MediationZone Key Concepts

MediationZone's component based architecture is built around the following concepts:

Process modeling and configuration

MediationZone provides flexibility through configuration. Its high-level graphical environment delivers a complete set of configurable tools to meet any business and technology requirement of a service provider.

Scaled Runtime environment

MediationZone configuration and control logic is centrally managed while execution can be distributed to any number of nodes in a network. Hardware independency and distributed design ensures scalability with any combination of high-end servers and commodity hardware.

Core functionality

MediationZone includes a comprehensive set of supporting features to ensure effective management and operation of the system and usage data.

Open architecture

Open APIs enable compliance with latest development in protocols and new industry requirements through both peripheral and core extensions to the platform.

Process Modeling and Configuration

Workflows are the cornerstones of process modeling and configuration in MediationZone. A workflow is a set of nodes that are referred to as agents. Processing models are visualized by connecting agents to each other using our drag and drop GUI.

The workflows contain three types of agents:

  • Collection agents are responsible for gathering data into the workflow from any data source or the client of a bi-directional real-time flow. An example of a simple collection agent could be one that reads a file from disk and sends the file contents into the workflow.
  • Processing agents delivers data on one or many outgoing routes. A processing agent could be as simple as a counter that counts the throughput of usage data. It could also be more complex in that it evaluates the data, and depending on the result delivers, it on different routes. Amongst the processing agents, so called transformer agents, can be identified. A transformer agent is responsible for translating an incoming byte stream into a CDR object or the opposite. For file distribution the Encoder Agent can be used to create header/trailer records containing meta-data of the file, e.g. record counter, check sum etc. This is commonly referred to as Decoding and Encoding, which the MediationZone Ultra format system will handle.
  • Forwarding agents are responsible for distributing the data from the workflow to other systems or devices. An example of a forwarding agent could be one that creates a file from a data stream and transfers it to another system using FTP.Workflow

Workflows may be inter-linked into mediation tasks of virtually any complexity, where the output of one Workflow is the input of another. Agents specifically designed for this purpose minimize the overhead related to inter-workflow processing; this contributes to the superior performance of MediationZone.

There are three different types of workflows, that each have a different execution behavior, but their modeling and configuration structure is the same.

  • Batch workflows – Are used to collect process and distribute file-based data, also referred to as an Offline model. Batch Workflows can be configured for multi-threaded execution, enforcing a first-in-first-out processing order and a strict transaction boundary based on each batch processed.
  • Real-time workflows – Enables Online processing of requests/answers with other systems. These Workflows use multi-threading technology to enable execution of large numbers of independent execution paths simultaneously.
  • Task workflows – Used to execute common activities such as cleanup or maintenance tasks. A number of System Tasks are pre-configured in MediationZone and can be complemented with any user-defined activity.

The workflow configuration is used to design and configure workflows, by adding agents and connecting them to each other.Example_of_Batch_Workflow_configuration

Workflows that are conceptually related can be grouped together. This enables the setting of common execution or monitoring characteristics on all elements in a group, such as execution scheduling for Workflow Groups or selection of execution environment for Workflows and Workflow Groups.

Workflow and Workflow Group functions include, among other things:

Scheduling

Workflows Groups can be scheduled for execution periodically, on specific occasions or as a result of a trigger of an event within the MediationZone system.

Distributed execution

A workflow or a group of workflows can be directed to execute on a particular execution node, or it can automatically be distributed to a node with the lowest load or lowest number of active Workflows.

Suspend execution

For a period of time a workflow or a group can be suspended from executing as scheduled.

Version handling

All versions of workflows and workflow groups are saved during configuration, and it is possible to view and rollback to any previous version.

Table configuration

Workflows with the same structure can easily be multiplied in a table-based view, where the user selects which parameters that should be possible to define per workflow.

External References

External References enables loading MediationZone with configuration values that originate from a properties file that is external to the Workflow configuration.

This allows MediationZone system administrators to have specific files on test and production servers, and when an export is made from the test deployment, no changes are necessary when deploying the configuration to the production installation.

Meta Information Model (MIM)

Upon configuration, the workflow and its agents provides runtime attributes called Meta Information Model or MIMs, which can be fetched and distributed to other parts of the system. MIMs can be both static and dynamic. Examples of MIM values are, for example, agent names and names of collected files.

Encryption

As with all configurations, also Workflows and workflow groups can be saved encrypted. In such case, read or write access to encrypted configurations is only possible if a correct password is provided.


Scaled Runtime environment

MediationZone centralizes the control logic and distributes execution, and thus addresses the two main problems areas related to vertical- and horizontal scaling architectures:

  • Vertical scaling can lead to CPU contention where the scalability of a centralized architecture is limited to the number of plug-in processors supported by the hardware vendor. MediationZone offers virtually unlimited scalability by its support for any number of collaborating networked servers.
  • Horizontal scaling can lead to inconsistent maintenance of a distributed architecture when code and data potentially reside on a large number of servers. MediationZone supports automatic, on-demand distribution of code and configuration to servers configured to be part of the installation, thus reducing operation and maintenance efforts and ensuring a consistent configuration store.

Logically, the MediationZone platform is layered into three different zones:Our Scale Out Architecture

  • Access Zone is the maintenance layer where users access the system through the graphical user interfaces or CLI, Command Line Interface. This zone provides the necessary operations and maintenance functionality and tools to manage, control and operate the platform.
  • Control Zone is hosting configurations of the system, used by the runtime environment, and controls all aspects of a distributed installation. Services within this zone can be distributed among multiple servers. The Control zone maintains central responsibility of configuration and transactional integrity, ensuring that data is neither lost nor duplicated.
  • Execution Zone is the processing layer providing processing capacity for all mediation tasks deployed in the system i.e. the execution of processing workflows. This layer holds one or several execution contexts, distributed over any number of servers.

Functionality in any of the access, control and execution zones may be distributed over any number of servers, or be deployed on a single server. Distribution across several servers enables deployment of right-sized and cost-effective mediation solutions for optimal hardware utilization.

For example, high-end Unix servers in a clustered environment can be used to manage the control zone. This provides hardware redundancy, transactional integrity and data consistency. Lower-end commodity servers, including blade-based architectures can be used to deploy execution zone to enable cost-efficient, high-speed processing capability without sacrificing availability.

Whenever a workflow is executed according to its scheduling criteria, it is distributed by the Workflow service, located in the Control Zone, to the most appropriate Execution Context in the Execution Zone. The number and type of servers that constitutes an installation can be tailored depending on actual distribution and processing requirements.

The Workflow service uses a configurable load-balancing algorithm to determine which Execution Context is most suitable to receive the execution of the Workflow. Decisions for deploying a Workflow on a specific server may, for example, be either location or hardware dependent. Specific network hardware might be required for the collection subsystem, or improved LAN bandwidth utilization could be achieved by deploying collection and aggregation Workflows close to the network elements.

MediationZone, working in a Fail-safe environment

MediationZone, being a workflow based mediation system, guarantees that all data will be secured in case of a system or a network failure. During Workflow execution, transaction data is exchanged between workflows and platform control servers, in order to maintain transactional integrity, meaning the system will restart at failure point without data loss or duplication.

MediationZone also includes features for record/batch duplicate checking in order to avoid duplicated data due to network elements or human intervention. The duplicate control uses persistent storage so it will not lose track after a system failure. Configuration of checking interval is easily configured from the user interface.

Collected usage data can be secured in four different (optional) ways during Workflow execution:

  • Stored on disk, locally or on networked disk
  • Stored in relational database, locally or accessible over the network
  • Archived centrally in secure storage managed by platform control services
  • Vendor specific backup solutions should be applied for disks and databases.

System redundancy – MediationZone includes the ability to have redundant Workflow processing servers. If a specific server fails, Workflows deployed on that server may automatically be re-directed to an available server. Full transactional integrity enables Workflows to resume execution on the new server at the last recorded transaction point.

Third party high availability solutions may be applied to further ensure system availability.


Core Functionality

There are a number of operations and core functions that complement MediationZone’s rich feature list, configuration and execution architecture. These are part of the core platform and provide the functionality required to maintain the system as well as to monitor and integrate MediationZone with other systems.

Workflow Configuration

A Workflow Configuration is created to design and configure Workflows and Tasks. Tools are also provided to debug and profile Workflows.

Workflow Group Configuration

By creating a Workflow Group Configuration, Workflows can be grouped conceptually to any level of complexity. Common configuration and execution characteristics, such as scheduling and distribution criteria can then be applied collectively to all elements of a group.

System Export and Import

The System Export and Import functionality enables backup of configuration data – full or partial. The Configurations are stored in XML or ZIP archive files. The export and import functionality is also very useful for migrating mediation configuration in between two different installations of MediationZone, such as Development, Production and Test. Exported information can also be protected through a one-way encrypted password.

Internal Version Control

When there are changes made to the configuration of a MediationZone Workflow (or agent), the new configuration is saved as a new version. It is possible to go back to any previous of a Workflow and then save it to become the new current version.  This version can then be modified and saved as a new version.

External Version Control Support

It is possible to use an external Version Control System for storing Configuration artifacts. MediationZone provides a way to export and import configuration from MediationZone into a working copy of the Version Control System. Configurations are stored in a XML format. Changes to the configurations can be diffed/merged using the tools provided by the Version Control System.

Event Notification Configuration

An Event Notification Configuration acts as a receiver/distributor of all messages generated within the MediationZone system. This makes it possible to output customized information and alarms to any target, such as a mail server, SNMP trap, or database table.

Alarm Detection Manager

MediationZone can be configured to proactively monitor any execution characteristics of the system state. If a deviation is detected, an alarm is generated and can trigger a number of different events such as an SMTP trap, or email.

CDR File Configuration

A CDR File Configuration is used to examine and update data files, for example, when creating test data. It includes filtering capabilities making it possible to list a selection of CDR fields.

Execution Manager

The Execution Manager is used to control and monitor all Workflows. Workflows are activated and deactivated, and user-defined views can be created to view runtime information presented in real-time.

Access Control

Access to the system is controlled with user profiles, which are used to control access rights to all parts of the system.

Pico Management

Processes and threads are controlled through the Pico Manager, which can restrict access to certain hosts and monitor the memory and availability status. Pico management also ensures single point of administration from a distributed architecture perspective, where the Pico manages software updates to all distributed execution environments.

Open Architecture

MediationZone is based on an open and multi-layered architecture that enables service providers to rapidly adapt the deployed platform to new business requirements.Multi layered architecture