Remoting NG

Remoting NG TCP Transport User Guide

Introduction

The TCP Transport is a very efficient Transport implementation, based on TCP (or SSL/TLS) sockets and a compact, binary message serialization format based on Poco::BinaryWriter. To further reduce the amount of data sent over the network, the serialized data can optionally be compressed using the deflate algorithm. This makes the Binary Transport well suited for distributed applications built entirely in C++, using Remoting NG, where interoperability with other middleware technologies is not required.

Basic TCP Transport Usage

Server Usage

To use the TCP Transport in a server, the following four steps must be performed:

  1. Create an instance of Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener,
  2. Optionally configure the listener (e.g., to change timeouts, etc.),
  3. Register the Listener with the ORB, and
  4. Register the individual objects with the ORB.

Following is an example code fragment for setting up a TCP Transport listener, and registering a service object for use with the listener.

Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener::Ptr pListener = new Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener("localhost:9999");
std::string listener = Poco::RemotingNG::ORB::instance().registerListener(pListener);

st::string uri = Sample::TimeServiceServerHelper::registerObject(
    new Sample::TimeService, 
    "TheTimeService", 
    listener
);

Please see the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener class documentation for detailed information about how to setup and configure the listener.

Client Usage

To use the TCP Transport in a client, the following two steps must be performed:

  1. Register the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::TransportFactory with the ORB, and
  2. Retrieve the interface (proxy) object using the helper class.

Following is an example code fragment for setting up a TCP Transport, and registering a service object for use with the transport.

Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::TransportFactory::registerFactory();
Sample::ITimeService::Ptr pTimeService = MyProject::MyClassHelper::find(
    "remoting.tcp://localhost:9999/tcp/TimeService/TheTimeService");
);

The TCP Transport uses the "remoting.tcp" URI scheme for identifying service objects.

Configuring The Client Transport

To configure the client transport (e.g., to enable compression), the TCP Transport object must be obtained from the proxy. This is done in two steps. First, the interface pointer obtained from the client helper must be casted to a proxy:

Poco::RemotingNG::Proxy::Ptr pProxy = pTimeService.cast<Poco::RemotingNG::Proxy>();

Second, the Transport object can be obtained from the proxy:

Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport& trans = static_cast<Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport&>(pProxy->remoting__transport());

Now that we have access to the Transport object, we can configure it:

trans.setTimeout(Poco::Timespan(10, 0));
trans.enableCompression(true);

Configuration should be done before the first method is invoked over the proxy.

Please see the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport class documentation for more information regarding configuration options.

The ConnectionManager

The socket connections used by the TCP Transport are managed by a Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::ConnectionManager instance. Unless otherwise specified, by passing a specific ConnectionManager instance to the constructor, the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::TransportFactory uses the default ConnectionManager instance (see Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::ConnectionManager::defaultManager()).

A custom ConnectionManager instance must be setup if secure sockets should be used. In this case, a ConnectionManager instance must be created with custom Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SocketFactory instance.

The ConnectionManager is also used to change the idle timeout of connections. The default idle timeout is one minute. This can be changed with a call to Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::ConnectionManager::setIdleTimeout(), passing a Poco::Timespan timeout value.

Performance Considerations

On the server side, the TCP Transport Listener uses a Poco::Net::TCPServer for handling incoming requests. Each client application maintains a single socket connection to the server, and the socket connection is usually kept open for the entire lifetime of the application. The connection is shared by all the client's proxy objects connected to the same server. It will be created the first time a proxy needs to send a request to the server. The underlying frame-based network protocol ensures that the connection is shared between all proxies in a fair way. The connection uses an idle timer, so if the connection has not been used for a certain time, it will be automatically closed. The next time a proxy sends a request to the server, the connection will be re-opened again.

The same client-initiated connection is also used by the server to deliver event messages to the client. This allows the server to deliver events even to clients behind a NAT router or firewall.

The performance of the TCP Transport is best when no namespaces are used and all remote method parameters are scalar. While the TCP Transport will ignore namespaces and element/attribute distinction, it will still be informed of them by de-/serializers which costs time. Also, the generated code will be more compact when namespaces are not used.

Serialization Pitfalls

Since the binary serialization format does not include type information, some care must be taken that only types with the same physical representation on both the client and the server are used. This mostly affects types with different physical representation on 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Examples are types like long or std::size_t. Such types should be avoided in remote interfaces. Fixed-size integer types, such as Poco::Int32 provide a safer alternative.

Authentication and Authorization

The TCP Transport supports two authentication methods out of the box: Plain and SCRAM-SHA-1.

The Plain authentication mechanism, implemented in the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::PlainClientAuthenticator class, simply transfers all attributes of the Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials object passed to the Transport on to the server. On the server-side, a suitable application-provided Poco::RemotingNG::Authenticator subclass must validate these credentials. Since credentials are transmitted in clear text, this mechanism should only be used over a secure TLS connection.

The SCRAM-SHA-1 (Salted Challenge Response Authentication Mechanism with SHA-1) authentication mechanism, implemented in the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMClientAuthenticator class, is a highly secure multi-step challenge-response authentication mechanism. It uses the PBKDF2 algorithm from the Public-Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS) and has the following features:

  • The password is never transmitted in plain text, only a hash of the password is transmitted from client to server.
  • The server does not need to store the passwords in plain text (or encrypted); salted hashes of the passwords are sufficient.
  • The protocol allows for authenticating the client against the server and also authenticating the server against the client.

In order to enable authentication between a client and a server, the following steps must be performed:

  • On the client, a Poco::RemotingNG::ClientAuthenticator instance must be registered with the Transport. Furthermore, valid Credentials must be passed to the Transport.
  • On the server side, a Poco::RemotingNG::Authenticator instance must be registered with the Listener. If authorization is also required, a Poco::RemotingNG::Authorizer instance must be registered with the Listener as well.

Generally, suitable Poco::RemotingNG::Authenticator and Poco::RemotingNG::Authorizer implementations must be provided by the application, as Remoting NG has no built in user credentials and permissions database.

Plain Authentication

The following examples show how to enable Plain authentication with the TCP Transport.

Client

To enable Plain authentication on the client, a Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::PlainClientAuthenticator must be registered with the Transport, and Credentials must be supplied.

Poco::RemotingNG::Proxy::Ptr pProxy = pService.cast<Poco::RemotingNG::Proxy>();
Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport& trans = static_cast<Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport&>(pProxy->remoting__transport());

trans.setAuthenticator(new Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::PlainClientAuthenticator);

Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials creds;
creds.setAttribute(Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials::ATTR_USERNAME, "user");
creds.setAttribute(Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials::ATTR_PASSWORD, "s3cr3t");
trans.setCredentials(creds);

Server

To enable Plain authentication on the server, a Poco::RemotingNG::Authenticator must be registered with the Listener.

Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener::Ptr pListener = new Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener("localhost:9999");
pListener->setAuthenticator(new SimpleAuthenticator);

The SimpleAuthenticator class referenced in the example must be provided by the application. A very simplistic implementation could look like this:

using Poco::RemotingNG::AuthenticateResult;
using Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials;

class SimpleAuthenticator: public Poco::RemotingNG::Authenticator
{
public:
    AuthenticateResult authenticate(const Credentials& creds, Poco::UInt32 /*conversationID*/)
    {
        std::string username = creds.getAttribute(Credentials::ATTR_USERNAME, "");
        std::string password = creds.getAttribute(Credentials::ATTR_PASSWORD, "");

        if (username == "user" && password == "s3cr3t")
            return AuthenticateResult(AuthenticateResult::AUTH_DONE, creds);
        else
            return AuthenticateResult(AuthenticateResult::AUTH_FAILED);
    }
};

A typical implementation would look up the username in a database and compare a hash of the provided password with the one stored in the database.

SCRAM-SHA-1 Authentication

The following examples show how to enable SCRAM-SHA-1 authentication with the TCP Transport.

Client

To enable SCRAM-SHA-1 authentication on the client, a Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMClientAuthenticator must be registered with the Transport, and Credentials must be supplied.

Poco::RemotingNG::Proxy::Ptr pProxy = pService.cast<Poco::RemotingNG::Proxy>();
Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport& trans = static_cast<Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Transport&>(pProxy->remoting__transport());

trans.setAuthenticator(new Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMClientAuthenticator);

Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials creds;
creds.setAttribute(Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials::ATTR_USERNAME, "user");
creds.setAttribute(Poco::RemotingNG::Credentials::ATTR_PASSWORD, "s3cr3t");
trans.setCredentials(creds);

Server

To enable SCRAM-SHA-1 authentication on the server, a Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMAuthenticator subclass must be provided and registered with the Listener.

Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener::Ptr pListener = new Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener("localhost:9999");
pListener->setAuthenticator(new MySCRAMAuthenticator);

The MySCRAMAuthenticator class referenced in the example must be provided by the application. It must implement two virtual methods defined by Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMAuthenticator:

  • hashForUser(): Returns the PBKDF2-hashed password for the given user.
  • saltForUser(): Returns the salt for hashing the given user's password, as well as the number of iterations for the PBKDF2 algorithm.

See the Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMAuthenticator class documentation for more information.

Note that passwords must be hashed in a specific way for use with Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMAuthenticator. The following code sample shows how to hash a password. The resulting has can be stored in a database and must be returned by Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SCRAMAuthenticator::hashForUser().

In the first step, a MD5 hash of the password is generated, salted with a fixed string.

Poco::MD5Engine md5;
md5.update(username);
md5.update(std::string(":poco:"));
md5.update(password);
std::string hashedPassword = SCRAMAuthenticator::digestToHexString(md5);

In the second step, the MD5 hash is again hashed with the PBKDF2 algorithm.

int iterations;
std::string salt = saltForUser(username, iterations);

Poco::PBKDF2Engine<Poco::HMACEngine<Poco::SHA1Engine> > pbkdf2(salt, iterations, 20);
pbkdf2.update(hashedPassword);
return SCRAMAuthenticator::digestToBinaryString(pbkdf2);

Using The TCP Transport With TLS

The TCP Transport normally uses a plain TCP socket connection between the client and the server. To make the TCP Transport use a secure TLS socket connection, the following steps must be performed.

TLS On The Server Side

On the server side, the listener must be created using a Poco::Net::SecureServerSocket.

Poco::Net::SecureServerSocket serverSocket(10001);
Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener::Ptr pListener = new Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::Listener("localhost:10001", serverSocket, 0);
std::string listener = Poco::RemotingNG::ORB::instance().registerListener(pListener);

st::string uri = Sample::TimeServiceServerHelper::registerObject(
    new Sample::TimeService, 
    "TheTimeService", 
    listener
);

TLS On The Client Side

On the client side, a Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::ConnectionManager must be created with a user-supplied socket factory (Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SocketFactory) that, depending on the actual protocol used, creates either a Poco::Net::StreamSocket, or a Poco::Net::SecureStreamSocket. A simple implementation is shown below:

class SecureSocketFactory: public Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::SocketFactory
{
public:
    Poco::Net::StreamSocket createSocket(const Poco::URI& uri)
    {
        Poco::Net::SocketAddress addr(uri.getHost(), uri.getPort());
        if (uri.getScheme() == "remoting.tcps")
            return Poco::Net::SecureStreamSocket(addr);
        else
            return Poco::Net::StreamSocket(addr);
    }
};

Our own ConnectionManager instance using the SecureSocketFactory is then passed used to register the TransportFactory.

Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::ConnectionManager connMgr(new SecureSocketFactory);    
Poco::RemotingNG::TCP::TransportFactory::registerFactory(connMgr);

The proxy using a secure connection can then be obtained by passing a "remoting.tcps"-scheme URI to the client helper:

Sample::ITimeService::Ptr pTimeService = MyProject::MyClassHelper::find(
    "remoting.tcps://localhost:10001/tcp/TimeService/TheTimeService");
);