Group Management and Communication Support for Collaborative Applications

Erik Wilde

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In this paper, an architecture for communication support for collaborative applications is described. The motivation for the design of this architecture is the observation that generic support for group communications is an area which received not much attention until now. The design is based on two components, a Group Management System (GMS) and Group Communication Support (GCS). The GMS is responsible for managing the name space of the support platform. Users and groups are the two entities of the name space, and two different relationships between them (membership and manager) can be established. This way it is possible to reflect the structure of collaborative workers inside the GMS. The GCS component is responsible for establishing connections between collaborative applications using the GMS/GCS and for hiding the details of the multicast transport infrastructure from the application. It is possible to bind users and groups to specific applications and multicast transport services. This way any group can be used by different applications using different transport services. The main advantages of GMS/GCS are reduced implementation costs, a shared name space of users and groups, and a simple interface to different multicast transport services.

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