Computer Laboratory

Technical reports

An architecture for integrated services on the local area network

Stephen Ades

September 1987, 166 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted January 1987 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Trinity College.


This dissertation concerns the provision of integrated services in a local area context, e.g. on business premises. The term integrated services can be understood at several levels. At the lowest, one network may be used to carry traffic of several media—voice, data, images etc. Above that, the telephone exchange may be replaced by a more versatile switching system, incorporating facilities such as stored voice messages. Its facilities may be accessible to the user through the interface of the workstation rather than a telephone. At a higher level still, new services such as multi-media document manipulation may be added to the capabilities of a workstation.

Most of the work to date has been at the lowest of these levels, under the auspices of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), which mainly concerns wide area communications systems. The thesis presented here is that all of the above levels are important in a local area context. In an office environment, sophisticated data processing facilities in a workstation can usefully be combined with highly available telecommunications facilities such as the telephone, to offer the user new services which make the working day more pleasant and productive. That these facilities should be provided across one integrated network, rather than by several parallel single medium networks is an important organisational convenience to the system builder.

The work described in this dissertation is relevant principally in a local area context—in the wide area economics and traffic balance dictate that the emphasis will be on only the network level of integration for some time now. The work can be split into three parts:

i) the use of a packet network to carry mixed media. This has entailed design of packet voice protocols which produce delays low enough for the network to interwork with national telephone networks. The system has also been designed for minimal cost per telephone—packet-switched telephone systems have traditionally been more expensive than circuit-switched types. The network used as a foundation for this work has been the Cambridge Fast Ring.

ii) use of techniques well established in distributed computing systems to build an ‘integrated services PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange)’. Current PABX designs have a very short life expectancy and an alarmingly high proportion of their costs is due to software. The ideas presented here can help with both of these problems, produce an extensible system and provide a basis for new multi-media services.

iii) development of new user level Integrated Services. Work has been done in three areas. The first is multi-media documents. A voice editing interface is described along with the system structure required to support it. Secondly a workstation display has been built to support a variety of services based upon image manipulation and transmission. Finally techniques have been demonstrated by which a better interface to telephony functions can be provided to the user, using methods of control typical of workstation interfaces.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Ades, Stephen},
  title = 	 {{An architecture for integrated services on the local area
  year = 	 1987,
  month = 	 sep,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-114}