Browse Prior Art Database

A Universal Data Transport Method

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000013855D
Original Publication Date: 1999-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-18
Document File: 5 page(s) / 36K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

O'Connor, LJ: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Disclosed is a universal method for transport of data between two or more connected end systems. Computer networks are used to transport data between two or more connected end systems. On each end system it can broadly be distinguished between those components of the system that are used to transport the data, and those components that are used to process the data. In general the transport components handle data as an uninterpreted byte stream, while the processing components, such as an application like a browser, interpret the data as structured information that specifies attributes of the data such as whether the data represent a database entry, or machine code, or a HTML page for example. Exchanging data between communicating end systems using self-descriptive message formats is another common and widely used technique to handle data structures which are not necessarily known when establishing the communication channel. The main disadvantage of these techniques is that they require an implicit understanding between the sender and the receiver as to how to interpret the information being communicated. This is often done in a proprietary and application-specific manner so that general interoperability between any sender and any receiver cannot be achieved. The common solution to converting data between a format for processing and a format for transport is to use an abstract syntax. The abstract syntax describes, in a machine-independent manner, the data structures (the relation of one piece of data to another) and the values assumed by the data. Another specification, called the encoding rules, indicates how data described by some abstract syntax are converted into a byte stream suitable for transmission. A commonly used abstract syntax is ASN.1 [X208], and a commonly used set of encoding rules are the Basic Encoding Rules (BER) [X209]. For the remainder of the disclosure the attention is restricted to ASN.1/BER without loss of generality.

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A Universal Data Transport Method

Disclosed is a universal method for transport of data between two or more
connected end systems.

Computer networks are used to transport data
between two or more connected end systems. On
each end system it can broadly be distinguished
between those components of the system that are
used to transport the data, and those components
that are used to process the data. In general
the transport components handle data as an
uninterpreted byte stream, while the processing
components, such as an application like a
browser, interpret the data as structured
information that specifies attributes of the
data such as whether the data represent a
database entry, or machine code, or a HTML page
for example.

Exchanging data between communicating end
systems using self-descriptive message formats
is another common and widely used technique to
handle data structures which are not necessarily
known when establishing the communication
channel. The main disadvantage of these
techniques is that they require an implicit
understanding between the sender and the
receiver as to how to interpret the information
being communicated. This is often done in a
proprietary and application-specific manner so
that general interoperability between any sender
and any receiver cannot be achieved.

The common solution to converting data between a
format for processing and a format for transport
is to use an abstract syntax. The abstract
syntax describes, in a machine-independent
manner, the data structures (the relation of one
piece of data to another) and the values assumed
by the data. Another specification, called the
encoding rules, indicates how data described by
some abstract syntax are converted into a byte
stream suitable for transmission. A commonly
used abstract syntax is ASN.1 [X208], and a
commonly used set of encoding rules are the
Basic Encoding Rules (BER) [X209]. For the
remainder of the disclosure the attention is
restricted to ASN.1/BER without loss of
generality.

Given the abstract syntax ASN.1 and a method for
encoding and decoding the abstract data as
specified by BER, it is possible to transmit
information between systems where the underlying
representation of data are quite distinct. For
this reason many protocols (or more to the

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point, the format of the messages that flow
between the participants of the protocol) are
specified in terms of ASN.1. The protocol can be
supported by systems with differing
architectural characteristics and methods of
representing data locally if each end system
supports the relevant BER encoding/decoding
routines that map the data between
machine-independent and machine-dependent
formats. Such an abstract representation of data
is particularly important for security protocols
that use cryptographic operations, since these
operations are highly machine dependent. For
this reason the protocol messages of Kerberos
[Kerb] and the more recent SET (Secure
Electronic Transactions) [SET] protocols are
defined in terms of ASN.1.

Using ASN.1/B...