Title:
COUNTING AND BILLING MECHANISM FOR WEB-SERVICES BASED ON A SOAP-COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses a system and method for counting Web-Services by means of a Resource-Counter Service offered as an own, independent Web-Service based on a SOAP communication protocol as well as a system and method for billing Web-Services using the result of the Resource-Counter Service for calculation of a charge. The Resource-Counter Service may be accessed by all Service-Provider having service description of the Resource-Counter Service. The service description for the Resource-Counter Service may be preferably created and published by the Service-Provider, categorized by the Service-Broker, and can be found and used to invoke the Resource-Counter Service by all Service-Provider using a charging model for their Web-Services. The Resource-Counter Service mainly provides the functionality to create all necessary data allowing calculation of the charge for the use of a Web-Service. The final calculation of the charge itself may be done by a separate specific accounting and bill presentment component.



Inventors:
Eibach, Wolfgang (Holzgerlingen, DE)
Gruetzner, Matthias (Schonaich, DE)
Kuebler, Dietmar (Altdorf, DE)
Application Number:
12/062161
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
04/03/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
705/400, 709/201, 726/3
International Classes:
G06F15/00; G06F15/16; G06F17/00; G06F21/00; G06Q30/00; H04L9/32; H04L29/06; H04L29/08
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TRAN, NGHI V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCGINN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW GROUP, PLLC (VIENNA, VA, US)
Claims:
1. Service-Provider System for providing chargeable Web-Services for Service-Requesters comprising: a Service-Provider Web-Service component a Service-Provider communication component (SOAP-server) allowing electronic communication between said Service-Provider system and a Service-Requester system using a SOAP-communication protocol, wherein said Service Requester system having an application which generates digital data to be used by said Web-Service, a service description for accessing said Web-Service via said Service-Provider communication component (SOAP-server) and a communication component (SOAP-client) for exchanging digital data between said application and said Web-Service via said SOAP-server by using a SOAP-communication protocol characterized by service description for electronically accessing a Resource-Counter Service provided by another Service-Provider having a communication component (SOAP-client) allowing electronic communication with another Service-Provider systems by using a SOAP-communication protocol, and a Resource-Counter Service providing data for electronic calculation of charges of said Web-Service to be accessed by said Service Requester a communication component (SOAP-client) for electronically exchanging data with a communication component (SOAP-server) of said Resource-Counter Service by using said service description of said Resource-Counter Service and using a SOAP-communication protocol.

2. Service-Provider System according to claim 1, wherein said service description for accessing said Resource-Counter Service is provided by a Service-Broker using a SOAP-communication protocol.

3. Service-Provider System according to claim 1, wherein said SOAP-communication protocol is based on a HTTP-protocol.

4. Service-Provider System according to claim 1, wherein said service description is a XML document describing the semantics and the message API (Application Programming Interface) of said Resource-Counter Service Service.

5. Service-Provider according to claim 1, further comprising: a bill present component having access to the data provided by said Resource-Counter Service for calculation of charges for Web-Service to be counted.

6. Resource-Counter Service-Provider system for providing Resource-Counter Service for a Service-Provider system as claimed in claim 1 comprising: a Resource-Counter Service component providing data for calculation of Web-Service to be accessed by Service Requester a communication component (SOAP-server) for electronically receiving data from a communication component (SOAP-client) located at the Service-Provider system, electronically passing said data to said Resource-Counter Service component, electronically receiving the result of the Resource-Counter Service component and electronically transmitting said result to the said communication component (SOAP-client) of said Service-Provider providing a Web-Service to be accessed by said Service Requester, wherein the communication protocol used by said component is SOAP.

7. Resource-Counter Service-Provider system according to claim 6, wherein said Resource-Counter Service component is extended by a bill present presentment functionality using the data provided by said Resource-Counter Service functionality and calculating charges' for said Web-Service to be accessed.

8. Resource-Counter Service-Provider system according to claim 6, wherein a service description for accessing said Resource-Counter Service is created and published by said Resource-Counter Service-Provider system in the right category in the Service-Broker's taxonomy using SOAP communication protocol.

9. Resource-Counter Service-Provider system according to claim 8, wherein said SOAP-communication protocol is based on HTTP.

10. Resource-Counter Service-Provider system according to claim 8, wherein said service description is a XML document.

11. Web-Service architecture comprising: a Service-Requester system comprising: a communication component (SOAP-client) allowing electronic communication between said Service-Requester system and said Service-Provider system using a SOAP-communication protocol, wherein said Service Requester system having an application which generates digital data to be used by said Web-Service, and a service description for accessing said Web-Service a Service-Provider system providing a Web-Service for Service Requester systems comprising: a communication component (SOAP-server) allowing electronic communication of said communication component of said Service-Requester system with said Web-Service using a SOAP-communication protocol service description for electronically accessing a Resource-Counter Service provided by another Service-Provider a communication component (SOAP-client) for electronically exchanging data with a communication component (SOAP-server) of a Resource-Counter Service by using said service description of said Resource-Counter Service and using a SOAP-communication protocol a Resource-Counter Service-Provider system comprising: a Resource-Counter Service component for counting of a Web-Service a communication component (SOAP-server) for electronically receiving data from a communication component (SOAP-client) located at the Service-Provider system providing Web-Service to be accessed, electronically passing said data to said Resource-Counter Service, electronically receiving the result of the Resource-Counter Service and electronically transmitting said result to the communication component of said Service-Provider, wherein the communication protocol used by said component is SOAP.

12. Method for counting and charging of Web-Services using Service-Provider system as claimed in claim 1 to 10, comprising the steps of: performing an authentication process between Service requester and Service-Provider receiving a SOAP-Bind request for the requested Web-Service being created by the SOAP-client of said Service-Requester creating an instance for the Web-Service to be selected sending a SOAP-Bind request to the SOAP-server of the Resource-Counter Service-Provider for execution of said Resource-Counter Service receiving a SOAP-response from said Resource-Counter Service-Provider that the Resource is started executing said Web-Service sending a SOAP-request to said Resource-Counter Service for stopping of counting when said Web-Service is completed receiving a SOAP-response that the Resource-Counter Service is stopped sending a SOAP-request to said Service-Requester containing the result of said Web-Service.

13. Method according to claim 12, wherein said SOAP-Bind request for execution of said Resource-Counter Service contains data for authentication of said Service-Provider.

14. Method according to claim 12, wherein an authentication process is performed with said Resource-Counter Service-Provider before said SOAP-Bind request is sent.

15. Method according to claim 12, further including the steps: receiving a SOAP-response containing Resource-Counter data for said Web-Service being accessed calculating charges for said Web-Service being accessed by said Service-Requester based on said Resource-Counter data sending a bill to said Service-Requester containing charges of said Web-Service being accessed.

16. Method according to claim 12, further including the step: receiving a SOAP-response containing a bill being calculated and created by said Resource-Counter Service based on said Resource-Counter data and an account model provided by said Service-Provider sending said bill to said Service-Requester.

17. Computer program product stored in the internal memory of a digital computer, containing parts of software code to execute the method in accordance with claims 12 to 16 if the product is run on the computer.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a Continuation Application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/466,937 filed on Nov. 6, 2003.

The present invention relates generally to computer systems and more particular to the access counting, and billing mechanism for Web-Services based on a SOAP-communication protocol.

A new technology currently evolves in the Internet, the so called Web-Services. Web-Services may be defined as providing existing or new e-business services into a service-oriented architecture (SOA). These Web-Services are normally offered by independent Service-Providers to support other Internet user in managing their Internet activities. Examples of such services may be tax calculation for an online shop, payment handling for internet shops, or document translation into various languages. To support these Web-Services in the Internet, a new architecture was defined, SOA, the Service Oriented Architecture. This new architecture describes how a Web-Service may be found by user, how a potential user can access such Web-Services.

The communication protocol for these Web-Services is also a new defined protocol, called SOAP which stands for Simple Object Access Protocol.

SOAP is a way for a program running in one kind of operating system to communicate with a program in the same or another kind of an operating system by using preferably the World Wide Web's Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and its Extensible Markup Language (XML) as the mechanisms for information exchange. Since Web protocols are installed and available for use by all major operating system platforms, HTTP and XML provide an already at-hand solution to the problem of how programs running under different operating systems in a network can communicate with each other. SOAP specifies exactly how to encode an HTTP header and an XML file so that a program in one computer can call a program in another computer and pass it information. It also specifies how the called program can return a response.

The basic architecture of SOAP is shown in FIG. 1. The basic architecture comprises three components, the Service-Providers, the Service-Brokers, and the Service requesters.

The Service-Providers publish the availability of their Web-Services, the Service-Brokers register and categorize the published Web-Services and provide search services, and the Service Requesters using Service-Broker to find a needed Web-Service and then employing that Web-Service.

A typical SOAP-communication architecture as used by the prior art is shown in FIG. 2.

Service-Provider offers a Web-Service e.g. a tax-calculation service. Service-Providers publish their Web-Service to Service-Broker. The Service-Provider knows the semantics of the Web-Service and publishes it in the right category in the Service-Broker's taxonomy. What is published by the Service-Provider to the Service-Broker is called service description. Service descriptions are XML documents that describes the semantics and the message API (Application Programming Interface) of a certain Web-Service. For example, the service description for a tax calculation program may include price of the service, availability, functionality, URL, IDL and so on. IDL, or Interface-Definition-Language, defines the input and output data required by that Web-Service. Service requesters, knowing the Web-Service they need, ask the Service-Broker for a list of services in that category. A Service-Requester receives by SOAP-Find response a service description for the requested Web-Service. The Service Requester uses the IDL for converting the input data format generated by the shopping application into a data format required by Web-Service and sends a SOAP-request containing the converted input data to the Web-Service. The Web-Service returns a SOAP response containing the result (output data), e.g. tax result, to the Service Requester.

The SOAP-architecture as discussed above does not address at all the aspect of charging of the new Web-Services. As far as new Web-Services are offered by the Internet today they are either free or financed by commercials.

At present there is no generalized charging model for the SOAP-Web-Service architecture allowing Service-Provider to charge their Web-Services.

It is therefore object of the present invention to provide a generalized charging model for Web-Services which may integrated very easily in the present SOAP architecture.

This object is solved by the features of the independent claims. Further preferred embodiments of the present invention are laid down in dependent claims.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention discloses a system and method for counting Web-Services by means of a Resource-Counter Service offered as an own, independent Web-Service based on a SOAP communication architecture as well as a system and method for using the result of the Resource-Counter Service for calculation of a charge based on the SOAP-communication protocol. The Resource-Counter Service may be accessed by all Service-Provider having access to the service description of the Resource-Counter Service. The service description for the Resource-Counter Service may be preferably created and published by the Service-Provider, categorized by the Service-Broker, and can be found and used to invoke the Resource-Counter Service by all Web-Service-Provider using a charging model. The Resource-Counter Service mainly provides the functionality to create all necessary data allowing calculation of the charge for the use of a Web-Service, e.g. begin time for service, end time for service. The final calculation of the charge itself may be done by a separate specific accounting and bill presentment component which may be also implemented as an extension to the Resource-Counter Service. In addition to bill presentment and calculating charges, the data of the Resource-Counter Service can be used to trigger any kind of electronic payment process. The data of the Resource-Counter can be mapped to different rating models. It therefore supports multiple Service providers with their different business models. Finally, the Resource-Counter Service may provide further functionalities in connection with charging a Web-Service, e.g. create Service Requester accounts and contracts, provide a set of accounting model templates.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows the basic structure of a SOAP-Web-Service architecture on which the present invention is based

FIG. 2 shows an example for a typical SOAP-Web-Service-communication architecture as used by the prior art

FIG. 3 shows the inventive Resource-Counter implemented in a SOAP-Web-Service architecture

FIG. 4 shows an existing SOAP-communication architecture as shown in FIG. 2 extended by the inventive Resource-Counter Service

FIG. 5 shows an interaction diagram for using the inventive Resource-Counter Service

FIG. 6 shows an interaction diagram for creation of a bill based on information received from the inventive Resource-Counter-Service

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In FIG. 3 the basic idea of the present invention is shown. The existing SOAP-architecture will be extended by an Resource-Counter Service being accessible as own Web-Service. The Resource-Counter Service may be invoked via SOAP messages as follows: The Service Requester (client x) 1 uses a Web-Service from the Service-Provider 2. If this Web-Service is not free of charge, Service-Provider 2 contacts Resource-Counter Service 3 for providing accounting service. It is assumed that the Service-Provider 2 has a contract with the Service-Provider for the accounting service 3. Resource-Counter Service may be also an internal service of the Service-Provider itself. Service-Provider 2 will send a SOAP message request to the Resource-Counter Service 3 asking for accounting for its Service Requester 1 by providing at least begin time for service and end time of service. (FIG. 4 shows a detailed communication protocol for that case). After a certain period (e.g. one week, one month), Service-Provider 2 will request from the Resource-Counter Service-Provider 3 all records for the accounting period. These records are stored on a data base 4, and will be sent as a SOAP response on request. These records may be used for calculating the charge generated by Service Requester. The Resource-Counter Service mainly provides the functionality to create all necessary data allowing calculation of the charge for the execution of a Web-Service, e.g. begin time for service, end time for service. The final calculation of the charge itself may be done by a separate specific accounting and bill presentment component which may be also implemented as an extension to the Resource-Counter Service.

FIG. 4 shows a typical SOAP-communication architecture extended by the inventive Resource Counter-Service. Service-Provider 16, 18, 20, 22 offers Web-Services 1 and 2, e.g. a tax-calculation service. Another Service-Provider 34 offers a Resource-Counter-Service 42. Both Service-Provider 16, 34 publish service descriptions 14, 28 for their Web-Services in the right category in the Service-Broker's taxonomy 44; 46, 48, 50, 52 using a SOAP message response (Publish). Service Requester 2; 4, 6, 8 as well as Service-Provider 16 receive the service description 14, 28 of the requested Web-Services by a SOAP message response (Find). The Service Requester 2, especially its SOAP client 12, creates a SOAP message request by using service description 14 of the requested Web-Service for converting the shopping application data 10, e.g. an order list created by the user, into a data representation required by requested Web-Service 24, 30 and sends a SOAP message request containing the converted shopping application data 10 as well as authentication data to the Service-Provider 16. If the authentication succeeds, the SOAP message request is then executed by the Application Server 20 using the SOAP Server 18 for calling up the requested Web-Service 24, 30, e.g. tax calculation application. When the Web-Service is completed, Service-Provider 16 sends a stop counting request to the Resource-Counter Service-Provider 34. The Resource-Counter Service 42 stores an account record to the data base. After a certain period of time, the Service-Provider 16 receives the account records for calculating the charges for his Service Requester 2 using an accounting and bill presentment component 32. In an another embodiment of the present invention, the Resource-Counter Service 42 has the additional functionality to create a bill for each Service Requester 2 based on a billing profile provided by the Service-Provider 16. The bill may be sent to the Service Requester 2 either by the Service-Provider 16 providing Web-Service or directly from the Resource-Counter Service 42 to the Service Requester.

FIG. 5 shows an interaction diagram for using the inventive Resource-Counter Service.

The interaction diagram shows a method for execution of a Web-Service at an Application Service Provider machine (ASP) using a HTTP/SOAP based communication protocol. The requested Web-Service is not free of charge, and therefore the Resource-Counter Service is invoked for counting.

The Service Requester sends a HTTP-logon request to the ASP 1. The ASP returns an authentication request 2. For example ASP sends an authentication request containing a random number to the Service Requester. The Service Requester uses its secret key and cryptographic algorithm to encrypt the random number. The Service Requester sends a response to the ASP containing the encrypted random number along with identifying information. The ASP uses the identifying information to retrieve the secret for the Service Requester from its database.

It uses this key to encrypt the same random number sent to the Service-Provider using the same algorithm as the Service Requester. ASP compares the encrypted random number returned by the Service Requester with the result of its own encryption process. If these numbers are the same, then the Service Requester is authentic and is allowed to access the requested Web-Service.

The Service requester, especially its SOAP client, creates a HTTP/SOAP Bind request using the service description for the requested Web-Service preferably provided by a Service-Broker and send the HTTP/SOAP Bind request to the ASP 4. The HTTP/SOAP Bind request is then forwarded to the Application server and SOAP server 5. The SOAP server requests to create an instance of the requested Web-Service 6. The SOAP client creates a HTTP/SOAP request for invoking the Resource-Counter Service using the service description of the Resource-Counter Service preferably provided by the Service-Broker and sends a HTTP/SOAP request to the SOAP server of the Resource-Counter Service 7. Preferably step 7 may be executed only if an additional authentication method for the Service-Provider as explained above has been performed. Then, the Resource-Counter Service is started 8. SOAP server sends HTTP/SOAP response to the requester indicating “Resource-Counter Service started” 8. Now the requested Web-Service is executed 10. When the Web-Service is completed 11, the SOAP client of the Service-Provider sends a HTTP/SOAP request to the Resource-Counter Service to stop counting 12 Then, the Resource-Counter Service is stopped 13. The Resource-Counter Service returns a response to the Service-Provider “Resource-Counter Service stopped” 15. Service-Provider, especially its SOAP server returns a response to the Service Requestor: Service completed, return result.

The following is a sample SOAP request message which can be used to record a client begin time:

1 <binding name=“AServiceBinding”......> <soap:binding
......./> <operation name=“AService” <input
message=“tns:ServiceRequester”> <soap:header
element=“xsdl:ServiceRequesterId”/> <soap:body
element=“.........”/> </input </operation> </binding>

The soap:binding binds the Service Requester to the Resource-Counter Service Service-Provider and defines the type of SOAP message and the transport protocol. The Service Requestor identifies himself in the soap:header element, where the ServiceRequesterId is passed to the Service-Provider. This is a sample where this information is passed in the soap:header element. The soap header is an optional part of a SOAP message, and if not available, the ServiceRequesterId may also be passed as part of the soap:body element. The soap:body element carries the actual request to the Resource-Counter Service server, e.g. the client ID, the begin time e.t.c.

FIG. 6 shows an interaction diagram for creating a bill based on information received from the inventive Resource-Counter Service. The Service Requester has used Web-Services from ASP for some time, and the accounting and bill presentment application of the Service-Provider creates a bill out of the data from the Resource-Counter Service. Following steps are performed by this method:

The accounting application requests accounting of the Service Requester (client x) (1).

SOAP client sends a HTTP/SOAP request to the SOAP Server of the Resource-Counter Service requesting a usage report for client x for a timeframe y 2. The SOAP Server receives the accounting data for the requested timeframe from the data base 3. SOAP server returns a HTTP/SOAP response with the accounting data to the accounting application 4. Application produces a bill for client x based on the accounting data received from the Resource-Counter Service and the charging model for client x 5. Bill is sent to client x, e.g. e-mail. The bill creation may also be implemented as an extension to the Resource-Counter Service Service.

In that case the Service-Provider will only request the bill and the above disclosed method will be performed at the Resource-Counter Service Service.

In addition to bill presentment and calculating charges, the data of the Resource-Counter Service can be used to trigger any kind of electronic payment process. The data of the Resource-Counter can be mapped to different rating models. It therefore supports multiple Service providers with their different business models.

In summary, the Resource-Counter Service may provide the following services:

accounting data for calculating service charge, e.g. record user begin time for the service, record user end time of the service, report total resource usage for a specific user, report used services statistic per user,
the creation of Service Requester accounts (e.g. ad-hoc or by contract)
the creation of Service-Provider contracts
the answering of queries if USERID is allowed for a requested service at this time, and
maintaining Service Requester accounts provide a set of accounting model templates.