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iChapter 1 Introducing Internet Locator Server (ILS)

iiiiiiThis chapter provides a brief introduction to ILS. It explains the need for ILS and its functionality. By reading this overview, you can gain a sense of how you can use ILS.

The Business Need

iiUntil recently, the Internet has been used mainly as a means of communication for government, scientific, and educational communities. Today, the Internet offers unimagined personal and business opportunities. With this explosion of interest comes the need for a locator service that can meet the growing demands for real-time connectivity in this fast-paced marketplace.

Locator services are a relatively new concept to the Internet. Internet directory services let you find static information about users on the Internet (for example, phone numbers and e-mail addresses). Locator services allow you to find dynamic information about people who are currently log onto the Internet. They store the information about a user that is changing or that is available only when they are logged on (for example, IP address).

The current set of Locator servers have been limited in scope, and without standard protocols for communication with real time applications, such as Internet telephony. As a result, the Internet has lacked a standards-based Locator service that could be used by an organization both as an internal locator and for access to global location information.

The ILS Solution

Internet Locator Server (ILS) can be used to create dynamic network communities, facilitating users’ abilities to:

How does Internet Locator Server address the demands of the marketplace? ILS offers an off-the-shelf, standards-based Internet directory server product designed for commercial use and heavy traffic volumes. For example, the ILS is designed to accommodate high scalability of one hundred thousand users per server handling millions of queries per day on each server.


Key Features of ILS

ILS offers the following features to an Internet service provider offering Web services:


ILS Architecture

ILS has three interfaces for gaining access to its contents: a standard HTTP interface for HTML Web pages, a standards-based LDAP interface for ILS LDAP clients, and a User Location Protocol (ULP) that a limited number of Internet clients use to access dynamic directory information.

A service provider can use the HTTP interface to design a dynamic member directory that users access through their Web browser. The ILS LDAP interface provides Internet standards-based access protocol that allows any third party Internet client application that uses the ILS SDK, such as the Microsoft NetMeeting client, to access the ILS servers for dynamic directory information, such as a user’s current IP address. This facilitates the construction of point-to-point Internet communication sessions. The ULP interface is provided only as a migration strategy and will be phased-out in the future. Dynamic directory clients are strongly encouraged to use the LDAP interface.

ILS runs as a set of services on the computer running Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). ILS stores its directory information in a RAM-based dynamic database.

The following diagram illustrates the ILS design.

Undisplayed Graphic


Integrated Functionality

Overall, the components of ILS provide a flexible system that offers a dynamic (location) directory services to a variety of different client applications.

Dynamic directory information is handled by the Internet Location Server. A person’s IP address, which can be different every time a user logs on to the Internet, is an example of dynamic directory information that other users may want to retrieve.

When users connect to the Internet, they can register their names and IP addresses with the ILS server. Throughout their time online, client applications send periodic refreshes to the server to keep user ILS entries valid. When the client application terminates for any reason, the ILS server deletes user entries after the refresh period has elapsed, thereby protecting against stale dynamic directory information.

Because of the frequency of client refreshes, ILS stores its information in a RAM database. This provides better performance than if the information was in a disk-based database. Clients can access the directory through the ILS LDAP interface, through the ULP (User Location Protocol) interface, or through a Web page that includes the ILS ActiveX server component.

ILS can service standard Web browsers through Active Server Pages technology. Web authors use the ILS ActiveX server component (ILS ASC) for Web-based queries and directory manipulation through ILS. Results can be displayed in standard HTML.

Note   Application writers are actively encouraged to use the LDAP rather than the ULP interface. As the number of client applications using ULP dwindles, the ULP interface will be phased out.


Real-Time Communications Applications That Can Be Used With ILS

ILS supports real-time communications applications that use the ILS LDAP or the ULP protocols for registering a user as being online, for example, Microsoft NetMeeting and Intel Internet Phone.

When a user starts a real-time communications application and connects to a particular server, the user is registered as being online. These applications continually refresh the online listing.

Each user is associated with the list of communication applications they have installed on their computer.


Example Implementation

iThe following fictional examples illustrate how ILS can be applied to a large Internet service provider, a special Internet community, and a large corporation to facilitate online conferencing.

Example 1: Internet Online

Internet Online is an Internet service provider with millions of members spanning the globe. An ISP uses ILS to maintain information about its users that are currently logged onto the service. Members use the Locator directory to find the IP address of other members.

To expand the user community, Internet Online has created a Web page that enables non-members, as well as members, to find users through the locator directory. Non-members are also encouraged to create their own listings in the locator directory. This allows its members to find other people on the Internet. Internet Online becomes the place people go to find others that are on the Internet.

Example 2: Wobble Corporation

The Wobble Corporation maintains offices all over the world. To facilitate interaction among employees in all regions, Wobble has adopted Microsoft NetMeeting as its conferencing platform. Wobble has set up an ILS server to provide Internet location services through ILS to its employees. Because the ILS server keeps track of the Internet address of each employee that is online, NetMeeting can easily map between an employee’s name and IP address, which facilitates creation of online virtual meetings and communities.

When they arrive at the office for the day, employees register their NetMeeting client program with the ILS server. Then, using NetMeeting or a Web browser, other employees query the server to determine whether certain coworkers are online and ready for a conference call. Seeing that coworkers are indeed available, employees use NetMeeting to invite coworkers to a virtual meeting, work on a shared document, and start online conversations.

Example 3: Jockey Connection

Jockey Connection, an exclusive online community of horse riders and enthusiasts, maintains a Web site for their community to share information. People go there to find information about horses and to meet others who share their interest in horses.

Every page of the Web site updates the user's online listing, which includes detailed information on the user's specific interests. One frame of each page lists other users who are viewing that page, and provides a link to connect. An online search page shows everyone online, as well as users grouped by their specific interest area.

To avoid having to have users enter their interests each time they return to the Jockey Connection site, the information is stored in the User Property Database, a component of the Personalization System.

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