Network connectivity is no longer an expensive add-on. It has become a basic feature of almost any computing facility, gradually it will be found in products offered in parts of the consumer electronics market traditionally not associated with communications; for example Electrolux has made a networked refrigerator, NCR has announced a networked microwave oven etc.
On the same stage, mobile computers, or laptops, are becoming increasingly popular as users discover the benefits of having their work electronically available whenever needed. Such a user may occasionally connect to, and disconnect from the Internet.
In addition, the development of wireless technology release network nodes from being connected at a fixed geographical location and thereby bias the coming of so-called mobile computing. In Pittsburgh USA, at the Carnegie Mellon University, computer users are offered wireless connectivity to the Internet anywhere on campus.
Mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and devices like GPS-receivers, MP3-players and digital cameras seems to integrate into the same mobile unit. This opens for a new set of services. A user of such services would like to travel seamlessly between sites on the Internet without having to worry about which services are provided, or how they are provided. This will be a challenge for Internet service providers and software manufacturers.
In this master thesis we study how mobile agent technology may be utilized to support mobile users. We examine how we may support the mobile user with the same set of facilities at a visiting site as he has available at his home site. This thesis considers mobile agent technology in general, and presents some mobile agent platforms. We then identify some relevant requirements for a mobile agent platform which would fit the needs of our solution.
We also present some existing solutions like Jini and Salutation which support mobility of users. We look at how they work (their mode of operation), and how they provide facilities to the users.
The rest of this thesis describes how to represent and provide facilities such that their functionality and user preferences are preserved. Then we present our approach where we use mobile agent technology to support facility discovery and provision for mobile users.