Underlying Transport over AMQP

Disclaimer

This article is under development and will be subject of further modification after collecting more feedback from software developers and OPC Foundation.

Motivation

The main goal of this document is to provide instruction on how to expand the transport layer for OOI Networking of the Semantic-Data over the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) to be compliant with the specifications mentioned in the section Normative references.

Implementation of the messages exchange over the (AMQP) protocol is out of the scope of this project. The library intentionally is designed to use any transport protocol meeting some basic requirements using external components. External components implementing (AMQP) connectivity can be seamlessly integrated with this SDK using dependency injection concept illustrated by the following domain model:

Figure 1. Domain Model

Instruction for implementer is covered in the section Notices for Implementer.

Normative references

The following documents, in whole or in part, are normatively referenced in this document and are indispensable for its application.

Introduction

AMQP

Architecture

The Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) is an open standard application layer protocol. It is a vendor-neutral and platform-agnostic protocol that offers organizations an easier, more secure approach to passing real-time data streams and business transactions. The goal of AMQP is to ensure information is safely and efficiently transported between applications, among organizations, across distributed cloud computing environments, and within mobile infrastructures. AMQP avoids proprietary technologies, offering the potential to lower the cost of enterprise middleware software integration through open interoperability.

This section briefly summarizes the core concepts of the AMQP and explains how to use AMQP as the transport layer of the PubSub Applications. The goal is that any developer using any existing AMQP 1.0 client stack to be able to provide external, composable implementation of the MessageHandling (figure above) class leveraging interoperability via AMQP.

In this section, it is assumed that the management of AMQP communication are handled by a respective stack, such as AMQP.NET Lite, RabbitMQ.

An AMQP network consists of Nodes connected via links. Nodes are named entities responsible for processing of process data transfered by messages. Messages can originate from, terminate at, or be relayed by nodes. As a message travels through an AMQP network, the responsibility for safe storage and delivery of the message is transferred between the Nodes it encounters.

The link is a unidirectional route between two Nodes. There are two kinds of nodes: sources and targets. Messages only travel along a link if they meet the entry criteria at the source.

As illustrated in the following domain model, Nodes exist within a Container. Container may be implemented as a process carrying out a software program instance. Examples of containers are Broker and Client applications. An example of the Clint is a PubSub Application. Each Container may hold many nodes. Examples of AMQP Nodes are Producer, Consumer, and Queue. Producers and Consumers are the elements within an application that generate and process messages. Queues are entities that store and forward messages.

Class Diagram of Concrete Containers and Nodes

Transport

In order for communication to occur between Nodes in different Containers a connection needs be established. An AMQP connection consists of a full-duplex, reliably ordered sequence of frames. A frame is a stream of bytes carried on the wire. Connections have a negotiated maximum frame size (length of the stream). It is assumed that connections are transient and can fail for a variety of reasons resulting in the loss of an unknown number of frames.

The network connection is thus anchored on the Container. It is initiated by the Container in the client role making an outbound TCP socket connection to a container in the listener role. Listener role can be used to build applications such as P2P service, router, broker and more. The connection handshake includes:

  • negotiating the protocol version;

  • declaring or negotiating the use of Transport Level Security (TLS/SSL),

  • an authentication/authorization handshake at the connection scope that is based on Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL).

After the connection is established, the containers each declare the maximum frame size they are willing to handle, and after an idle timeout they will unilaterally disconnect if there is no activity on the connection.

Security with AMQP is primarily provided by a TLS connection between the Containers. Applications that require end-to-end security with AMQP need to apply security protection defined above the AMQP, e.g. in the OPC.UA.PubSub.

A session forms a bi-directional communication path. Number of sessions must be defined or arbitrary limited.

Connections, channels, and sessions are ephemeral. If the underlying connection collapses they must be reestablished.

Sessions provide a flow control scheme based on the number of frames transmitted. Since frames have a maximum size for a given connection, this provides flow control based on the number of bytes transmitted. A single connection may have multiple independent sessions active simultaneously, up to the negotiated limit.

A link endpoint is associated with a session endpoint. Within a session, the link is used to transfer messages across them. A single session can be simultaneously associated with any number of links. However, a link has not to be attached to more than one session at a time.

Links are named, and the state at the node can live longer than the connection on which they were established. A link is unidirectional. A link is created in a session, identified by a unique name, and attached to a node specified by an address. The link is created inside an AMQP Session and, thanks to the multiplexing feature of AMQP protocol, the same session can be used for many links all inside the same TCP connection.

Once attached, a link is subject to flow control of message transfers. Link endpoints maintain the flow control state, which determines when it is legal to send transfers on an attached link.

A source can restrict the messages transferred from a source by specifying a filter. A filter can be thought of as a function which takes a message as input and returns a boolean value: true if the message will be accepted by the source, false otherwise. A filter must not change its return value for a message unless the state or annotations on the message at the node change (e.g., through an updated delivery state).

Messaging

The AMQP message consists of the following sections:

  • Zero or one header: the Transport headers for a message.

  • Zero or one delivery-annotations: delivery-specific non-standard properties at the head of the message.

  • Zero or one message-annotations: properties of the message which are aimed at the infrastructure and should be propagated across every delivery step.

  • Zero or one properties: immutable properties of the message.

  • Zero or one application-properties: structured application data. Intermediaries can use the data within this structure for the purposes of filtering or routing.

  • The body (application-data): consists of one of the following three choices:

    • one or more data: contains opaque binary data.

    • one or more amqp-sequence: a sequence section contains an arbitrary number of structured data elements.

    • a single amqp-value: contains a single AMQP value.

  • Zero or one footer: details about the message or delivery which can only be calculated or evaluated once the whole bare message has been constructed or seen (for example message hashes, HMACs, signatures and encryption details).

Not all fields are exposed in the library API of the AMQP stack.

The properties section is used for a defined set of standard properties of the message. The properties section is part of the bare message; therefore, if retransmitted by an intermediary, it must remain unaltered.

Field Name

Description

message-id

application message identifier - message-id, if set, uniquely identifies a message within the message system. The message producer is usually responsible for setting the message-id in such a way that it is assured to be globally unique. An intermediary may discard a message as a duplicate if the value of the message-id matches that of a previously received message sent to the same node.

user-id

creating user id - The identity of the user responsible for producing the message. The client sets this value, and it may be authenticated by intermediaries.

to

the address of the node the message is destined for

subject

the subject of the message - a common field for summary information about the message content and purpose.

reply-to

the node to send replies to - the address of the node to send replies to.

correlation-id

application correlation identifier - this is a client-specific identifier that can be used to mark or identify messages between clients.

content-type

MIME content type (see note below)

content-encoding

MIME content type (see note below)

absolute-expiry-time

the time when this message is considered expired - an absolute time when this message is considered to be expired.

creation-time

the time when this message was created - an absolute time when this message was created.

group-id

the group this message belongs to - identifies the group the message belongs to.

group-sequence

the sequence-no of this message within its group - the relative position of this message within its group.

reply-to-group-id

the group the reply message belongs to - this is a client-specific id that is used so that client can send replies to this message to a specific group.

Notes

content-type:

The RFC-2046 MIME type for the messages application-data section (body). As per RFC-2046 this can contain a charset parameter defining the character encoding used, e.g. text/plain; charset=“utf-8.

For clarity, as per section 7.2.1 of RFC-2616, where the content type is unknown the content-type should not be set. This allows the recipient the opportunity to determine the actual type. Where the section is known to be truly opaque binary data, the content-type should be set to application/octet-stream.

When using an application-data section with a section code other than data, content-type should not be set.

content-encoding:

The content-encoding property is used as a modifier to the content-type. When present, its value indicates what additional content encodings have been applied to the application-data, and thus what decoding mechanisms need to be applied in order to obtain the media-type referenced by the content-type header field.

content-encoding is primarily used to allow a document to be compressed without losing the identity of its underlying content type.

content-encoding properties are to be interpreted as per section 3.5 of RFC 2616. Valid content-encoding properties are registered at Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) Parameters.

The content-encoding must not be set when the application-data section is other than data. The binary representation of all other application-data section types is defined completely in terms of the AMQP type system.

Implementations must not use the identity encoding. Instead, implementations should not set this property. implementations should not use the compress encoding, except as to remain compatible with messages originally sent with other protocols, e.g. HTTP or SMTP.

Implementations should not specify multiple content-encoding values except as to be compatible with messages originally sent with other protocols, e.g. HTTP or SMTP.

The application-properties section is a part of the bare message used for structured application data. Intermediaries can use the data within this structure for the purposes of filtering or routing.

OPC UA PubSub

The OPC.UA.PubSub offers the publish/subscribe communication pattern as an option to client-server pattern. The detailed description of the OPC.UA.PubSub has been covered by the document OPC Unified Architecture Part 14: PubSub Main Technology Features.

Among others, the specification recognizes the following actors (see figure above) as parts of the PubSub Application as the communication parties:

  • Publisher: is the actor that pushes NetworkMessage structures to a selected AMQP Node.

  • Subscriber: is the actor that consumes data encapsulated by the NetworkMessage structure, which is polled from the selected AMQP Node.

According to the specification the Publisher and Subscriber don't have any subscriptions management functionality, namely, they follow a communication paradigm called unsolicited notification. When unsolicited notification occurs, a client may receive a message that it has never requested. The Subscriber must use a filtering mechanism to process only messages it is interested in.

Lack of subscriptions management functionality defined by the OPC.UA.PubSub could be mitigated by applying the AMQP that some functionality related to communication reliability, data selection, and distribution is delegated to the AMQP Container.

AMQP mapping

Parameters

Using AMQP connectivity as the messages transport layer by the PubSub Application requires two kinds of parameters:

  • PubSub Distribution channel: promoting interoperability between Publisher and all Subscribers interested to obtain data from it.

  • AMQP connections: promoting interoperability between PubSub Application hosted by an AMQP Container and all the AMQP Containers that take part in the communication.

Configuration of the parameters related to the PubSub Applications and AMQP Containers interconnection may be recognized as the implementation details except the scenario where remote configuration using Configuration Management is the case ( PubSub Main Technology Features ).

PubSub Distribution channel

properties

The properties sections are part of the AMQP Bare Message. The table below describes how the selected properties of the message are populated when an AMQP message is constructed.

Field Name

Source

subject

Valid values are ua-data or ua-metadata.

content-type

MIME type for the message body. MIME types are specified in the message body subsections.

  • subject: defines the type of the message contained in the AMQP body. A value of ua-data specifies that the body contains a UADP or JSON NetworkMessage. A value of ua-metadata specifies that the body contains a UA Binary or JSON encoded DataSetMetaData message.

  • content-type: specifies whether the message is binary or JSON data. OPC.UA.PubSub specification defines two possible encodings for the NetworkMessage structure and is encoded depending on the selected encoding mapping as defined for the:

    • JSON message mapping - The corresponding value of the content-type is application/json.

    • UADP message mapping - The corresponding value of the content-type is application/opcua+uadp.

application properties

The application properties sections are part of the AMQP Bare Message used for structured application data. Intermediaries can use the data within this structure for the purposes of filtering or routing.

MP NOTES:

The AMQP message properties shall include additional fields defined on the WriterGroup or DataSetWriter through the KeyValuePair array in the WriterGroupProperties and DataSetWriterProperties. The NamespaceIndex of the QualifiedName in the KeyValuePair shall be 0 for AMQP standard message properties. The Name of the QualifiedName is constructed from a message prefix and the AMQP property name with the following syntax ...

AMQP defines two kinds of properties :

  • 3.2.4 Properties: Immutable properties of the message

  • 3.2.5 Application Properties: Intermediaries can use the data within this structure for the purposes of filtering or routing. The PubSub Application cannot be recognized as the intermediary.

Is not clear which one and how to implement this requirement.

data

The data section is part of the AMQP Bare Message and is contained in the body section. The data section shall be used to transfer the NetworkMessage.

For UADP message mapping if the AMQP frame size exceeds the Container limits it shall be broken into multiple chunks.

The implementation choses packet and message size limits depending on the capabilities of the operating system or the capabilities of the device the application is running on. The mechanism for handling NetworkMessage that exceed the max-message-size limits depends on the encoding.

  • For UADP: it shall be broken into multiple chunks as described in 7.2.2.2.4.

  • For JSON: it is not defined.

MP NOTE:

This functionality is an open issue reported to OPC Foundation: 0004269: Part 14 PubSub Section 7.3.4 it is not clear how to deal with long messages.;

MP NOTE

It has been be reported to OPCF:

For UADP encoding the specification requires:

It is recommended that the MetaDataQueueName as described in 6.4.2.3.6 is configured as a sub-topic of the related QueueName with the name $Metadata.

Unfortunately the AMQP does not define the terms: 'sub-topic' and QueueName. It is also not clear if $Metadata is terminal symbol or refers to somethings else.

MP NOTE:

For MQTT the following limitation is stated: The messages sent through MQTT are limited to one per Application Message, but for AMQP it is not present.

AMQP connection

Addressing

The syntax of the AMQP transporting protocol URL used has the following form:

amqps://<domain name>[:<port>][/<path>]

The default port is 5671.

The syntax for an AMQP URL over Web Sockets has the following form:

wss://<domain name>[:<port>][/<path>]

The default port is 443.

Authentication

Authentication shall be performed according to the configured AuthenticationProfileUri of the PubSubConnection, DataSetWriterGroup, DataSetWriter or DataSetReader entities. If no authentication information is provided in the form of ResourceUri and AuthenticationProfileUri, SASL Anonymous is implied. If the authentication profile specifies SASL PLAIN authentication, a separate connection for each new Authentication setting is required.

MP NOTE:

This requirements are not clear because it is not related to Publisher/Subscriber interoperability- it is not common knowledge necessary to communicate over AMQP. This parameter could be relevant for the PubSub Application and Container interoperability. This section must be revisited after getting more.

Quality of Service

A writer negotiates the delivery guarantees for its link using the snd-settle-mode settlement policy (settled, unsettled, mixed) it will use, and the desired rcv-settle-mode (first, second) of the broker.

Vice versa, the reader negotiates delivery guarantees using its rcv-settle-mode (first, second) and the desired snd-settle-mode (settled, unsettled) of the broker.

This matches to the BrokerTransportQualityOfService values as follows:

  • AtMostOnce_1 – messages are pre-settled at the sender endpoint and not sent again. Messages may be lost in transit. This is the default setting.

  • AtLeastOnce_2 – messages are received and settled at the receiver without waiting for the sender to settle.

  • ExactlyOnce_3 – messages are received, the sender settles and then the receiver settles.

MP Note:

This mapping requirements must be reviewed against AMQP specification. It seems that the BrokerTransportQualityOfService is defined by the configuration model and not exist if this model is not used.

Keep Alive

If the KeepAliveTime is set on a WriterGroup, a value slightly higher than the configured value of the group should be used as idle timeout of the connection ensuring that the connection is disconnected if the keep alive message was not sent by any writer. Otherwise, if no KeepAliveTime is specified, the implementation should set a reasonable default value.

MP NOTE

Reported to OPC Foundation 0004301: 7.3.4.6 Transport Limits and Keep Alive

It must be explained what the connection means. The AMQP define connection for:

  • Containers

  • session

  • Link.

Notices for Implementer

In the article Reactive Networking of Semantic-Data Library the section Message Transport contains description covering instruction for the external AMQP handling components. An example how to implement the Transport layer over the UDP protocol is illustrated by the project UA Data Example Application.

See also