Document title:

Gateway Work Plan

Document number:


Document source:

FIPA Nomadic Application Support

Document status:


Date of this status:


Change history:


Initial draft


Revisions made according to FAB comments


FAB response added (see end)


Updated version (based on FAB requirements); See f-wp-00002


                                                            Heimo Laamanen



The results of current developments in both wireless data communications and mobile computers are being combined to facilitate a new trend: nomadic computing. There are a lot of applications, where users can significantly benefit from nomadic computing.  Examples included electronic commerce, information retrieval, and business processes.


Compared to today’s traditional distributed systems, the nomadic computing environment is very different in many respects. Bandwidth, latency, delay, error rate, quality of display, and other non-functional parameters may change dramatically when a nomadic end-user moves from one location to another and thus from one computing environment to another, e.g. from a wireline LAN to a UMTS network. The variety of mobile workstations, handheld devices and smart phones, which allow nomadic end-users to access Internet services, is increasing rapidly. The capabilities of mobile devices range from very low performance equipment (e.g. PDAs) up to high performance laptop PCs. All these create new demands for adaptability of Internet services. For example, PDAs cannot display properly high quality images, and as nomadic end-users will be charged based on the amount of data transmitted over the GPRS-UMTS network, they will have to pay for bits that are totally useless for them.


Confronted with these circumstances, the nomadic end-user would benefit from having the following functionality provided by the infrastructure: information about expected performance, agents monitoring and controlling the transfer operations, and adaptability.


The ability to automatically adjust to changes mentioned above in a transparent and integrated fashion is essential for nomadicity — nomadic end-users are usually professionals in areas other than computing. Furthermore, today’s mobile computer systems are already very complex to use as productive tools; thus, nomadic end-users need all the support that a FIPA agent-based distributed system could deliver. Adaptability to the changes in the environment of nomadic applications is a very important issue.


FIPA has already addressed some of the problems in its specifications ‘Nomadic Application Support’, however there are still several issues, which need specifications in order to provide interoperability between agents operating in different platforms in the environment of nomadic applications.


Problem Statement: Almost any application in the FIPA environment can be a nomadic application. The nomadic application environment consists of two clearly separate domains: a wireless environment and a fixed network environment. Current FIPA specifications do not define how interoperability can be achieved between agents operating in these two domains, thus implementation specific and propriety solutions are required.


In the following examples of issues relating to interoperability, Agent A operates in the wireless environment and agent B operates in the fixed network environment:

·      Agent A is operating in a mobile host that has an intermittent connection to a fixed network domain.

·      Agent A resides in a mobile host that may change frequently its access point to the fixed network.


In each of the above cases, how do agent A and agent B interact/continue to interact with each other?


Scope: The scope of the work plan is the nomadic application environment: wireless data communications and mobile devices, especially interoperability between the wireless domain and the fixed network domain.


Objective: FIPA has specified that its main objective is interoperability between agents. This work plan supports FIPA’s mission to promote technologies and interoperability specifications to facilitate interworking of agents in the field of nomadic applications.


The objective of this work plan is to create FIPA specifications that define:

·      interoperability of message transport services using different transport protocols and message encoding, and,

·      supporting messaging in the environment of nomadic application.


Technology: The required technology will be obtained by issuing a Call For Technology at the Lisbon meeting. The Call For Technology will include topics such as and support for disconnected mode.


Functionality: The functionalities required to achieve  the objectives above will be investigated and defined.  Functionalities are the following:

·      support for disconnected mode of operation,

·      roaming from one mediator to another one,

·      profiles that specify capabilities of gateways and mobile terminals, and

·      bit-efficient representation of information, including the envelope and the content of the ACL message.


Specifications Generated: This work plan will generate the following specifications (based on the FIPA Abstract Architecture and other relevant FIPA 99 specifications):

·      Components describing solutions to the objectives.

·      Profiles describing the use of these components.


Plan for Work and Milestones: The plan includes the following steps:

·      2000/05 Call for technology (to be negotiated with FIPA Architecture Board)

·      2000/07 Review of proposals

·      2000/07 Nominating a TC to carry out the work

·      2001/04 Preliminary specifications

·      2001/07 Experimental  specifications


The project plan will be reviewed and revised, if and when necessary.


Future Work:


Dependencies: Two types of dependencies have been identified to date: FIPA dependencies and external dependencies. The following dependencies on other FIPA work plans have been identified (so far; list to be updated):

·      [FIPA00001] FIPA Abstract Architecture Specification

·      [FIPA00067] FIPA Agent Message Transport Service Specification

·      [FIPA00066] FIPA Nomadic Application Support Overview Specification


The upcoming specifications should not conflict with any of the specifications mentioned above.


The following dependencies on external standards work, industry events, and other factors have been identified (so far):

·      WAP (in the context of the fipa.mts.mtp.wap.std MTP),

·      W3C (in the context of ontologies and message representations),

·      OMG Agent workgroup and wireless ORB, and,

·      IETF (in the context of MIP).



·      John Shepherdson, BT

·      Steven Willmott, EPFL

·      Markku Tamski, Nokia

·      Michael Berger, Siemens AG

·      Heimo Laamanen and Heikki Helin, Sonera Ltd

·      Stefano Campadello, University of Helsinki


FIPA Architecture Board Response:

This work plan has been assigned to TC Gateway.


The following problems have been identified with this work plan:

·      Appropriateness of parts of this work plan to FIPA, specifically regarding protocol and representation conversion and application data conversion (focus of FIPA is not in specifying the operation, but specifying interfaces).


The FAB have the following requirements to make in approving this work plan:

·      That the protocol/representation conversion is dealt with in the FIPA Developer's guide (converting between IIOP and WAP, for example). This is useful, but not something that should be in the specifications because the conversion algorithms involved do not need to be standardized.

·      That the focus of the work plan is changed to looking at specifying interfaces for disconnected modes of operation. Specifically, targeting the existing FIPA specifications to determine where they are deficient in allowing such operation to be implemented.

·      That this work plan looks at a bit-efficient representation of information, including the envelope and the content of the ACL message.

·      That this work plan looks also at standardising a profile that specifies the capabilities that each gateway and each mobile terminal mush have in order to support the FIPA specifications. Examples of these capabilities are: WAP protocol, bit-efficient codec, FIPA-Agent-Management ontology, SL-0 parser, nomadic-transport ontology, etc.