XiVO's new directory server

Posted on Fri 26 September 2014 in Software by pcadotte

Some of you may know that a new version of the XiVO client is being worked on at the moment. The newlook and feel require some work behind the scenes to merge all kindof contacts a XiVO user might have into a single source of information.

What does all this mean ? A personal contact, an entry from an LDAP server or another XiVO usershould all be available to the user as one single list of contacts, even if some operations are not available on all kinds of entries.

We already had a directory xlet that merged XiVO users and remote directoryentries into a single list. This xlet is used by the switchboard profile.The directory xlet does most of the heavy lifting of merging the different contactlists on the client side. This solution is not ideal for the future of XiVO as we wouldlike to be able to develop a mobile or web-based version of the client without theburden of rewriting the same logic.

The first step of our work on this new client is to move this directory logicback on the server side. To do so, we are creating a new directory service, namedxivo-dird, that will be responsible of handling all queries made to all configured directory sources ona XiVO.

This new service will offer a public REST interface. This means that custom client-side applicationswill be able to integrate the services provided by xivo-dird easily. We are also making this newservice runnable without a complete XiVO ecosystem. It will be possible to installxivo-dird on a dedicated server or in a container. The nature of the work doneon xivo-dird will also make it easy to run the service in a distributed manner. Withsome configuration, an administrator will be able to have many xivo-dird servers running behinda load balancer so that it may be used by many XiVOs simultaneously. For example:Avencall has one xivo per office but could use the same xivo-dird proxy for all offices.

archi-xivo-dird.svg

Architecture

We are also designing xivo-dird for extensibility and we are trying to makeplugins as easy as possible to create, making it easier for the community to contribute.

Plugins

Currently planned extension points include:

Backends

Backends are plugins that are used to query directory sources. This is where we find the logicfor retrieving data from a specific kind of technology. Backends include, but arenot limited to, ldap, csv, xivo-directory (the internal directory of a XiVO),xivo-personal-directory (user's personal contact).

HTTP views

HTTP views are different URLs that are exposed by the xivo-dird server. At themoment we know that we will have a json view that will be used by other XiVOservices to retrieve lookup results. Other views will be added to support otherneeds. Phones are a good example of consumers that require a customized view.Adding support for a new brand of phone to xivo-dird will be a matter of addingthe HTTP view plugin that formats the lookup results in a way that the phoneunderstands.

Core

The core of the application is responsible for loading all of the plugins.We will probably use a third party library for this job. We have a proof ofconcept using stevedoreat the moment. Concurrency is also managed by the core.

This kind of architecture will become the reference for other XiVO services. Having modular servicesthat can be executed independently from each other will allow us scale therequired parts of XiVO when needed.

You can look at the github repositoryto view the source code and follow our work. Note that the master branch does not include thiswork yet. The code in other branches are proof of concepts used to confirm that our architecturecould handle the kind of load we were aiming for and that our modular architecture could beachieved but this code is not meant for production and will be replaced once we write theproduction version.