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Publication numberUS20060072583 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/167,745
Publication dateApr 6, 2006
Filing dateJun 27, 2005
Priority dateJun 28, 2004
Also published asEP1766926A1, EP1766927A1, EP1766928A2, EP1766931A1, US7760882, US20060023738, US20060064588, US20060075467, US20060075472, US20060075506, WO2006004784A1, WO2006004785A1, WO2006004786A1, WO2006004928A2, WO2006004928A3, WO2006004930A1, WO2006012058A1, WO2006012346A1
Publication number11167745, 167745, US 2006/0072583 A1, US 2006/072583 A1, US 20060072583 A1, US 20060072583A1, US 2006072583 A1, US 2006072583A1, US-A1-20060072583, US-A1-2006072583, US2006/0072583A1, US2006/072583A1, US20060072583 A1, US20060072583A1, US2006072583 A1, US2006072583A1
InventorsFrank Sanda, Naohisa Fukuda, Edward Laves, Robert Johnston, Justin Tidwell, Raymond Gurgone, David Robins, Laura Worthington, Karlton Zeitz
Original AssigneeSanda Frank S, Naohisa Fukuda, Laves Edward W, Johnston Robert L, Tidwell Justin O, Gurgone Raymond T, Robins David S, Worthington Laura J, Zeitz Karlton M
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics
US 20060072583 A1
Abstract
Systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics are described. One aspect of one described embodiment includes receiving performance metrics associated with a plurality of network connections to a plurality of networks, each of the plurality of network connections associated with a client device; determining a status of one of the plurality of networks based at least in part on the performance metrics; and providing the status of the one of the plurality of networks to a user interface.
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Claims(18)
1. A method comprising:
receiving performance metrics associated with a plurality of network connections to a plurality of networks, each of the plurality of network connections associated with a client device;
determining a status of one of the plurality of networks based at least in part on the performance metrics; and
providing the status of one of the plurality of networks to a user interface.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving performance metrics comprises receiving an SNMP trap.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance metrics comprise a VPN status.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein the VPN status comprises the VPN state and the VPN throughput.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance metrics comprise a measure of health of the client device.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance metrics comprise a measure of health of the network.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance metrics comprise at least one datum selected from the group consisting of a network node identifier, a transport identifier, a start time, a connection duration, a bytes sent quantity, a bytes received quantity, a data rate up quantity, a data rate down quantity, a protocol identifier, an application identifier, a success code, a signal strength quantity, a network type code, a packet size quantity, a CPU utilization quantity, a memory consumption quantity, a power level quantity, a disk space quantity, a device identifier, and a termination cause.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the status of the one of the plurality of networks comprises a problem.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein the problem comprises congestion.
10. The method of claim 8, wherein the status of the one of the plurality of networks comprises a bill reconciliation status.
11. The method of claim 8, wherein the status of the one of the plurality of networks comprises a capacity planning status.
12. The method of claim 1, further comprising generating a carrier audit report comprising the status of the one of the plurality of networks.
13. The method of claim 12, wherein the carrier audit report comprises a plurality of carriers.
14. The method of claim 1, further comprising generating a security-related policy based at least in part on the performance metrics.
15. The method of claim 1, wherein providing the status of the one of the plurality of networks to a user interface comprises generating an alert.
16. The method of claim 1, wherein the user interface comprises a web portal.
17. A computer-readable medium on which is encoded program code, the program code comprising:
program code for receiving performance metrics associated with a plurality of network connections, each of the plurality of network connections associated with a client device and a network;
program code for determining a status of the one of the plurality of networks based at least in part on the performance metrics; and
program code for providing the status of the one of the plurality of networks to a user interface.
18. A system comprising:
a real-time monitor operable to:
receive performance metrics associated with a plurality of network connections, each of the plurality of network connections associated with a client device and a network;
determine a status of one of the plurality of networks based at least in part on the performance metrics; and
a portal in communication with the real-time monitor and operable to provide the status of the one of the plurality of networks in a user interface.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to Application Ser. No. 60/583,765, filed on Jun. 28, 2004, titled “Controlling Use of a Mobile Work Station Based on Network Environment,” Application Ser. No. 60/598,364, filed on Aug. 3, 2004, titled “Systems and Methods for Enhancing and Optimizing a User's Experience on an Electronic Device,” Application Ser. No. 60/652,121, filed on Feb. 11, 2005, titled “Remote Access Services,” and Application Ser. No. 60/653,411, filed on Feb. 16, 2005, titled “Creating an Environment for Secure Mobile Access Anywhere,” the entirety of all of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to computer networking and, more particularly to systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics.

BACKGROUND

As the workforce becomes more mobile, enterprises often must rely on unfamiliar networks to provide remote network access. Enterprises and their users have increasing options in selecting methods of connecting to the enterprise network as well as other resources, such as the Internet. With this added choice comes added complexity, both in service offerings and the associated charges, as well as the potential for inconsistency in service.

And each remote method for connecting to an enterprise network offers a tradeoff between cost, performance, and convenience. For instance, a wired network connection might be faster and less costly than a cellular network connection, but less convenient for a mobile user. Also, since each connection type may be purchased from a different network provider, the enterprise must reconcile charges from each of the providers for each of the users accessing the network remotely.

In conventional networks, enterprises are not able to determine precisely where problems are occurring in provider networks. Further, enterprises are unable to determine the best connection for each individual user given the place where the user is accessing the enterprise's network, Internet, or other service. When the data is available, it is often out-of-date and of less value than real-time data would be.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the present invention provide systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics. One aspect of one embodiment of the present invention comprises receiving performance metrics associated with a plurality of network connections to a plurality of networks, each of the plurality of network connections associated with a client device; determining a status of one of the plurality of networks based at least in part on the performance metrics; and providing the status of the one of the plurality of networks to a user interface. In another embodiment, a computer-readable medium (such as, for example random access memory or a computer disk) comprises code for carrying out such a method.

This illustrative embodiment is mentioned not to limit or define the invention, but to provide one example to aid understanding thereof. Illustrative embodiments are discussed in the Detailed Description, and further description of the invention is provided there. Advantages offered by the various embodiments of the present invention may be further understood by examining this specification.

FIGURES

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention are better understood when the following Detailed Description is read with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an illustrative environment for implementation of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a security server 104 in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on an enterprise server 106 in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a process for collecting and storing performance metrics in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a process for providing a network status to a user interface in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a process for determining a status of the network in one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a method for providing the status of the network to a user interface in another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics. There are multiple embodiments of the present invention. By way of introduction and example, one illustrative embodiment of the present invention provides a method for receiving and analyzing performance metrics associated with various network carriers used by clients of an enterprise to access the enterprise's network.

The metrics may include information such as throughput rate, protocol used, application identifier, and other performance and network-related measures. A Quality of Service (“QoS”) server uses the performance metrics to determine the status of the networks. For instance, the QoS server may determine that a particular carrier's network in one city or neighborhood in that city is unstable based on the throughput rate of that network segment or based on some other measure.

The QoS server provides the status of the network to a user and may provide alerts based on predetermined events and thresholds. For instance, in one embodiment, the user accesses a portal. The portal provides a visual alert to the user, indicating that the network segment is unstable. The portal may provide other information as well, such as the relative costs of various networks. In one embodiment, real-time analysis of the data occurs, and information from that real-time analysis is weighted in terms of level of urgency. Based on this level of urgency, a determination is made as to how the information should be dealt with. For instance the data may simply be stored for logging purposes or sent to an internal or external customer service representative.

In addition to basic performance monitoring, an embodiment of the present invention may provide the enterprise with the ability to define certain events that, when they occur, trigger an alarm on a portal. One example of such a user-defined event might be “if a single user is logged on more than once in geographically disparate areas, post an alert.”

This introduction is given to introduce the reader to the general subject matter of the application. By no means is the invention limited to such subject matter. Illustrative embodiments are described below.

System Architecture

Various systems in accordance with the present invention may be constructed. Referring now to the drawings in which like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several figures, FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an illustrative environment for implementation of one embodiment of the present invention. The system shown in FIG. 1 includes a client 102. The client is in communication with a security server 104.

Communication with the security server 104 occurs via a network 108. The network 108 may comprise a public or private network and may include the Internet. The network may also comprise a plurality of networks, including, for example, dedicated phone lines between the various components. In one embodiment, the client 102 communicates with the security server 104 via a virtual private network (“VPN”) established over the Internet.

The security server 104 is also in communication with an enterprise server 106 via a network. The network 108 may comprise various elements, both wired and wireless. In one embodiment, the communication between the security server 104 and enterprise server 106 occurs over a static VPN established over dedicated communication lines.

In one embodiment, a user connects a client device 102 to the network 108 using a network access user interface. The network access user interface is always on and only allows the user to connect to the network 108 via the interface. The network access user interface automatically causes the client 102 to connect to the security server 104 through the network 108. The security server 104 provides value added services to the client 102 and to one or more enterprises. Access to other services, such as the Internet, may be provided via the security server 104.

Although FIG. 1 includes only a single client 102, security server 104, and enterprise server 106, an embodiment of the present invention will typically include a plurality of clients 102 and may include a plurality of security servers 104 and enterprise servers 106.

Client Devices

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention. Examples of client device 102 are personal computers, digital assistants, personal digital assistants, cellular phones, mobile phones, smart phones, pagers, digital tablets, laptop computers, Internet appliances, and other processor-based devices. In general, a client device 102 may be any suitable type of processor-based platform that is connected to the network 108, and that interacts with one or more application programs. The client device 102 can contain a processor coupled to a computer-readable medium, such as RAM. Client device 102 may operate on any operating system, such as Microsoft® Windows® or Linux. The client device 102 is, for example, a laptop computer executing a network access user interface.

The modules shown in FIG. 2 represent functionality of the client 102. The modules may be implemented as one or more computer programs that include one or more modules. For instance, in one embodiment, all the modules shown in FIG. 2 are contained within a single network access application. Also, the functionality shown on the client 102 may be implemented on a server in other embodiments of the present invention. Likewise, functionality shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 as being on a server may be implemented on the client 102 in some embodiments of the present invention.

The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 comprises a VPN client 202. The VPN client 202 allows the client 102 to connect to the enterprise server 106. In one embodiment of the present invention, the VPN client 202 is used to determine whether or not the VPN client 202 is active and whether or not the VPN client 202 is connected to a VPN server. For instance, an embodiment of the present invention may determine whether or not to connect to a particular service based on whether or not the VPN client 202 is enabled.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the VPN client 202 is used for four purposes: (1) to manage policy files, which include information, such as a gateway Internet Protocol (IP) address, secrecy and authentication level, and hash; (2) automatically connecting a VPN; (3) automatically disconnecting the VPN; and (4) monitoring the status of the VPN. Each of these four purposes may be affected by other modules, including, for example, the connection manager 210.

The client 102 also comprises a secure vault 204. The secure vault 204 protects content on the client 102. In one embodiment, the secure vault 204 is responsible for storing encrypted content on the client 102 and allowing access to the encrypted content based on a set of permissions or policies. In such an embodiment, a content creator can provide access via a viewer to secured content and allow a recipient of the content read-only access or allow the recipient to perform other tasks, such as modifying the content and forwarding it to other users. In another embodiment, the secure vault 204 allows the user to create and distribute secure content to other clients 102, the content creator can decide to send a document to several users and allow two of the users full access and one of the users read-only access.

The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a firewall 206. The firewall 206 allows port blocking via predefined policies. For instance, in one embodiment, an information technology (“IT”) manager specifies port blocking based on two zones, a safe zone and a dangerous zone. The IT manager specifies one of these two zones for each of the network interface devices installed on the client 102. The IT manager is then able to set port-blocking rules by zone on the firewall 206.

For example, the IT manager may classify a Wireless Fidelity (“Wi-Fi”) network interface as dangerous since it has traditionally been considered fairly unsafe. And the IT manager may apply more restrictive port-blocking rules to the dangerous zone than to the safe zone and network interface devices, such as those used to connect to a wired Local Area Network (“LAN”) or a Personal Handyphone System (“PHS”) cellular connection. The PHS standard is a TDD-TDMA based microcellular wireless communications technology and has been traditionally considered relatively safer than Wi-Fi connections. The PHS cellular connection may also be referred to as a wireless wide area network (“WWAN”) as opposed to a dial-up connection providing access to a wide area network (“WAN”).

In various other embodiments, the port-blocking rules of the firewall 206 may be based on time of day, client IP address, terminating IP address, terminating and originating port, protocol, and other variables. In one embodiment, the port-blocking rules are based on policy data associated with individual users logged into the client 102.

In one embodiment, the port-blocking rules of the firewall 206 include a blacklist. The blacklist allows an IT manager to prevent an application from executing on the client 102. For instance, an IT manager may blacklist a DVD player so that a user is unable to view DVD's on the client 102. The firewall 206 may provide a message to the user informing the user that an application is unavailable.

In another embodiment, the firewall 206 implements a white list. The white list is somewhat more restrictive than the blacklist described above. The white list allows only specified applications to execute. For example, an IT manager may allow only MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook to execute. No other applications will be permitted to execute. The firewall 206 may be a custom firewall or a third-party firewall integrated into an embodiment of the present invention.

The embodiment shown in FIG. 2 also includes an antivirus module 208. The antivirus module 208 shown determines whether policy files, virus dictionary, or other virus-related resources are out of date and provides the client 102 with a mechanism for updating the files or data. The antivirus module 208 may restrict access to various connections, applications, and other functionality when the policy files are out of date. For instance, the antivirus module 208 may restrict the client 102 to connecting to a single gateway through which the policy files are available. In one embodiment, the antivirus module 208 comprises a third-party antivirus product that is integrated with the other modules on the client 102.

The client 102 also comprises a connection manager 210, which includes a rules processor. In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 assigns a priority number to every connection, e.g., one to one hundred, and selects the connection with the highest number to connect to.

The connection manager 210 may provide a connection to a variety of networks, including, for example, dial-up, LAN, digital subscriber line (“DSL”), cable modem, Wi-Fi, wireless local area network (“WLAN”), PHS, and satellite.

In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 differentiates between public and private connections. A public connection is a connection provided by a service provider who has a relationship with the administrator of the security server 104, which allows the security server 104 to authenticate the connection. For instance, the security server 104 administrator may have a business arrangement with a hotspot provider. In order to connect, the client 102 connects to a local access point and the authentication of the user occurs automatically at the security server 104. In contrast, a private connection requires that all aspects of the authentication mechanism for a connection be managed in the absence of the security server 104, although the connection manager may provide certain facilities to allow for automated authentication where possible.

In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 makes connections available or unavailable to the client 102 based on policies present on the client 102. The connection manager 210 may also download changes to policy data and transmit quality of service (“QoS”) and other data to the security server 104 or the enterprise server 106.

In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 determines the type of connections that are available based on signals provided by hardware associated with the client 102. For example, when the client 102 passes near a hotspot, a Wi-Fi card in the client 102 senses the hotspot and sends a signal to the connection manager 210. For instance, the Wi-Fi card may sense a broadcast service set identifier (“SSID”). Once the signal exceeds a threshold, the connection manager 210 provides a signal to a user of the client 102 that the network is available or may automatically connect to the hotspot. Alternatively, the Wi-Fi card may poll for a non-broadcast SSID. The connection manager 210 may provide a single connection to the client 102 at one time or may provide multiple connections to the client 102.

The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a QoS collector 212. The QoS collector 212 collects data values, including, for example, the number of bytes sent and received, the average transfer rate, the average signal strength at connection, termination cause, failed connections, and a network identifier. In another embodiment, the QoS collector 212 collects data during the session to determine when a connection provides inconsistent performance.

In one embodiment, the QoS collector 212 collects data regarding a connection during a session but does not send the data for a session until the next session. Thus, if a session is terminated abnormally, the QoS data will still be collected and transferred successfully. In another embodiment, the QoS collector 212 transfers data only when a particular type of connection is detected, such as a high-speed or low cost connection.

The client 102 also comprises a session statistics module 214. The session statistics module stores data representing user characteristics. For instance, the session statistic module 214 may store a list of the applications a user generally accesses, how often the user is connected, the typical CPU and memory utilization measure, keyboard sequences, and other characteristics of a user. If a particular user deviates from the expected characteristics by greater than a threshold, such as N standard deviations, and the significance of the statistic is more than a specified amount, the session statistics module 214 can identify the current user as a potential unauthorized user.

The session statistics module 214 may perform other tasks as well. For instance, in one embodiment, the session statistics module 214 pre-loads applications based on a user's general usage patterns.

The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a policy reader 216. In one embodiment, a company's policies are housed on the enterprise server 106. For instance, individual groups and users within an enterprise are identified and associated with policies, such as what types of connections they are able to access and what a user's VPN profile is. The user may also be able to specify a VPN policy on the client 102. In such an embodiment, the policy reader 216 downloads the policy rules from the enterprise server 106 and accesses local user policies and reconciles any conflicts between the two.

For example, an IT manager may establish a VPN profile to be used by a user when connecting to a Wi-Fi network. However, the user may wish to create a secondary VPN profile to be used if the first VPN becomes unavailable. The policy reader 216 loads both local and enterprise VPN profiles, resolving any conflict between the two VPN profiles.

In one embodiment, the policy reader 216 accesses data at an enterprise, department, and user level. In such an embodiment, some of the policy rules may be stored in a lightweight directory access protocol (“LDAP”) server on the client 102, security server 104, or enterprise server 106. In another embodiment, the policy reader 216 receives only changes to policy data and does not typically download all of the policy data at once. Policies downloaded by the policy reader 216 may be provided to the rules processor of the connection manager 210.

The client 102 may also comprises a client security module 216. In one embodiment, the client security module 216 implements a client asset protection process. When the client security module 216 receives a signal indicating that the client asset protection process is to be executed, the client security module 216 may, for example, disable devices and interfaces on the client device 102 and may, in some embodiments, encrypt the hard drive of the client device 102 so that the files stored on the drive are not easily accessible.

The client 102 may also comprise a user interface 220. The user interface 220 may control the underlying operating environment or the user's view of the underlying environment. For example, in one embodiment, the user interface 220 supplants the Microsoft® Windows operating system interface from the user's perspective. In other words, the user is unable to access many of the standard Windows features. Such a user interface may be implemented to limit the applications and configuration setting a user is able to access. In some embodiments, such as a personal digital assistant (“PDA”), no user interface is provided by an embodiment of the present invention; the standard PDA user interface is utilized.

The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a security agent 222. In some embodiments, the security agent 222 is also referred to as a “bomb.” In one embodiment, an IT manager indicates that the security agent 222 should be activated when the client 102 next connects to the enterprise server 106. The IT manager may do so because the client 102 has been reported stolen. Subsequently, the client 102 connects to the enterprise server 106, either directly or indirectly and receives the message to initiate the security agent 222.

In one embodiment, when the security agent 222 activates, it stops all applications from being able to run and encrypts the data on the hard drive of the client 102. For instance, the security agent 222 may implement a white list as described above and then implement a secure vault for all data on the client 102. The connection manager 210 may also be configured so that no connections are possible.

In one such embodiment, since the data is merely encrypted by security agent 222, rather than erased, the data may be recovered if the client 102 is subsequently recovered. For instance, the enterprise may retain the key needed for decrypting the local drive. The client 102 is returned to the enterprise, which then decrypts the drive. In another embodiment, the data on the local drive of the client is rendered inaccessible by, for example, writing over the data multiple times.

The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises an out-of-band communication receiver 224. The out-of-band communication receiver 224 allows the client to receive communications other than through a network-based connection. The connection manager 210 may manage the out-of-band communication. For instance, the command to activate the security agent 222 may be transferred via a short messaging service (“SMS”) communication received by the out-of-band communication receiver 224.

Security Server

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a security server 104 in one embodiment of the present invention. The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 comprises a remote authentication dial-in user service (“RADIUS”) server 302, which may also be referred to as an AAA (authentication, authorization, and accounting) server. RADIUS is the standard by which applications and devices communicate with an AAA server.

The RADIUS server 302 provides authentication services on the security server 104. In some embodiments of the present invention, the RADIUS server 302 proxies to a RADIUS server on the enterprise server 106. In one embodiment, the RADIUS server 302 provides mutual authentication for the client 102 using Extensible Authentication Protocol Transport Layer Security (“EAP-TLS”). Although EAP-TLS itself is strictly an 802.1x authentication protocol, designed primarily for Wi-Fi connections, the underlying TLS authentication protocol may be deployed in both wired and wireless networks. EAP-TLS performs mutual secured sockets layer (“SSL”) authentication. This requires both the client device 102 and the RADIUS server 302 to have a certificate. In mutual authentication, each side may prove its identity to the other using its certificate and its private key.

The security server shown in FIG. 3 also comprises an LDAP server 304. The LDAP server 304 uses the LDAP protocol, which provides a mechanism for locating users, organizations, and other resources on the network. In one embodiment of the present invention, the LDAP server 304 provides access control at the network layer to various components that an enterprise customer may or may not purchase. For example, a customer may choose to implement a secure vault as described in relation to FIG. 1. In such a case, the customer or users or groups associated with the customer are also associated with the firewall module. The LDAP entry is then used to determine that the firewall is to be enabled on a client.

In some embodiments, the LDAP server 304 is implemented as a list of user identifiers not using the LDAP protocol. In another embodiment, data in the LDAP server 304 is propagated from data present in the enterprise server 106.

The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a session manager 306. The session manager 306 controls sessions, including sessions between the client 102 and enterprise server 106. In some embodiments, the session manager 306 also determines how to route data requests. For instance, the session manager 306 may determine that a particular data request should be routed to the Internet rather than to the enterprise server 106. This may be referred to as “splitting the pipe” and provides a mechanism to replace “split tunneling” (a traditional configuration option with most standard VPN clients) at the client device by the more secure split of traffic not intended for the enterprise at the security server, allowing monitoring of all traffic without the enterprise incurring the expense of the extra bandwidth required.

In some embodiments, the client 102 and enterprise server 106 establish a VPN for communication. In such an embodiment, the session manager 306 may be unable to route requests to any location other than the enterprise—the packets are encrypted and thus, cannot be separately evaluated.

In one embodiment, the session manager 306 performs automated authentication of a client device 102 or user. For example, if the session manager 306 determines that a client 102 is approaching a Wi-Fi hotspot, the session manager 306 is able to pre-populate the hotspot with the certificate that the hotspot requires to authenticate the user. In this manner, the authentication appears very fast to the user. The session manager 306 may also control the manner in which data is queued for download to the client device 102.

In one such embodiment, the session manager 306 provides two modes for data queuing. In a first mode, the session manager 306 determines that the network down time will be brief, e.g., the user is moving through a tunnel, which interferes with network access. In such a case, the session manager queues a minimal amount of data. In a second mode, the session manager 306 determines that the network down time will be of a longer duration, e.g., the user is boarding a plane from New York to Tokyo. In such a case, the session manager 306 may queue a larger amount of data. In one such embodiment, the session manager 306 determines the mode by querying the user for the downtime interval. When the user reconnects to the security server 104, the session manager 306 determines the best manner of downloading the queued data and begins the download.

In one embodiment, the session manager 306 comprises a packet shaper (not shown). The packet shaper provides various functional capabilities to the session manager 306. For example, in one embodiment, the packet shaper provides a mechanism for prioritizing packets sent between the enterprise server 106 and the client 102. In one embodiment, the packet shaper utilizes Multiprotocol Label Switching (“MPLS”). MPLS allows a specific path to be specified for a given sequence of packets. MPLS allows most packets to be forwarded at the switching (layer 2) level rather than at the (routing) layer 3 level. MPLS provides a means for providing QoS for data transmissions, particularly as networks begin to carry more varied traffic.

The session manager 306 may also provide session persistence capabilities. For instance, in one embodiment, when a user drops a connection or moves from one provider network coverage area to another, the connection manager 306 persists a virtual connection as the first connection is terminated and the second is initiated.

The session manager 306 may include a server-side rules engine. The server-side rules engine may use historical information, such as the session statistics described above, for statistical attack determination. For instance, session manager 306 may access a stored statistic regarding a client device 102 and based on monitoring of the current statistics for the client device 102 determine that an unauthorized user is using the client device 102.

The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a real-time monitor 308. The real-time monitor 308 monitors the status of communications, such as which clients and users are logged on, the amount of data being transferred, ongoing QoS measures, ports in use, and other information.

When the real-time monitor 308 detects a problem, it may issue an alert to network support. In one embodiment, data from the real-time monitor 308 is provided to users via a portal available on the security server 308. In another embodiment, the real-time portal 308 transfers information to the enterprise server 106, from which users access the data.

The embodiment shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a historical monitor 310. The historical monitor 310 provides information similar to the real-time monitor 310. However, the underlying data is historical in nature. For instance, in one embodiment, the historical monitor 310 provides audit information for making intelligent business decisions and for dealing with regulatory compliance issues.

The information available via the historical monitor 310 may include, for example, historical QoS data, registration compliance data, and metrics consistency data. The historical data monitor 310 may be used to determine that certain clients are not performing optimally by comparing metrics of various clients over time. For instance, by evaluating information available via the historical data monitor 310, a support person may be able to determine that a radio tuner on a specific client device 102 is failing. If the user of one client device 102 is complaining about the availability of service, but other users are able to successfully access service, then the client device's radio may be the problem.

The historical data monitor 310 may also be used to reconcile information captured on the security server 104 regarding connections and data provided by telecommunication carriers. The data may be used to determine when certain resources need to be increased and when a certain carrier is not performing adequately.

The security server also comprises a database 312. In embodiments of the present invention, the database 312 may be any type of database, including, for example, MySQL, Oracle, or Microsoft SQL Server relational databases. Also, although the database 312 is shown as a single database in FIG. 2, the database 312 may actually comprise multiple databases, multiple schemas within one or more databases, and multiples tables within one or more schemas. The database 312 may also be present on one or more other machines, e.g., database servers.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the database 312 stores customer information regarding enterprises served by the security server 104, such as a list of valid users, a list of valid cellular cards, the relationships between the individual users and groups within the enterprise, and other customer information.

For example, in one embodiment, the database 312 stores an association between users and cellular data cards. The enterprise may allocate a single user to a specific data card. Alternatively, the enterprise may associate a group of users with a group of cellular data cards. Other types of data may also be stored in the database 312, such as billing data.

The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a QoS server 314. The QoS server 314 uploads information from the QoS collector 212 on the client device 102 and stores the QoS data. The QoS server 314 can collect data from multiple clients and store it in the database 312.

The security server also comprises a QoS tools engine 316. The QoS tools engine 316 displays data made available by the QoS server 314 and other processes, such as the real-time monitor 308.

In one embodiment, the QoS tools engine 316 provides an aggregation of QoS data in a spreadsheet. In another embodiment, the QoS tools engine 316 provides data using map views, pie charts, and graphs. The QoS tools engine 316 may also provide the capability for setting QoS-based alarms and may provide data to users via a portal.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the security server 104 also comprises a portal server 318. The portal server 318 may be, for example, a web server. Any standard web server application may be utilized, including Microsoft® Internet Information Server (“IIS”) or Apache.

Although the security server 104 shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 is illustrated as a single server, it may comprise multiple servers. For example, in one embodiment of the present invention, the security server 104 comprises multiple regional servers.

Also, the description above suggests that data is provided to and queried from the security server 104 by the client 102, i.e., the client pulls the data. However, in some embodiments, the client 102 also comprises a listener (not shown) so that the security server 104 can push data to the client 102.

Enterprise Server

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on an enterprise server 106 in one embodiment of the present invention. The enterprise server 106 may also be referred to herein as a customer server and may comprise one or more servers for one or more enterprises linked to one or more security servers 104.

The enterprise server 106 shown in FIG. 4 comprises a policy server 402. The policy server 402 provides a means for managing the policy rules, including, for example, available VPN profiles, available transports (e.g. Wi-Fi, LAN, PHS, Dialup), firewall rules, such as blacklists and white lists, connection rules, and antivirus rules. The policy server 402 may include other rules as well, such as the level of data throttling to perform for each client or group of clients. Data throttling limits the data transfer rate to a particular client 102 so that connection resources can be optimized.

The policies may be managed at one or more levels. For example, an IT manager may wish to create a VPN profile for the enterprise as a whole, but a different VPN profile for an engineering group since the engineering group needs access to various unique applications.

The policy server 412 may also provide a mechanism for configuring the location of various servers that the client 102 will utilize. For instance, the policy server 412 may allow an IT manager to specify the IP address of an acceleration server 404 or a vault server 406

In one embodiment, the policy server also allows the IT manager to specify which users receive updates for various components on the client 102. The policy server 402 may also allow the IT manager to perform connection configuration. For instance, the IT manager may use the policy server to specify phone numbers for PHS connections, Wi-Fi SSID's for private connections, and other connection configuration information.

The enterprise server 106 shown in FIG. 4 also comprises an acceleration server 404. The acceleration server 404 performs processes to improve the performance of data transfer. For instance, the acceleration server 404 may automatically compress images that are to be transferred to a client 102.

In one embodiment, the acceleration server 404 communicates with the policy server 402. An IT manager sets acceleration rules using the policy server 402, and the acceleration server 404 uses these rules to determine what level of acceleration to use for a particular communication. In one embodiment, the IT manager sets a default level of acceleration for all communication and a specific level of acceleration for one group of users. The specific level of acceleration may be referred to as an override.

The enterprise server 106 also comprises a vault server 406. The vault server comprises two components, an automatic component and an administration component. In one embodiment, the automatic component integrates with an enterprise's mail server (not shown) and performs operations on emails to and from the mail server. For instance, the vault server 406 may quarantine an email, automatically encrypt the email before it is sent, add a legal disclaimer to an email, or perform other functions on the email.

In one embodiment, the automatic component of the vault server 406 searches an email based on words or based on the domain or specific address to which the email is addressed or from which the email originated. Using this information, the user can perform functions on the email, such as those described above.

The administration component of the vault server 406 allows a user to terminate access to secure content, either by a specific user or by all users. It also logs activity. Using one embodiment of the vault server 406, a user can indicate that a set of users whose employment has been terminated will no longer have access to any secure content. In an alternative embodiment of the vault server 406, a user can indicate that a given element of secure content, say a price list, is now out of date, and so that piece of secure content will no longer be viewable by any user. When each user accesses the secure content, the vault server 406 logs the event. So for each secure content element, the vault server 406 creates a log of all activity on the secure content.

In one embodiment, the vault server 406 also compresses data. For instance, one embodiment utilizes standard PKZIP compression to compress all content. In another embodiment, an IT manager may identify three types of images and specify a different level of compression for each type of image based on the level of resolution necessary for each type of image.

The enterprise server 108 also comprises a RADIUS server 408 and LDAP server 410, which are similar to those described above in relation to the security server 104. The RADIUS server 302 on the security server 104 may proxy to the RADIUS server 408 on the enterprise server 106. Similarly, data in the LDAP server 410 may be propagated to the LDAP server 204 on the security server 104.

The enterprise server 106 also comprises a one-time password (“OTP”) server 412. The OTP server 412 provides a mechanism for authentication. For instance, in one embodiment of the present invention, the enterprise server 106 uses the OTP server 412 to perform a mutual authentication process.

The enterprise server 106 also comprises a concentrator 414. The concentrator 414 provides remote access capability to the client 102. For instance, the concentrator 414 may serve as a means for terminating a VPN between the client 102 and enterprise server 106.

The enterprise server 104 shown in FIG. 4 also comprises a portal server 416. The portal server 416 may comprise a standard web server, such as IIS or Apache. The portal server 416 may provide one or more portals. For example, in one embodiment, the portal server 416 provides two portals, portal one and portal two.

Portal one provides a configuration interface for managing the various elements shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, including, for example, the policy server 402 and LDAP server 410. Portal two provides an interface for accessing data, such as QoS data and session data.

For instance, a user may use historical QoS data on portal two to determine how a particular provider is performing in terms of throughput, user connections, and other QoS metrics. Portal two may also provide real-time information, such as how many users are currently connected.

For instance, in one embodiment, an IT manager determines that twenty users have been rejected by a carrier in the last three minutes due to authentication failure and five users with the same user identifier are currently logged on to five different devices. The IT manager uses this information to detect a potential security problem. Portal two may also be used to set alerts as described above.

It should be noted that the present invention may comprise systems having a different architecture than that which is shown in FIG. 1. For example, in some systems according to the present invention, first authentication server 118 and final authentication server 126 may be combined in a single server. The system 100 shown in FIG. 1 is merely illustrative, and is used to help explain the illustrative systems and processes discussed below.

Illustrative Methods of Monitoring and Displaying Performance Metrics

In one embodiment of the present invention, performance metrics are initially collected and stored on a client device 102. The performance metrics may be based on a variety of factors, such as the VPN status, the health of the client device, and the health of the network. The client device 102 uploads performance metrics to a QoS server 314. Performance metrics may be uploaded on a real-time or a periodic basis (e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly). FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a process for collecting and storing performance metrics in one embodiment of the present invention.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the client device 102 attempts to open a network connection 502. For example, the connection manager 210 may attempt to re-establish the last successful connection. The connection may occur over any available connection type, such as via a LAN or WWAN.

The client device 102 then determines whether the network connection was successful 504. If the network connection fails, the client device 102 logs the failed connection attempt 506. For example, the client device may store the time when the connection was attempted, the number of unsuccessful attempts, and the network identifier. The failure may be logged with other performance metrics or separately.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, if the network connection is successful, the QoS collector 212 sends the performance metrics captured from the previous session to the QoS server 314. By waiting until a subsequent session to send performance metrics, an embodiment of the present invention helps to ensure that the data is successfully transferred. In one embodiment, the transfer does not occur until the connection manager 210 identifies a high-speed connection over which to transmit the data. In other embodiments, slow-speed and high-speed connections are utilized.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a client device 102 will establish a connection with the security server 104 and upload QoS data to the QoS server 314 in a manner that is transparent to the user. For instance, the upload process may run as a service, and each time the client device 102 connects to a network, the upload process executes.

Once a connection failure is logged 506 or performance metrics from the previous session are uploaded 508, the QoS collector 212 begins collecting performance metrics 510. Performance metrics may comprise, for example, QoS statistics, a network node (e.g., base station) identifier, client device performance measures, and other data. In one embodiment, the performance metrics comprise a transport identifier, a start time, a connection duration, a bytes sent quantity, a bytes received quantity, a data rate up quantity, a data rate down quantity, a protocol identifier, an application identifier, a success code, a signal strength quantity, a network type code, a packet size quantity, a CPU utilization quantity, a memory consumption quantity, a power level quantity, applications executing, a disk space quantity, a device identifier, and a termination cause. In one embodiment of the present invention the client device stores averages of certain metrics, such as data rate up and packet size.

Once the QoS collector 212 has collected performance metrics, the QoS collector 212 stores the performance metrics 512. In one embodiment, the QoS collector 212 stores the performance metrics as a text file. In another embodiment, the QoS collector 212 stores the performance metrics in a data store, such as a database.

In one embodiment, storage and transmission of QoS data is minimized by only collecting and storing QoS exceptions. For instance, the number of bytes sent may only be stored and transmitted by the QoS collector 212 if the number falls below a certain threshold or outside a certain predefined range. In another embodiment, only summary data is sent unless the QoS collector 212, QoS server 314, or some other component or process determines that detailed data should be sent as well. For example, a network support person may determine that a connection appears to be suffering from intermittent outages. The network support person can cause the QoS collector 212 and QoS server 314 to begin collecting and storing detailed information regarding the segment of the network that appears to be having problems.

FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a process for providing a network status to a user interface in one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the QoS server 314 first receives performance metrics 602. For instance, the QoS server 314 may receive performance metrics from the QoS collector 212.

The QoS server 314 may also receive performance metrics by receiving a Simple Network Management Protocol (“SNMP”) trap. A SNMP trap is a notification event or alert issued by a managed device to a network management device when a significant event occurs. A significant event may be a device start or stop, an outage, a fault, or a security violation but is not limited to these events.

The server relies on SNMP traps for components on the security server 104 that are SNMP aware. In one embodiment, for components that are not SNMP aware or to augment SNMP traps, the QoS collector 314 monitors log files, such as flat files or databases where information is logged. The data captured from SNMP traps and from direct monitoring of log files is then combined and stored in a data store. In one embodiment, the captured data is used to generate a multi-dimensional database so that support personnel or others can query information.

In some embodiments, performance metrics may be discarded based on various criteria. For instance, in one embodiment, a user can choose to discard performance metrics from a particular session. In another embodiment, performance metrics from sessions lasting less than a predetermined duration, such as thirty seconds, may be discarded automatically. Performance metrics may also be discarded after a predetermined period of time, e.g., performance metrics collected and stored for more than three months may be discarded.

In one embodiment, the QoS server 314 also polls client devices 102 or checks log files or database tables. For instance, the QoS server may utilize a server/agent model to pull information from each device on the network, including, for example, servers, routers, and switches. This data collected may comprise the following: VPN status from client devices 102 to the security server 104 (including up state and throughput); static VPNs from the security server 104 to the enterprise server 106 (including up state and throughput); health of each of the physical devices on the network; and health of the services that the network provides.

The QoS server 314 next determines a status of the network 604. The status of the network may comprise information identifying a problem, such as congestion. The status may also comprise other information, such as the cost, stability, or speed of the network or of a portion of the network.

Once the QoS server 314 has received performance metrics and determined a status of the network, the QoS server 314 provides the status of the network to a user interface 606. Providing the status of the network to a user interface may comprise generating an alert. Alternatively, the user interface may comprise a web portal for providing the status of the network. The portal may be capable of displaying an alert.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a process for determining a status of the network in one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown, the QoS tools engine 316 on the security server 104 loads performance metrics 702. For instance, the performance metrics may exist in an XML file, which the QoS tools engine 316 opens and reads.

The QoS tools engine 316 then determines a status of the network 604. In one embodiment of the present invention, the status of the network is based on the performance metrics alone. In other embodiments, the performance metrics are used in conjunction with other information to determine a status of the network.

The QoS tools engine 316 may determine the status of the network is a problem, such as congestion 704. In other embodiments, the QoS tools engine 316 may generate a bill reconciliation status 706, provide a capacity planning status 708, generate a carrier audit report 710, or generate a security related policy 712. Alternatively, the network status may be sent to the policy server 402 or the enterprise server 106.

In one embodiment, an enterprise monitors the particular protocols a user or client device is using when accessing the network. The enterprise uses this information to determine policies to put into place on the policy server 402. For instance, a user may use an application that utilizes HTTP to access various web sites. Based on the URLs of the web sites that the user is accessing, the network usage is mainly streaming media. If the enterprise determines it is necessary, a policy can be set to limit the amount of bandwidth available for these downloads or to blacklist the site or sites that the user is accessing.

In one embodiment, the QoS server 314 helps carriers to identify problems before they become outages. For instance, wireless base stations often degrade in performance before they stop passing data, e.g., a user can send a short message but not a long one. When degradation is sensed, an alert can be provided to the appropriate support person.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a method for providing the status of the network to a user interface in another embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown, the QoS tools engine 316 determines a status of the network 604. The status of the network is then provided to a user interface 606. In one embodiment, providing the status of the network to the user interface comprises generating an alert 802. An example of an alert may be an auditory buzz or a message. In another embodiment, the status of the network may be provided to a web portal 804. In yet another embodiment, the user interface may be a spreadsheet 806.

In one embodiment, data from the QoS server 314 is used by the policy server 402. For instance, the fact that a particular connection is more stable or faster than another connection may be used to determine connection preferences. The enterprise is able to weigh such information based on factors internal to the enterprise as part of the process of determining rules for the policy server. In such an embodiment, two users sitting in the same location may connect in different ways to the user's respective enterprise network depending on the weighting each enterprise gives to each factor in determining a policy.

For example, in one embodiment portal server 416 accesses data collected by the QoS server 314. The portal server 416 may access this data by connecting to the security server 104 or by storing the data in a data store on the enterprise server. The data accessed by the portal server 416 may be a subset of the data that is collected by the QoS server 314. In such an embodiment, a user accesses the portal server 416 to view network status information in real-time. Such real-time access enables effective and efficient troubleshooting of the network connections and the ability to determine particular carrier's stability. If a network problem exists, the portal may cause an auditory buzz to be output when information is displayed on the portal in relation to the problem.

In another embodiment, the user is provided with summary data. The summary data provides information that can be used to perform historical analysis and trend analysis on network connections.

In one embodiment, a statistical model is applied to the data in the QoS server 314. In another embodiment, a predetermined threshold is set for various measures. When the threshold is exceeded, an alert is generated. For instance, if the QoS server 314 determines that a single login account is logged into more than five devices or in more than one geographic location simultaneously, an alert is generated identifying a possible intrusion. In such an embodiment, an enterprise can set its own security events based on its particular needs.

Once the customer identifies a potential problem, the customer can alert the carrier or other service provider of the potential problem. In this way, the customer is able to identify the party responsible for the problem without the need to contact multiple service providers, e.g., the carrier and network equipment providers.

In another embodiment, a network support person accesses the portal server 318 on the security server 104. The portal server 318 accesses the QoS server 314 or a data store to obtain the data collected by the QoS server 314. The data available on the security provider's portal server 318 may be more extensive than that available via the enterprise's portal server 416. The network support person uses the data available on the portal server 318 to analyze the performance of the network, troubleshoot potential network problems, and perform other support functions, such as capacity planning.

For example, a carrier may use an embodiment of the present invention to determine where an additional hotspot is necessary to adequately support the carrier's user base. The network may not be experiencing any problems; it just may be less expensive to switch to another type of network, such as from a cellular network to a Wi-Fi network.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the QoS server 314 identifies potential problems with client device 102. For instance, the QoS server 314 may detect that the CPU or memory utilization of a particular client is above a predefined threshold. In such an embodiment, problems with the client device 102 can be eliminated before attempting to diagnose a problem with the network.

The portal server 318 provides data that is highly granular. The data provides information on aspects of performance that can indicate that a problem is occurring or may soon occur. For example, one page provided by the portal server 318 displays a schematic view of the VPNs to and from the security server 104. When a potential problem is detected with one of the VPNs, the portal server 314 causes the portion of the schematic illustrating that VPN to become highlighted. A network support person accessing the portal can then easily detect a problem or potential problem. The user can then drill down to the level of detail necessary to diagnose and resolve the problem.

In one embodiment, the information collected by the QoS server 316 is utilized to audit bills from multiple network carriers or other service providers. For instance, the duration of connections made over a particular communication line may be determined based on performance metrics and compared to the invoice for services provided by a carrier.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the QoS server 314 provides information to a network management system. The network management system completes a matrix of properties for each of the networks. The matrix may comprise measures such as stability, cost, speed, and geography. The matrix is then used to determine which available connection is best for a particular client device 102, application, time of day, or based on some other variable. For instance, a user in the Denver airport has an available cellular connection with carrier X and an available cellular connection with carrier Y simultaneously. The connection manager 210 utilizes the matrix to determine that the congestion on the base station operated by carrier Y is lower than that of carrier X and that the base station of carrier Y drops fewer packets and fewer signals. After evaluating this information, the connection manager 210 connects the user's client device 102 to carrier Y's base station.

General

The foregoing description of the embodiments, including preferred embodiments, of the invention has been presented only for the purpose of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Numerous modifications and adaptations thereof will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification370/395.53
International ClassificationH04W48/18, H04W12/08, H04W36/14, H04L12/28
Cooperative ClassificationH04L2209/60, H04L9/321, H04L2209/56, H04L2209/805, G06F21/316, G06F21/6227, H04L63/08, H04L63/0272, H04L67/30, H04L63/102, H04L9/3273, H04L63/1408, H04W48/18, H04L67/322, H04L63/145, H04W12/08, H04L67/14, H04L67/04, H04L41/509, H04L43/045, H04L63/166, H04L69/329, H04L63/0227, H04L63/0869, H04L41/5009, H04L63/162, H04L41/0681, H04L41/5067, H04L63/0823, H04L41/5016, H04L47/24, H04L47/22, H04L47/11, H04L43/0817, H04L41/0213, H04L67/02, H04L63/0263, H04L63/20
European ClassificationH04L29/08N1, H04L9/32R2, H04L29/08N13, H04L43/04A, H04L41/02B, H04L9/08, H04L63/02C, H04L63/20, H04L47/22, G06F21/62B1, H04L29/08N3, H04L63/02B, H04L47/24, H04W12/08, H04L41/50A2, H04L63/10B, H04L29/08N29, H04L29/08N31Q, H04L63/14A, H04L47/11, H04L63/14D1, G06F21/31B, H04L41/50J2, H04L63/02B6, H04L29/08A7, H04L63/08G, H04L43/08D
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 2, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: JAPAN COMMUNICATIONS, INC., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SANDA, FRANK SEIJI;FUKUDA, NAOHISA;LAVES, EDWARD W.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017109/0119;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050912 TO 20060119