tools. The viability of this approach in the context of network planning is illustrated through two examples.