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                    The OpenPegasus Binary Protocol FAQ
                    ===================================

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) hopefully addresses questions you might
have about the the OpenPegasus Binary Protocol. If you find your question was
not addressed, please ask your question on the OpenPegasus mailing list and
request that the answer be included in this document.

What is the Binary Protocol?
============================

The binary protocol is a fast protocol for client-server communication. It
allows local clients to send binary messages to the OpenPegasus server and
receive binary responses. This protocol is much faster than the default
XML protocol. When the binary protocol is enabled, local clients use it to
communicate with the OpenPegasus server. Examples of local clients include:
(1) out-of-process providers making up-calls, (2) any provider making a local
connection with the CIMClient class, (2) any local process making a local
connection with the CIMClient class.

Why use the Binary Protocol?
============================

The main reason to use the binary protocol is to improve performance of the
server and clients. Some operations execute as much as 4 times faster with
the binary protocol.

How big are binary messages?
============================

Binary messages are slightly larger than XML messages for two reasons:
(1) Strings are transmitted using 2-byte characters and (2) Objects are
aligned on 8-byte boundaries.

What are the basic rules for encoding messages?
===============================================

The encoding rules were designed for speed rather than size. The basic rules
are:

    (1) All basic types are aligned on 8-byte boundaries. For example, a uint32
        starts on an 8-byte boundary and is followed by 4 padding bytes so that
        the next type is aligned on an 8-byte boundary. This alignment has 2
        advantages: (1) it allows any basic type to be dereferenced directly in
        the buffer without having to relocate it and (2) it is inexpensive to
        calculate the alignment of the next type.

        There are 2 other data alignment techniques we could have chosen:

            (*) Don't align at all. Just pack types into the buffer end-to-end.
                This technique yields smaller messages but sacrifices
                performance since types cannot be assigned directly to or
                from the data buffer (some operating systems generate data
                alignment errors).

            (*) Align types on their "natural boundaries". This means that
                a type should be aligned on boundaries divisible by its size.
                For example, a 2-byte integer should be aligned on a 2-byte
                boundary, or a 4-byte integer should be aligned on a 4-byte
                boundary. This alignment technique allows types to be directly
                assigned to or from the data buffer. However, aligning the data
                buffer for the next type is slightly more expensive since it
                requires a few extra instructions to compute the alignment
                boundary than our approach.

    (2) Types are serialized into the message in their native representations.
        We do not change the representation to either big endian or little
        endian. Instead, the recipient of the message is responsible for
        converting the data into its native representation. If both processes
        have the same native representation, then the reordering of bytes can
        be avoided (this is always the case with local processes). This policy
        has been referred to as "reader makes right". That is, the reader is
        responsible for making the incoming data into the "right"
        representation.

    (3) All arrays are represented by their size followed by their elements.
        The size is always 4 bytes with 4 extra bytes of padding. In this way,
        the elements always begin on an 8-byte boundary. The elements are packed
        end to end with no padding.

    (4) Strings are represented like arrays (size plus elements).

    (5) Boolean are represented as a single byte, either 0 or 1.

    (6) Complex objects that have optional elements or boolean elements, often
        employ a single 4-byte bit mask that indicates which flags are true
        and which elements are present in the network buffer. For example,
        the CIMProperty representation has a bit mask that indicates whether
        the property:

            (*) is an array.
            (*) is propagated.
            (*) has qualifiers.
            (*) has a non-empty references class .
            (*) has a non-empty class origin.

        This save considerable space. For example, if there are no qualifiers,
        then we save 8 bytes that would be needed to represent an empty
        qualifier array.

What is the layout of a binary message?
=======================================

Binary messages are comprised of a header followed by a body. The header has
the following elements:

    (1) Magic number - contains 0xF00DFACE.
    (2) Version number - 1 for the first version.
    (3) Flags - flags used to represent boolean options of the message.
    (4) Message ID - same as the message ID in a CIM message.
    (5) Operation - an integer representing the CIM operation, given as follows:

        (*) Invalid = 1
        (*) GetClass = 2
        (*) GetInstance = 3
        (*) IndicationDelivery = 4 (binary version not implemented)
        (*) DeleteClass = 5
        (*) DeleteInstance = 6
        (*) CreateClass = 7
        (*) CreateInstance = 8
        (*) ModifyClass = 9
        (*) ModifyInstance = 10
        (*) EnumerateClasses = 11
        (*) EnumerateClassNames = 12
        (*) EnumerateInstances = 13
        (*) EnumerateInstanceNames = 14
        (*) ExecQuery = 15
        (*) Associators = 16
        (*) AssociatorNames = 17
        (*) References = 18
        (*) ReferenceNames = 19
        (*) GetProperty = 20
        (*) SetProperty = 21
        (*) GetQualifier = 22
        (*) SetQualifier = 23
        (*) DeleteQualifier = 24
        (*) EnumerateQualifiers = 25
        (*) InvokeMethod = 26

Does the binary protocol use HTTP?
==================================

Yes. The binary protocol uses the existing OpenPegasus HTTP infrastructure.
It preserve the same headers as the conventional protocol.

Does the binary protocol define new HTTP headers?
=================================================

Yes. It defines two new headers:

    Content-Type: application/x-openpegasus
    Accept: application/x-openpegasus

The first header is borne by both binary requests and binary responses.
It indicates that the content (payload) contains an OpenPegasus binary messages.

The second header is sent by a request and indicates that the client can
handle OpenPegasus binary responses.

The client can combine these headers to achieve 4 different behaviors:

    (1) Binary request/Binary response:

            Content-Type: application/x-openpegasus
            Accept: application/x-openpegasus

    (2) Binary request/XML response:

            Content-Type: application/x-openpegasus

    (3) XML request/binary response:

            Accept: application/x-openpegasus

    (4) XML request/XML response:

            (omit both headers)

Only 1 and 4 can be achieved without minor code changes to OpenPegasus.

How does protocol versioning work?
==================================

The binary messages carries a version number in the header. This will be used
to support backwards compatibility with clients. The server must never be
modified to send version N+1 messages to version N clients.

Does the binary protocol support remote communication?
======================================================

Yes, although there is no official SDK interface for enabling it. To enable
it, one must obtain the CIMClientRep from the CIMClient instance and set
the following data members to true.

    CIMClientRep::_binaryRequest
    CIMClientRep::_binaryResponse

The following code fragment shows how one might do this in a program.

    static void _SetBinaryRequest(CIMClient& client, Boolean flag)
    {
        CIMClientRep* rep = *(reinterpret_cast<CIMClientRep**>(&client));
        rep->setBinaryRequest(flag);
    }

    static void _SetBinaryResponse(CIMClient& client, Boolean flag)
    {
        CIMClientRep* rep = *(reinterpret_cast<CIMClientRep**>(&client));
        rep->setBinaryResponse(flag);
    }

    ...

    CIMClient client;
    _SetBinaryRequest(client, true);
    _SetBinaryResponse(client, true);

    client.connect("localhost", 22000, String(), String());

This forces a remote binary connection.

What is on-demand de-serialization?
===================================

The binary protocol supports a feature we call "on-demand de-serialization".
When using out-of-process providers, data may be de-serialized unnecessarily.
Consider the following sequence of events.

    (1) The client sends an EnumerateInstances request to the server.
    (2) The server de-serializes the request.
    (3) The server serializes the request for the provider agent.
    (4) The provider agent de-serializes the request.
    (5) The provider agent obtains response.
    (6) The provider agent serializes the response for the server.
    (7) The server de-serializes the request.
    (8) The server serializes the request for the client.
    (9) The client de-serializes the request.

The on-demand de-serialization feature eliminates the de-serialization of the
returned instances, saving them in a data buffer. Then in step 8, the data
buffer is sent to the client. This optimization avoids one de-serialization and
one serialization. For the EnumerateInstances operation, this optimization
alone doubles the speed of servicing this operation.

On-demand de-serialization is implemented for the following operations:

    (1) EnumerateInstances
    (2) GetInstance
    (3) Associators
    (4) ExecQuery

Where is the binary encoding/decoding code located?
===================================================

The source code for encoding and decoding binary requests and responses is
all included in a single module. The source files are located here:

    pegasus/src/Pegaus/Common/BinaryCodec.h
    pegasus/src/Pegaus/Common/BinaryCodec.cpp

The source code that implements the encoding of objects themselves is located
here:

    pegasus/src/Pegaus/Common/CIMBuffer.h
    pegasus/src/Pegaus/Common/CIMBuffer.cpp

How do you build OpenPegasus with binary protocol support?
==========================================================

To build OpenPegasus with binary protocol support, define the following
environment variable first:

    $ export PEGASUS_ENABLE_PROTOCOL_BINARY=true

Are there further improvements that could be made to the protocol?
==================================================================

Yes, here are a few.

    (1) Excessive copying is required to convert CIMBuffer objects into
        Buffer objects. CIMBuffer could be reimplemented to use Buffer
        as its representation. Then it would be possible to "swap" their
        implementations rather than copying one to the other.

    (2) It might have been better to align objects on their natural boundaries
        rather than on 8-byte boundaries. This would probably reduce the
        message size by 25% or so.

    (3) The on-demand de-serialization should probably be extended to operations
        other than just GetInstance and EnumerateInstances. For example, the
        following operations would benefit the most.

            (*) EnumerateInstanceNames
            (*) AssociatorNames
            (*) References
            (*) ReferenceNames
            (*) InvokeMethod

    (4) The binary protocol should be extended to support the pull-operations
        whenever they are implemented for XML.