Java Dynamic Management Kit 5.0 Tutorial

Filter Mechanism

The MBeanServerForwarder allows for the principle of stackable MBean servers. An MBeanServerForwarder implements the MBeanServer interface and one extra method called setMBeanServer. Its function is to receive requests and forward them to the designated MBean server.

The setMBeanServer method of a communicator server object enables you to specify the MBean server that fulfills its requests. By chaining one or more MBeanServerForwarder objects between a communicator server and the actual MBean server, the agent application creates a stack of objects that can process the requests before they reach the MBean server.

The MBeanServerChecker is an extension of the forwarder that forces each request to call a –checker method. By extending the MBeanServerChecker class and providing an implementation of the checker methods, you can define a policy for filtering requests before they reach the MBean server. Table 13–1 shows the checker methods that apply to groups of MBeanServer methods.

Table 13–1 Filter Method Granularity for Context Checking

Filter Method 

MBean Server Operations Filtered 


Every method of the MBeanServer interface


All forms of the create and registerMBean methods


The unregisterMBean method


All forms of the instantiate method


The invoke method that handles all operation invocations


Both addNotificationListener and removeNotificationListener


Both queryMBeans and queryNames


All methods that access but do not change the state of the agent: getAttribute, getAttributes, getObjectInstance, isRegistered, getMBeanCount, getDefaultDomain, getMBeanInfo, and isInstanceOf


The setAttribute and setAttributes methods

As a request passes through a stack of MBean servers, the checker methods are called to determine if the request is allowed. In order to identify the manager that issued a request, the checker can access the operation context of the request.

The operation context, or just context, is an object defined by the manager which seeks access through a context checker. It usually contains some description of the manager's identity. The only restriction on the context object is that it must implement the OperationContext interface. The context object is passed from the connector client to the connector server and is then associated with the execution of a request. Conceptually, this object is stored in the user accessible context of the thread that executes the request.

All methods in the MBeanServerChecker class can access the context object by calling the protected getOperationContext method. The methods of the context checker then implement some policy to filter requests based on the context object, the nature of the request, and the data provided in the request, such as the attribute or operation name.

Figure 13–1 shows the paths of two requests through a stack of MBean server implementations, one of which is stopped by the context checker because it does not provide the correct context.

Figure 13–1 Context Checking in Stackable MBean Servers

Using a context checker in stackable MBean servers

Only connectors fully support the context mechanism. Their connector clients expose the methods that allow the manager to specify the context object. Existing protocol adaptors have no way to specify a context. Their requests can be filtered and checked, but their context object will always be null.

This functionality can still be used to implement a filtering policy, but without a context object, straightforward manager identification is not possible. However, a proprietary protocol adaptor could define some mapping to determine a context object that could be accepted by the filters.