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Publication numberUS20060122955 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/001,127
Publication dateJun 8, 2006
Filing dateDec 2, 2004
Priority dateDec 2, 2004
Also published asCA2589755A1, US7912822, US8306961, US20060168136, US20110167159, WO2006058429A1
Publication number001127, 11001127, US 2006/0122955 A1, US 2006/122955 A1, US 20060122955 A1, US 20060122955A1, US 2006122955 A1, US 2006122955A1, US-A1-20060122955, US-A1-2006122955, US2006/0122955A1, US2006/122955A1, US20060122955 A1, US20060122955A1, US2006122955 A1, US2006122955A1
InventorsAlex Bethlehem, Garrett Serack, Laura Armstrong, Yan Chen, Zhenwu Li
Original AssigneeAlex Bethlehem, Garrett Serack, Laura Armstrong, Yan Chen, Zhenwu Li
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System and method for launching a resource in a network
US 20060122955 A1
Abstract
The invention provides a system and method for a client connected to a server in a computer network to access a resource, such as an application, database (either local, server, or web-based), service and/or a file, stored in the network. The system comprises: the client in the network; the server in the network; an instance of the resource stored in at least one of the server and the client; a file associated with the application stored in at least one of the server and the client; and an access module operating to provide the client with access to the server. In the system at the client, a first icon associated with a said resource is provided and if the instance of the resource is stored at the server, the application is automatically accessed when the icon at the client is activated.
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Claims(19)
1. An access system for a client connected to a server in a computer network to a resource stored in said network, said system comprising:
said client in said network;
said server in said network;
an instance of said resource stored in at least one of said server and said client; and
an access module operating to provide said client with access to said server, wherein at said client, a first icon associated with said resource is provided; and
if said instance of said resource is stored at said server, said resource is automatically accessed when said first icon at said client is activated.
2. The access system as claimed in claim 1 wherein, when said resource is not stored on said client, said icon has attributes associated a location of said resource.
3. The access system as claimed in claim 2, wherein said client is provided with an option of searching for said instance of said resource on either said client first or said server first.
4. The access system as claimed in claim 3, wherein user profile data relating to a user at said client is provided in said network, said user profile data defining rights and access privileges of said resource assigned to said client.
5. The access system as claimed in claim 4, wherein a configuration management interface is provided defining logical data interfaces relating to said resource assigned to said client utilizing said user profile data.
6. The access system as claimed in claim 5, wherein a virtual drive map of files relating to said resource is built on said client, said drive map utilizes information from said user profile data and provides access to said resource from said server to said client and from said client to said server.
7. The access system as claimed in claim 4, wherein a mapping of icon files and application files resident relating to said resource on said server is provided to said client; and
said mapping is utilized to present icons on said client indicating where said resource resides.
8. The access system as claimed in claim 7, wherein when said resource resides on said client, an icon indicating that said resource resides on said client is presented to said client.
9. The access system as claimed in claim 8, wherein when said resource resides on said server, an icon indicating that said resource resides on said server is presented to said client.
10. The access system as claimed in claim 9, wherein said mapping is used to overlay icons that do not indicate correctly where said resource resides.
11. The access system as claimed in claim 10, wherein when said resource resides on said server, at said client, said resource is reconfigured to present said resource to said user as a server-based resource through said client.
12. A method for presenting information to a client in a network where resources are stored in at least said client or a server in said network, said method comprising:
asking a user at said client to select whether a resource accessible by said client are to be searched first from a location comprising said client and a server in said network; and
if a response from said asking indicates that said resource is to be associated first with said server, providing an icon associated with said resource to indicate that said resource is associated with said server.
13. The method as claimed in claim 12, wherein user profile data relating to a user at said client is provided in said network, said user profile data defining rights and access privileges to said resource assigned to said client.
14. The method as claimed in claim 13, wherein a configuration management interface is provided defining logical data interfaces to said resource assigned to said client utilizing user profile data.
15. The method as claimed in claim 14, wherein a virtual drive map of files relating to said resource is built on said client, said drive map utilizing information from said user profile data and providing access of said resource from said server to said client and from said client to said server.
16. The method as claimed in claim 15, wherein when said resource resides on said client, an icon indicating that said resource resides on said client is presented to said client.
17. The method as claimed in claim 16, wherein when said resource resides on said server, an icon indicating that said resource resides on said server is presented to said client.
18. The method as claimed in claim 17, wherein when mapping is used to overlay icons that do not indicate correctly where said resource resides.
19. The method as claimed in claim 18, wherein when said resource resides on said server, at said client said resource is reconfigured to present said resource to said user as a server-based resource through said client.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a system and method for launching or accessing a resource in a computer network, in particular, a system and method of extending network resources for in and out of the workplace access.

BACKGROUND

Advantages of the Internet as an economical communications medium are driving companies to use it to deliver business critical applications and network data resources, enabling customers, partners, remote offices and mobile employees to work together and collaborate more efficiently.

However, a fundamental challenge facing organizations today is managing the increasing rate of required changes while maintaining business continuity. The process of building, deploying, integrating applications and melding with packaged applications and third-party data streams is becoming increasingly difficult. Today many enterprises approach migration with a growing series of uncoordinated tools to repeatedly build, rebuild, and update operating systems and several other tools for ongoing management. Web-based applications and data provide a key company resource in today's business environment. Legacy applications are a mix of mainframe and pure client/server applications.

In order to consider application redevelopments for the Web, this typically entails a long-term effort, requires significant capital expenditure and frequently results in losing the rich client functionality necessary in business-critical applications to enhance productivity.

Terminal-based or centralized hosting environments in which multiple terminals connect to a host computer (i.e. server based computing), applications and data are typically deployed, managed and supported on the server with solutions offering delivery and management over the Internet. The principle advantages of this form of deployment are reduced maintenance and support for client terminals, a standardized corporate client terminal and centralized resource management. However, for organizations with multiple locations and numerous users, the costs associated with traditional emulation software can be excessive due to costly individual licensing costs, maintenance, support and updates. Further web-based computing protocols within a server based computing model could be very sensitive to network delay, consuming a constant amount of unnecessary bandwidth, in addition to utilizing significant server resources for each user session. Another system is virtual private networks (VPN), which allow enterprises to carve secure and reliable “networks” out of the public Internet infrastructure. However, the very nature of a remote access VPN, being to provide secure access to distributed users at numerous remote locations, introduces deployment and maintenance concerns. VPNs are unable to deliver instant and continuous connectivity and are processor-intensive and bandwidth-heavy in use. Another drawback of VPNs is that a VPN client must be installed and maintained on every PC that requires access and each individual PC user must be trained to operate the VPN application. This configuration leads to source data, which often resides on laptop PCs or other devices, being left vulnerable to loss or theft. Once connected via a VPN the remote PC is granted full rights and privileges to roam the corporate network, which may be exploited by hackers using a remote VPN connection to gain access to corporate network resources.

There is a need for a system and method for providing access within the corporate environment, remote or mobile access to applications and data, which addresses deficiencies in the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, an access system controlling access of a client to resource, such as an application, database (either local, server, or web-based), service and/or a file, located within a network having a server and the client is provided. The system comprises: a client data interface defining data interfaces, data transmission rule sets, methods, and scripts associated with the client; a user profile associated with the client storing then data interfaces, then data transmission rule sets, then methods and then scripts; a server communicator controlling distribution of then user profile within then network; and an access module providing a bi-directional view of the application and the file between the server and the client. In the system, the client can selectively choose to search for the application from one of first searching for the application on the server and first searching for the application on the client. In the system, client interfaces may include and are not limited to: a desktop launcher, server desktop, or client desktop, and/or combination thereof.

In the system, the administrative interface may comprise a configuration management user interface on the client to define logical data interfaces, data transmission rule sets, methods, and scripts.

In the system, the logical export and import data interface may comprise export and import data connections, import and export data views and the import and export data bags.

In the system, the logical import data interface may import data from an import data source into the system.

In the system, the import data may be used during execution of then server communicator to load data from then import data source into then import data bags.

In the system, the logical export data interface may be used to export data from an export data source into an export data target client of the user profile delivery system.

In the system, an export data view of the export data bag may be used during execution of the server communicator to load data from then export data bag out to then export data target.

In the system, the server communicator may execute defined scripts stored in then user profile data.

In the system, the rule processor may be invoked by the server communicator to execute the user's requests and responses using either or both the import and export data bags based on data transmission rules.

In the system, the server communicator language may comprise a set of server communicator commands and a server communicator processor to process and execute each server communicator command lines.

In the system, the communicator commands may comprise: a load command; a display command for displaying data from a data bag into the export data target; a format command for formatting a data bag into a user display using a defined rule set; a execute command for executing a data bag from a user's request; and a save command for saving data from a client to an import data connection at the server.

In a second aspect, an access system for a client connected to a server in a computer network to resource, such as an application, database (either local, server, or web-based), service and/or a file, stored in the network is provided. The system comprises: the client in the network; the server in the network; an instance of the application stored in at least one of the server and the client; a file associated with the application stored in at least one of the server and the client; and an access module operating to provide the client with access to the server. In the system at the client, a first icon of the file is provided and if the instance of the application is stored at the server, the application is automatically accessed when the icon at the client is activated.

In the system, when the application is not stored on the client, the icon may have attributes associated a location of the application.

In the system, the client may be provided with an option of searching for the instance of the application on either the client first or the server first.

In the system, user profile data relating to a user at the client may be provided in the network. The user profile data may define rights and access privileges to resources relating to the application assigned to the client.

In the system, a configuration management interface may be provided defining logical data interfaces to resources relating to the application assigned to the client utilizing the user profile data.

In the system, a virtual drive map of files relating to the application may be built on the client. Therein, the drive map may utilize information from the user profile data and provides access of the files from the server to the client and from the client to the server.

In the system, a mapping of icon files and application files resident on the server may be provided to the client. Also, the mapping may be utilized to present icons on the client indicating where applications reside which may be implemented by the client.

In the system for server applications residing on the server, icons relating to files using the server applications may be presented to the client with a unique server indication when files associated with the applications are presented to the user.

In the system, when the resource resides on the client, an icon indicating that the resource resides on the client may be presented to the client. In the system, when the resource resides on the server, an icon indicating that the resource resides on the server may be presented to the client. In the system, the mapping may be used to overlay (e.g. ignore) icons that do not indicate correctly where the resource resides.

In the system, when said resource resides on said server, at said client a menu bar is presented in a GUI resources are reconfigured on said client via the access system, presenting said resource to said user as a server-based resource through said client.

In a third aspect, a method for presenting information to a client in a network where a resource, such as an application, database (either local, server, or web-based), service and/or a file, is stored in at least the client or a server in the network is provided. The method comprises: asking a user at the client to select whether applications for files accessible by the client are to be searched first from a location comprising the client and a server in the network; and utilizing information from a response to associate an icon associated with the file if the response indicates that the file is to be associated first with a remote application.

In the method, a user profile data relating to a user at the client may be provided in the network. Therein the user profile data defines rights and access privileges to resources relating to the application assigned to the client.

In the method, a configuration management interface may be provided defining logical data interfaces to resources relating to the application assigned to the client utilizing user profile data.

In the method a virtual drive map of files relating to the application may be built on the client, utilizing information from the user profile data and providing access of the files from the server to the client and from the client to the server.

In the method, for applications residing on the server, at the client a menu bar is presented in a GUI presenting the application to the user as a server-based application.

In other aspects various combinations of sets and subsets of the above aspects are provided.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other aspects of the invention will become more apparent from the following description of specific embodiments thereof and the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example only, the principles of the invention. In the drawings, where like elements feature like reference numerals (and wherein individual elements bear unique alphabetical suffixes):

FIG. 1A is a block diagram of a network associated with an embodiment;

FIG. 1B is a block diagram of aspects of a client and a server in said network associated with an embodiment;

FIG. 2 is another block diagram of the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a user profile data structure used in the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a configuration management user interface used to define the user profile data structure of FIG. 3 for the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram showing operations of the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram showing login operations of the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram showing generation of a license key to manage valid users of the network system in FIG. 1;

FIG. 8A is a flow diagram showing set-up for a gateway operation of the network system in FIG. 1;

FIG. 8B is a network diagram showing data rules, setup, and operations performed by a gateway operation for the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a block diagram of the network system of FIG. 1, during a mapping component operation;

FIG. 10 is a diagram showing an exemplary access control GUIs for the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 11 is a flow diagram of an auto refresh function performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 12 illustrates exemplary GUIs for a publication and distribution function performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 13 illustrates exemplary GUIs for a load balancing function performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 14 is a diagram showing an exemplary GUIs for profile synchronization performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 15 is a flow diagram of the rules and operations performed on icon integration process performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 16 is a flow diagram of host-based application launch process performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 17 is a flow diagram of local application launch process performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 18 illustrates exemplary GUIs for a publishing service processes performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 19 is a flow diagram of a web based application launch process performed by the network system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 20 is a flow diagram of a logout process performed by the network system of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 21 is a diagram of a screen display for the embodiment generated on a client associated with the network system of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT

The description which follows, and the embodiments described therein, are provided by way of illustration of an example, or examples, of particular embodiments of the principles of the present invention. These examples are provided for the purposes of explanation, and not limitation, of those principles and of the invention. In the description, which follows, like parts are marked throughout the specification and the drawings with the same respective reference numerals.

An embodiment generally comprises a system and method of sharing files, applications and resources amongst elements in a network, such as a client and a server. In particular, a user at the client has local files and applications stored thereon and the server also has files and applications stored thereon. Frequently, an instance of an application may be installed on both the client and the server, e.g. Microsoft Word (trade-mark) or Microsoft Excel (trade-mark). The embodiment provides the client with access to both applications and allows the client to specify from which source (e.g. client or server) to first seek activation of the application. In providing such access, the embodiment provides bi-directional views of resources for both the client and the server. As an additional function, the embodiment indicates to the user at the client through an icon on his desktop GUI of whether a file associated with an application will be using either a local (client-side) instance of the application or a remote (server-side) instance. In order to facilitate these functions and operations, data relating to a client, its local applications, local files and access privileges are stored and selectively accessed by the server. Although the description provided herein focuses on sharing and accessing files and applications, the embodiment can also be used to share any resource which may be accessed in a network. Such resources may include: files and applications (as noted earlier), databases and services. Further detail on these features are provided below.

Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B, for the embodiment network 2 is provided comprising client 4 and server 6. Network 2 may be any network architecture allowing remote access by client 4 to server 6. Exemplary architectures include systems using Intranet/Internet/Extranet TCP/IP connections, dial-up connection, VPN connections, LANs, WANs or DSL, wireless, cable modem or any other type of connections or architectures. Server 6 may be a single server or comprise multiple servers. Communication link 8 connects client 4 to server 6 and provides one or more conduits for transfer of data, files and information therebetween. As an interface and mechanism for the transfer of data, files and information between client 4 and server 6, user profile system 10 is provided amongst client 4 and server 6, which utilizes communication link 8 effect the transfer. User profile system comprises front end interface 10A located in client 4 and back end interface 10B located in server 6.

Referring to FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2, further detail on client 4 is provided. Client 4 comprises computer platform 12 having typical, known components, including a microprocessor (not shown), memory (not shown), secondary storage hard drive (not shown) and software installed thereon which allows client 4 to install and operate applications. It will be appreciated that client 4 may be a thin client, such as a SunRay thin client. Client 4 also includes distributed computing module 14 embodied in software and hardware components, which enables it to access network 2. Front end interface 10A of user profile delivery system 10 is embodied in software and provides front-end code operating as a data storage and transmission interface with server 6. It includes import data source 102 and export data target 104. Data source 102 contains transmission data (userids/passwords, file commands, other input) related to client 4. Target data 104 contains responses from server application 6, including icon data, document files and desktop view data.

Server 6 comprises back end interface 10B of user profile delivery system 10, operating system 16, network layer 18, and various individual computing components 20, including network server 20A, webserver 20B, computer 20C, database 20D and server application 20E. Back end interface 10B is embodied as software and provides an interface for server 6 to client 4 through its front end interface 10A and comprises communication server 106, an interface with import data interface 108, an interface with export data interface 110, generic format databags 112, rule processor 114, user profile data 116 and configuration management user interface 118. Databags 112 provide transport for an remote procedure call (RPC) interface and may contain string or serializable java objects, which get serialized and deserialized on each end of the connection with the communication server 106. Rule processor 114 defines and implements rules of operation for server 6. User profile data 116 provides data for export data target 104. Configuration management user interface 118 provides a module for controlling and assigning the user profile data 116.

Referring to FIG. 21, when a user at client 4 initiates the embodiment, on the display associated with client 4, screen 2100 is generated by software operating on client 4. Further, when the user signs onto server 6, he can view files stored in directories associated with server 6 as well as local files, as provided in window 2102. Window 2102 is a GUI having a familiar panel layout having look and feel to existing operating system interfaces, such as those provided by a Microsoft Windows (trade-mark) interface. Entries 2104 provide individual icon and text information relating to files associated with client 4. For example a Microsoft Word document (trade-mark) entitled “docl” is listed is shown, with the title of the document and its associated icon 2106. In background area 2108, icon 2110 is showing a file located on client 4 which also uses the Word application. As is typical with GUI interfaces, activation of a mouse click when the mouse pointer (not shown) is upon icon 2110 will launch the associated application and open the file in the application. It will be appreciated that the user profile data interface on client 4 may be implemented as one or more types of interfaces such as a desktop launcher, server desktop, or a client-based system.

The embodiment provides visual information to identify a location in the network of an associated application for a file. Icons 2112A and 2112B have a subscript “K” displayed therein. This notation indicates that the location of the associated application does not reside on client 4, but on actually on server 6. It will be appreciated that in other embodiments, any other visual notation may be used.

In the top portion of window 2100, pull down menu 2116 provides a list of additional services and applications available to the user. Hosted application selection 2118 provides a listing of server-based applications 2114 which may be activated by the user. From the pull-down menu, service based applications are visually differentiated from local applications by providing an altered icon for the server-based application. In this particular implementation, the known icon for a Word application is augmented with a “K”, as shown. Other visual keys may be implemented.

Referring to FIG. 3, in order to assist elements in network 2 to track location, privilege and sharing rights of files and applications, access data for a client 4 needs to be stored and communicated with server 6. In the embodiment, user profile data 116 is used for this purpose. It includes data relating to administrative properties 116 a, home folder 116 b, server registry 116 c and database 116 d. In particular, user profile data 116 stores configuration information for back end interface 10B. Data for administrative properties relate to application settings, e.g. hostname, process id, version and installation location. Data for home folder contains a specific user's information, such as data relating to his shared folders, desktop (home) folder, icon positions and documents. Data for the server registry contains port and addresses data for the servers 106. Database 116 d stores registered applications, published shares and server 106 information. These settings in the user profile data, may all be configured by a system administrator, via the configuration management console and the back end interface 10B.

Referring to FIG. 4, similarly, in order to track access and privilege settings for an application by a client 4, configuration data needs to be stored and communicated within elements in network 2. As such, configuration management for an the application is provided through a configuration management user interface implemented as a web application that allows a system administrator to configure the settings for the entire application. Configuration data is assigned as configuration management user interface data 118 and comprises license manager 118A, secure gateway 118B, drive mapping 118C, auto refresh 118D, icon integration logic 118F, load balancing 118G, set home and shared folders 118G, hosted application P/D 118H, hosted application launching system 118I, web services P/D 118J, web services application launching system 118K, Profile Synchronization 118L, Multiple Terminal Servers (Server Farm) 118M, and logout functions 118N.

Referring to FIG. 5, in order for a client 4 to assess its privileges and access rights to files, applications, and services with other elements in network 2, the other elements, notably server 6, need to obtain relevant access information from client 4. To assist in this process, client 4 delivers its data to server 6 through a delivery process. Flow chart 500 shows elements of the profile delivery process. In particular, to initiate the process in step 502 a user at client 4 launches delivery system 10 and invokes back end interface 10B through an appropriate signal carried over communication link 8. At step 504, to successfully launch a user's profile, the user needs to provide user identification credentials at logon to enable client 4 delivery system 10 to access back end interface 10B.

In step 504 a license manager is invoked once communications between client 4 and server 6 are established. The license manager monitors the number of users accessing server 6 to ensure that there are enough valid user licenses available for the software, before authenticating a user to his user specific user profile. In step 504 b secure gateway can be turned on or off to access server 6.

In step 506 once a user is successfully authenticated, back end interface 10B exports user's profile data 116 via the server communicator 106 to export data target 104. User profile data 116 that is loaded into client 4 is used to interpret the user profile data interface, specific to each user and contains all the user rights and access privileges to network resources assigned to that user via the configuration management user interface 118. User profile data 116 contains attributes allowing the user to the following data: home folder, session ID, server desktop files and folders, shared folders, web drive, icons, logic, data, terminal services published applications, web based applications and services, and local PC access and local PC integration of server resources.

In step 508 user profile data contains attributes that dynamically map the local client 4, thereby making single or multiple server-network folders, files, and shared folders available to the user via client 4. During configuration, back end interface 10B stores the data of all published servers and PC's available to all users in the Users profile delivery database 116 d. At runtime, the system retrieves which servers and shares are permitted access to the individual client user, and builds a hierarchy of shares in IIS, complete with access permissions, mapping each individual share to a WebDAV folder in that user's unique virtual directory. WebDAV is the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning extensions supported by IIS to allow bidirectional file access via HTTP/HTTPS, and virtual directory refers to an IIS virtual directory.

In step 510, server based hosted applications are published and distributed to specific users via the configuration management user interface 118. User profile data 116 dynamically checks for both local and server published and distributed applications and their associated icons. User profile data 116 uses icon logic to accurately populate the user profile data interface on client 4. Files on client 4 using server based application may be tagged with a unique smaller second image icon object that may be integrated into client 4 s standard desktop icon image object to differentiate files that are utilizing a server-based application versus a local application. Back end interface 10B may publish and distribute server-based applications to multiple servers to improve performance to multi-user environments. Server 6 may allow listing of several servers IPs in the server registry and then allow a distribution load balancing method of accessing hosted applications to be selected respective to the amount of users requesting this service. Distribution methods such as CPU load monitoring, round-robin methods, per-user per server count and random distributions.

In step 512, server 6 publishes web services and applications for distribution to specific users via configuration management user interface 118. The user profile data will accurately populate the user profile data interface on client 4.

In step 514, a logout process is provided wherein server 6 closes the user profile data interface on client 4. As a GUI, the user will click on the “x” in the top right hand corner of the active window or from the pull down tab selecting logout. Selecting yes will logout the user and disconnect his user profile session.

Referring now to FIG. 6, as part of the accessing of information a user at client 4 needs to first access delivery system 10. This access is provided through login routine 600. Therein, at step 602 the user launches from client 4 user profile delivery system 10 a, which then invokes back end interface 10B by through a signal sent over link 8. It may be necessary to require a one-time install of a plug-in such as a JVM plug-in to run the application. Client 4 scans and detects if the plug-in is installed and, if not, a user will be prompted to install the plug-in. Thereafter, delivery system 10 may be installed onto client 4. Once installed, in step 604 the user is prompted with a display login box on client 4. In step 606 the user is required to input specific credentials such as user name and password by way of an external input means interfaced with client 4, such as a keyboard. Import data source 102 is then sent via the import data interface 108 to the server communicator to retrieve the user's profile data 116. In step 608, the import data bags 112 are processed through the rule processor 114 to handle results. Rule processor 114 uses known authentication protocols such as Active Directory (AD) available from Microsoft, Novell Directory Services (NDS), LDAP, RSA security, or any other type standard authentication protocols to authenticate users. The user must also be assigned as a valid user of the system via the configuration management user interface. At decision point 610 if the user is not a valid user on server 6, the user will be prompted with the login dialog box and text display telling the user “login failed” at 609 and the user is required to retype his user credentials. In step 612, if the user is a valid user on server 6, the user is required to have an existing user profile on server 6. If the profile does not exist, the user profile is created for the user by the user profile delivery system. At decision point 614 if there is a problem with creating a user's profile on server 6, an error message is displayed to the end user that the user profile does not exist at step 616. If the user and a user's profile exist on server 6, the user is successfully authenticated at step 618. The user profile via back end interface 10B will then get/retrieve and export the user's profile data 116 via server 106 to the export data target 104. At step 620, user profile data is loaded onto client 4. At step 622, user profile data interface is used to interpret the user's profile data on client 4. It will be appreciated that the user profile data interface on client 4 may be implemented as one or more types of interfaces such as a desktop launcher, server desktop, or a client-based system.

Referring now to FIG. 7, a license manager routine implements a logon process as shown generally at 700 confirms that a valid license for a set number of concurrent users for the Application Deployment is available for a user who is attempting to login to access their User Profile Data on the server. A user will be unable to utilize the system if a valid license is not available. Only the license key generated by the license manager application is sent to the administrator. The license key is installed onto server 6 via configuration management user interface 118.

At step 702, the license keys for the application deployment are generated by a system administrator using a license manager application. Upon a successful logon to license manager application, at step 704 the license manager application generates a license key which encodes the number of users able to concurrently logon to the server and contains a digital key pair that preferably will only work with a specific version release of application installed on client 4. The digital key pair generated is made up of both a public digital key and a private digital key. The public key is integrated into back end interface 10B. At step 706 the private digital key is encoded in the license key for the specific version release is delivered to the customer via email or CD format and is installed on server 6 via configuration management user interface 118. At step 708, when there is a match between the private key and the public key the user is provided access to the system. At step 710, server 6 checks whether there is a valid license available for the user attempting to logon to server 6 to access his user profile data. At step 712, if a license is not available, the user will be prompted by an error message 714 informing him the situation. If there is a valid user license available, the user will successfully complete the logon process. Subsequently, at step 716, the user profile data interface interprets the user profile data on client 4.

Referring now to FIG. 8A, the secure gateway sets up a secure tunnel between client 4 and server 6 when using hosted server based applications, as shown generally at 800. The secure gateway provides a tunnel for all server-based application data from network terminal services on server 6 through standard ports 80 (http) and 443 (https). This allows the network to function without compromising security by having to open additional firewall ports to extend hosted server based hosted applications from one or more server 6.

The secure gateway may require a one-time install of a plug-in such as an active x plug-in on client 4 to run the hosted server based application. Client 4 can scan and detect if the plug-in is installed, and if not, a user will be prompted to install the plug-in. Once installed, each user from their user profile data interface may access user specific hosted server based applications that have assigned to them as defined by the configuration management user interface. At step 802 the user profile data is used to interpret the user profile data interface on client 4. At step 804 from the user data interface (which could be one or more, or a multitude of interfaces such as a desktop launcher, server desktop, or client 4), the user can invoke secure gateway tunneling by requesting a server-based hosted application, using for example a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) based connection. The user request is sent from client 4 to server 6 via an import data interface. Server 6 then establishes a TcpTunnel ISAPI plug-in, which reads the configuration information from server registry 116 c. The TcpTunnel plug-in is directed to several Terminal services, of which one can be client 4 that the plug-in is running on. At step 806 client 4 opens the TcpTunnel before the RDP window needs it. The RDP window then attaches to the Virtual Terminal Services Port (VTSP) as if it were a real terminal services server at step 808. The client, when ready to connect to the Terminal Server behind the firewall, starts its tunnel, creating a Virtual Terminal Services Port (VTSP). When the Client requests a connection to VTSP, it then begins to send connection information across the wire.

At step 810 a connection is made. A client 4 can issue five commands for a connection:

(1) open-This command opens a connection. The command indicates to server 6 that a tcp connection is imminent. It initiates buffers to be allocated and opens the port at server 6 to the destination server.

(2) close-This command closes a connection. A connection is also closed when a connection is broken.

(3) write-This command sends data to an open connection. This command requires no response. It leaves the HTTP/1.1 connection alive, which lowers lag time.

(4) read-This command starts a response thread, which is kept alive, and delivers data back to the client as the destination server has data to send.

(5) readwrite-This command performs one complete read and write of the data. Typically, this command is only used when client 4 cannot communicate with the separate requests.

In one embodiment, port knocking for an available port may be used to identify an available port at the server side. To initiate port knocking, the system can call an appropriate routine, such as TcpKnock.startKnockServer(int portLow, int portHigh), where the portLow and portHigh identify a start and end of the port range opened on the firewall for the knock service. It will be appreciated that port knocking does not require a specific port to be mapped to a specific server. Instead, a specific port sequence knock within a range of available ports is provided to identify an appropriate port to be dynamically mapped to a specific server.

One of those ports may be randomly used for the load balancing connection to server 6. When client 4 is connecting to server 6, at server 6, it calls String combo=TcpKnock.GetCombination(). The return value is provided to client 4 and identifies the int port=TcpKnockClient.StartConnection(combo) on which to perform porting knocking to identify an appropriate port to open. Once the value is returned, client 4 uses the port number to dynamically map available port to connect to server 6. When client 4 connects to that port (on the WAN interface) with the RDP client, the traffic is routed directly to the target server 6. Without knowing the specific sequence knock within a specified port range, all request trying to scan or access these ports may be rejected. For example, if the port knocking range is from 1600 to 1610, the port knocking sequence will open one of those ports by using a sequence knock established by the server to client for that specific application session. Each application session that is established will have its own knock sequence. When the port is open it will be dynamically mapped to a specific target server port 3389. When the session client 4 is complete, it does not need to do anything further to close the connection, as the RDP connection is closed automatically when the window is closed.

On the server side, at step 812 load balancing is performed. The TcpTunnel plug-in is aware of multiple targets, for when the server wants to use a specific method of load balancing terminal services server. Different methods of load balancing may include CPU load monitoring, round robin method, per user per server count and random. Further detail on load balancing is provided later. At step 814, data on the client 4 then flows through the virtual connection to the terminal services.

Referring to FIG. 9, after a user at client 4 has signed onto the system, an aspect of the embodiment allows client 4 to access files, applications and services (such as web services) from server 6 as if the files, applications and services were stored locally on client 4. In providing this aspect, virtual drive-mapping component 900 is provided on client 4 and provides the user with a bi-directional view of data, files, and folders from server 6 using back end interface 10B from local and remote sources. In particular, from client 4 to server 6, users can see data, files, and folders from server 6 on client 4. Also, server-based applications and services can access a virtual drive mapping on client 4. Drive mapping component 900 is installed with the other components described earlier in relation to FIG. 2. Rule processor 114 (FIG. 2) builds the user profile data that drive mapping component 900 uses to setup the hierarchy of folders on client 4 that contain the user's individual drive shares and the common drive shares from file servers.

To provide bidirectional views, a virtual drive-mapping component dynamically sets up a client 4 with a bi-directional virtual drive that contains a user's data, files, and folders from server 6, including LAN PC shares on client 4. To the user, the virtual drive is accessed as if it were a local drive on client 4. It is mounted as a drive letter using any free letter the machine may have. Virtual drive-mapping component 900 also monitors for changes in data, files and folders to synchronize information between client 4 and server 6 after a user has successfully logged onto his user profile data interface from server 6. Using virtual drive-mapping component 900, data, files, and folders are transparently moved between client 4 and server 6 via communication link 8. To facilitate the virtual drive mapping, client 4 has an Installable File System (IFS) 902 that communicates at the operating system level to provide a bi-directional view for the user using the local client 4 and client applications (both local and server based applications). The server 6 dynamically builds a virtual directory at the server directory level. Then, the IFS from client 4, reads this virtual mapping directory. Depending on the client's selected preference in searching applications (i.e. to search for either local or server applications first), the user profile obtains and stores an inventory of both local and server based application, their extensions and their associated icons. The user profile also reconfigures the local client 4 to utilize this application to file association. The client bi-directional view means that a user can use either a local or server based application to save file back to the server using the virtual drive mapping. For example the bi-direction view allow using a local client application to save a file to the server. Therein, when a local word application is used on client 4, the user is able to: open the word application; edit document; and select “save as” and identify a server folder located by the dynamically virtual mapped drive on the client 4. As another example, the bi-directional views allow using a server hosted application to save a file to the server. Therein, when a server word application is activated on the client 4, the user is able to: open the word application; edit a document; and select “save as” and identify a server folder located by the dynamically virtual mapped drive on the client 4. In operation for the user, the virtual drive is assigned a drive letter that appears to be just like any other locally mapped drive. IFS 902 may be integrated into delivery system 10 and is loaded transparently for the user. The virtual drive-mapping component on client 4 dynamically selects the first available drive letter not used on client 4. The system may, once granted security access via a signed certificate that accompanies the download, dynamically install new drivers allowing IFS 902 to map in new drives if needed. The IFS allow multiple paths 904 on the network-server 906 and PCs 908 within a LAN or WAN to be mapped into a single drive letter on client 4, building a complete virtual drive which may include the user's home profile and multiple shared data, drives, folders, and files on one or more network-server and personal PCs.

The virtual drive-mapping component dynamically maps client 4 using rule processor 114 (with rule sets defined in the user's profile data), which utilizes an authentication protocols, such as Microsoft's Active directory (AD), to determine what access rights and privileges a user has to the server and personal PCs within a LAN or WAN. Using the windows API and these access rights and privileges, the WebDav server 910 is created to dynamically map the user's shared data, drives, folders, and files into a specially configured web server that provides access to these server 6 and PCs share within a LAN or WAN. These access rights and privileges are then extended and utilized by the virtual drive-mapping component on client 4 to dynamically map client 4. The virtual drive-mapping component communicates with back end interface 10B of server 4 via any of one of several types of connections, including: an Internet/Intranet/Extranet connection; dial-up connection; VPN connection; wireless connection; LAN; WAN; DSL/High speed connection or any other network connection. This allows a standard security measure to be installed, without the need to build additional modules. The WebDav component is installed in server 6 and may be hosted from a variety of WebServers including IIS from Microsoft, Apache and Tomcat. WebDAV is the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning extensions supported by IIS to allow bidirectional file access via HTTP/HTTPS. Extensions exist to support WebDAV on other HTTP/HTTPS servers as well. This, coupled with the use of WebDrive as the IFS (Installable file system) on client 4, a drive letter is mapped into a virtual directory on the server, which contains the hierarchy of shares created in step 508.

Referring to FIG. 10, detail is provided on access control by a client 4 to servers 6. As an interface, GUIs within the configuration management user interface are used to control access levels for users to servers 6 and PCs within a LAN or WAN environment. A user may have access to one or more shared servers 6 and/or PCs as defined by configuration management user interface 118. One of many views and ways to do this is for the administrator to add the specific server and/or PC via the configuration management user interface. A server and/or PC may be published via an “add” command. In this example the server name “ccl” is provided to the shared server name dialog box 1000. The server name may then be canceled or saved into the database within user profile data. Once published, the user may have access to one or more specific shared server and/or PCs that are defined by his user profile data, which is retrieved from back end interface 10B. Server 6 and PCs are dynamically mapped at both the server 6 and client 4. Shared server and/or PCs can also be removed by selecting the delete function of the specified server or PC. Selecting confirm will delete the specified server and/or PC via the configuration management user interface. Cancel will abort the delete operation.

Referring to FIG. 11, as the system operates in real-time, files, applications and servers may be dynamically added and deleted. The embodiment manages updates of system information for client 4 using an auto refresh module. The logic flow of the auto refresh module has first at step 1100 virtual drive mapping component 900 determining appropriate path or paths that must be monitored on server 6, by the auto refresh module to any changes to server data, files and folders. This auto refresh module synchronizes both client 4 and server 6 to ensure users have access to server data, files, and folders is accurately represented on client 4 in real time. At step 1102 once the path or paths have been established, the user profile data interface establishes a loop, which periodically asks server 6 if the path and/or paths have changed. At step 1104, the server communicator 106 on the network-server handles the request using an application interface (API) such as the Win32, or Linux APIs that calls the servlet which monitors the path or paths for any changes per step 1106. Any timeout deadline may be set. In an embodiment a timeout deadline of 15 seconds is set. When the API times out step 1108 is taken and a an indicator will be returned to the user profile data interface indicating that the path and/or paths did not change, such as FALSE, but any other indication may be utilized. If the server communicator 106 notes that the path or paths has changed prior to the timeout deadline, then no timeout will occur. At step 1110 a code will be returned to the User Profile Delivery System front-end code indicating that the path and/or paths did change. The code may be TRUE, but any other code indicator may be utilized. At step 1112 the code will be returned to the user profile data interface for evaluation.

At step 1114 the user profile interface evaluates the code that is sent to it to determine available paths. If the available paths have changed, the user profile interface will notify the system at step 1116 to refresh the user profile data interface on client 4 to accurately reflect and synchronize with server 6 in real time. This loop will continue to be performed until the user profile data interface is destroyed or closed.

Referring to FIG. 12, for applications stored on server 6 which may be accessed by clients 4, a management process is provided to control and manage publication and distribution of these server-based applications. Management allows a system administrator to assign specific hosted server based applications to a specific user and/or user groups via configuration management user interface of the system. In operation, a series of GUIs are displayed during the execution of the management process. Aspects of selected GUIs are described in turn.

The ability to publish and distribute hosted server based applications can be configured using the configuration management user interface 118 of the system. To publish server based hosted application, GUI 1200 is produced and the user selects “add”, application name from one of the many views available from the configuration management user interface. Then in GUI 1202 the user would type in any user-defined name for the hosted server based application, and its program path. For example, to launch a Microsoft Office word application, the application name could be “MS Word” or “Word”, and the application path could be “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.exe”. Once the application name and path have been defined, the management console may then use a Microsoft server API to retrieve the associated extensions relative to the published application by selecting the assign extensions. Once extensions are retrieved, the server based hosted application being published may require that a default extension is assigned from the retrieved extension list to complete the publishing of that application. The published application is then written to database 1166 d. Once published, the server based hosted application can now be distributed by the configuration management user interface to multi profile users using selections shown in GUI 1204. The system may distribute applications using Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) users and user groups. From the management console, published applications may dynamically be distributed to existing Active Directory (AD) users or user groups. Each user or user group may have access to different published applications as defined by the configuration management user interface of the system. Once the published server based hosted applications have been distributed, the setting are then saved back to the database 116 d of the user profile data within the system.

Referring now to FIG. 14, as part of the real-time management of resources, the embodiment tracks and synchronizes access to files amongst clients 4 and server 6. File synchronization is a recursive process to copy files from a primary profile source to a target and back to primary profile source, using a best-case algorithm (copy all, newest file wins) in order to minimize file copying over the network. It operates by examining and pulling both the primary profile file server source directory and the destination directory and copying files to the target. Preferably it does not delete files that have been deleted on the source, as this could possibly cause loss of data. Following the two instances below, files are then restored/copied back to the primary profile server. The profile server can be set using the configuration management user interface 118. As shown in GUI 1400, to edit a profile server, a user would type in the primary profile server name and hit the save button. The primary profile server name is then saved in the server registry 116 c.

File synchronization occurs at a connection instance and at the start or completion of an server based application. At connection and disconnection to the back end interface 10B, a user pulls files from a profile server or other profile sources and allows other users to interact with server files from their client 4 via the user profile data interface. Again, an interface may comprise of one or more interfaces such as a desktop launcher, server desktop, or client 4. When the system AppRunner process starts, its properties file can optionally contain information where to pull/restore files from primary profile file server source directory and the destination directory and copying files to the target before and after the Terminal Services server application runs. The AppRunner is a server-side program, which launches the server based application that the user selected, along with ensuring the user is logged out at the end of the session.

Referring now to FIG. 15, as noted earlier, a feature of the embodiment is the ability to access from a client 4, applications stored on server 6 as well as applications stored on client 4. Applications can be initially sought from server 6 and then from client 4 or vice versa. As part of the implementation of this access, the user at client 4 is kept aware of the ultimate source of an application using specific notations provided through icons associated with files for client 4. When an application for a file is located on client 4, one type of icon for that file is displayed on client 4. Conversely, when the application for a file is located on network 6, a different type of icon for that file is displayed on client 4. The identification of the appropriate icon to display is managed by the embodiment.

In particular, process flow 1500 for retrieving and displaying server and local client 4 icons on the user's profile data interface is shown. From a user profile data interface, the file-to-application association on client 4 is seamlessly and dynamically configured as per user's request. Icons are shared from server 6, as opposed to locally installed and configured applications. Icons for applications which client 4 does not have installed are derived from the server 6 application icons. These icons are encoded into java ImageIcon objects for transport, and then saved as “.ico” files for the client use. Java ImageIcons are Java library objects that are used to hold images, which are specifically used as icons inside of a Java application. Java does not allow these ImageIcons to be created from Windows ICO or .DLL resources. Instead a library for accessing icons from native sources and translated into Java ImageIcons is used, e.g. IconLib.dll. ImageIcons are transported from the server 6 to client 4 over link 8.

At step 1502 when the user profile data interface is launched, the server Iconlib.dll is invoked to retrieve all published hosted server based applications and their associated extensions using the system. The IconLib library handles all the native platform to Java translations for retrieving the icons from the system. These retrieved icons and their extensions are used to build a hash table on the server at step 1504. The hash table contains the relationships between the file extension (i.e. “.txt”) and the actual image. This hash table is then downloaded to the local client's 4 internal memory at step 1506. The user at login can select to use local or server applications first. If the user selects local applications first, client 4 Iconlib.dll is invoked to retrieve local applications and their associated extensions and then compare to server icons in client 4 internal memory to accurately populate the user profile data interface based on user's request. If the user selects server applications first, the server icons in client 4 memory are compared to the local client 4 Iconlib.dll retrieved applications and their associated extensions and are then used to accurately populate the user profile data interface based on user's request. The user profile contains the graphics for the icons and the path to run the application with. Both server 6 and local client 4 applications and their associated icons are then utilized by the system shell extension, which is activated when the user is logging in. The shell extension is used to add functionality (Icon Overlays, document activation, and Context Menu activation) to the Microsoft Windows Shell (Explorer).

The shell extension is comprised of two sides: a user profile data interface side (example: Java Side); and a client side (example: C++ Side). The user profile data interface side handles activation and deactivation of a C++ shell extension and registration of icons for un-handled extensions. On activation at step 1508, the shell extension first adjusts the extensions to fit the “.ext” pattern. At step 1510 the shell extension uses icons passed from server 6 to give icons to file patterns which have no local icons and override icons for applications that have local icon, when a client selects a “server first” for application execution. See for example, icon 2012 (FIG. 21).

The C++ shell extensions are then enabled in step 1512 by storing the activation state in the Microsoft Windows Registry. Client 4 then starts listening and polling at step 1514 for any changes or updates to files and their associated extensions on client 4. Upon a deactivation process, at step 1516 when the user logs out of his user profile data interface on client 4, all changes to local icons are restored. The listener stops listening and polling at step 1518 and the C++ shell extension is then deactivated at step 1520.

The C++ side handles integration with the user profile data interface on client 4. It does this by implementing interfaces provided by 3 Comm, e.g. IShellExecuteHook which is used to capture document activation events; IContextMenu3 which is used to add entries to the document's context menu; and ShelllconOverlayldentifier, which is used to overlay icons on top of Icons defined by the system and pass control to a common object. At 1520, common object handles activation and deactivation, icon display logic, identifying existence of a handler for an application when an object is in client first mode and communicating via a message key to the Java side.

It is useful to note the Shell Extension is a set of stateless objects, as they store all of the current activation information in the Microsoft Windows Registry. This allows multiple Windows Shell processes to start, and share the activation information, even though that specific instance of the Windows Shell was not activated.

Referring now to FIG. 16, a process for launching a hosted server based application is shown at 1600. From a user profile data interface, the user can seamlessly launch a hosted server based application using a local or server based file from client 4. To launch a hosted server based application, at step 1602 user's profile data interface is activated using the system. The process for icon logic at step 1604 will dynamically populate the user's profile data interface, so that hosted server based applications in association with local and server files on client 4 are tagged with the appropriate icon logic. The files tagged with a unique icon label overlay to signify to the user that launching that specific file will be accomplished using a hosted server based application. Both local and server files can be launched from the local client 4 using the system. Local files are defined as files available on client 4 hard drives. Server files are files on a server not located on client 4's local hard drives. When launching a local client 4 file using a hosted server based application, path 1606 is taken and the port knocking or secure gateway may or may not be utilized depending on settings set in configuration management user interface 118 turning port knocking or secure gateway on or off. For remote access the port knocking or secure gateway is generally turned on. For local LAN access the secure gateway is generally turned off. If the secure gateway is on, all application data will run through port 80 or port 443 eliminating the need to open unnecessary ports. If the secure gateway is off, port 80 and port 3389 may be required to be open to run the hosted server based application on the local LAN. If port knocking is turned on, then depending on the combination sequence sent by the client from the server for that instance of launching a server based application will perform the knock and open the port within a defined start and stop port range defined by the configuration management user interface. Each new instance from the client to server to launch a server based application will have it's own combination sequence to open the port. Saving any edits or modifications to the document can be achieved in the same manner as launching a local application. Closing or exiting a hosted server based application can be achieved in the same manner as closing or exiting a local application. When launching a server file using a hosted server based application path 1608 is taken and port knocking or secure gateway may or may not be utilized depending on settings set in configuration management user interface turning secure gateway on or off. For remote access the port knocking or secure gateway is generally turned on. For local LAN access the secure gateway is generally turned off. If the secure gateway is on, all application data will run through port 80 or port 443 eliminating the need to open unnecessary ports. If the secure gateway is through port 80, then port 3389 may be required to be open to run the hosted server based application on the local LAN. If port knocking is turned on, then depending on the combination sequence sent by the client from the server for that instance of launching a server based application will perform the knock and open the port within a defined start and stop port range defined by the configuration management user interface. Each new instance from the client to server to launch a server based application will have it's own combination sequence to open the port. Saving any edits or modifications to the document can be achieved in the same manner as launching a local application. Closing or exiting a hosted server based application can be achieved in the same manner as closing or exiting a local application.

In other embodiments on a Solaris, Unix or Linux client, the client side of the application runs may be implemented in a similar fashion. However, provisions may need to be made for drive shares and implementions of Terminal Services. In particular, the drive shares may not be not mapped via WebDAV to the client. Instead the drive shares may use a NFS. Also, the client may not use a Microsoft implementation of the Terminal Services Remote Desktop Client. Instead it may use a RDesktop client as a library.

Turning now to aspects of activation of application and files, a description is provided first on a process for activating a local application for client 4 for a file stored on server 6.

As such, referring now to FIG. 17, a process for launching a local application with server based files is shown. From a user profile data interface, the user can launch a local client 4 application using a server-based file similar to a LAN environment. Launching a local application with a server-based file is initiated at step 1700 from the user's profile data interface (one or more or a multitude of interfaces such as a desktop launcher, server desktop, or client 4) using the system. The icon logic module (FIG. 15) of the system dynamically populates the user's profile data interface, so that server files may use local applications on client 4. The icon logic for server files on client 4 is populated with the same icon label association as the files on the local client 4. For example, a Word file is labeled with a Word icon. Launching a server file with a local client 4 application may be achieved using a Microsoft Win 32 API similar to a LAN environment. A standard method of opening a server file, with a local client 4 application functions just like on a LAN environment. At step 1702 saving any edits or modifications to the document is performed in the same manner as launching a server file with a local client 4 application on the LAN environment. At step 1704 closing or exiting a document is performed in the same manner as closing or exiting a server file with a local client 4 application on the LAN environment.

Now, further detail is provided on selected interface and administrative functions of the embodiment.

Referring to FIG. 18, a management process is provided to control a user's access to web applications and services. In the course of execution of the management process, a series of GUIs are selected provided to the system administrator to assist in navigating through the process. The GUIs provide an interface for the administrator to assign specific web applications and services to a specific user and/or user groups via the configuration management user interface of the system.

In particular, publication and distribution of web applications and services are configured using the configuration management user interface 118 of the system. In GUI 1800 to publish web applications and services, a user selects “add” to add a web application or service name from one of the many views available from the configuration management user interface. Next in GUI 1802, the user enters any user defined name of the web application or services, and its URL location path. For example, if you are launching a Yahoo, the web application name could be “Yahoo”, and the application path could be “http://www.yahoo.com”. Once the web application or services name and path have been defined, selecting “save” in GUI 1804 writes the data to the database 116 d. Once published, the web application or service can now be distributed by the configuration management user interface to multi profile users. GUI 1806 provides the user with the interface to control this distribution. The system may distribute web applications or services using Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) users and user groups. From the management console, published web applications or services may dynamically be distributed to existing Active Directory (AD) users or user groups. Each user or user group may have access to different published web application or services as defined by the configuration management user interface of the system. Once the published server based hosted applications have been distributed, the setting are then saved back to the database 116 d of the user profile data within the system. To delete a web application or service, the user would select “delete” from the GUI 1804 to confirm action.

Referring to FIG. 19, once configurations of web applications and services are complete, each application and service is available for launching. To launch a web application or service, a series of GUIs are provided to the administrator to guide him through the process. From the user profile data interface the user may select a web application or service by activation of the appropriate selection.

During login process 290 (FIG. 2), the system gets, loads and integrates the user's profile information into the user profile data interface on the client 4. A user may launch 1902 the web application or service by one of two methods. In the first method the user clicks on an icon image object shown on client 4 to launch the specific web service or application. In the second method the user launches the specific web service or application from the user profile data interface on the client from a pull down tab. Both methods will send a get web application URL string to the server 6. The system will capture the user profile data interface content and open a new web browser window to display the web application or service. To logout of the web application or service, simply close the browser window or selecting logout from the pull down tab of the desktop launcher.

Referring to FIG. 20, a procedure to logout of the system is shown. To logout of the system, the user simply closes the user profile data interface (which could be one or more, or a multitude of interfaces such as a desktop launcher, server desktop, or client 4) by clicking on the x or from the pull down tab selecting logout. A dialog box will prompt the user “Do you really want to logout?” if the user selects cancel, the logout command will be aborted and the user will remain logged into their user profile data interface. If the user selects “yes”, the user's data profile will be saved back at the server via the server communicator. All user profile data and virtual drive mapping on client 4 will be removed and deleted. The user will then be transparently logged out from both client 4 and the server.

Turning back to load balancing and FIG. 8 b, load balancing is invoked when the client requests a hosted server based application and the server side is aware of the existence of multiple networked terminal services server IP's in the server registry data, as defined by the configuration management user interface. Load balancing is also defined in the configuration management user interface 118 to execute a specific method of load balancing. Load balancing methods such a CPU load monitoring, round robin balancing, per user, per server count and random balancing may be used. To add terminal server from GUI 1300, a user selects the “add” button and enters the server name and the Port to utilize terminal services shown in GUI 1302. Selecting “save” saves the inputted server data to the server registry 116 c, which is utilized by the user's profile data. To remove networked terminal services server, GUI 1304 is displayed and the user selects “delete” and confirms the server to be deleted in GUI 1306.

Back end interface 10B performs several steps to connect the Windows Terminal Services client (RDPWindow) to the Window Terminal Services Server. When the client requires a connection, the system opens a tunneled HTTP/HTTPS connection to the server, which communicates to the ISAPI (Information Server API) plugin over HTTP (or HTTPS). This creates the Virtual Terminal Services Port (VTSP) on the client machine. Next, the RDPWindow attaches to the VTSP which, in turn begins communicating across the HTTP(or HTTPS) connection to the ISAPI plugin. When the first actual data reaches the ISAPI plugin, it selects a Windows Terminal Services server to connect to, and associates the VTSP with that actual Terminal Server. The selection process is a simple, round-robin selection.

Referring to FIG. 13, a series of GUIs for the load-balancing module are shown. The load-balancing module of the system dynamically controls user requests to launch hosted server based applications on one or more network terminal services server. Load balancing occurs when more than one terminal services server is used within a domain. Load balancing is a feature more suited to environments having more than one networked server 6. Servers 6 may be added or removed via one of many views using the configuration management user interface 118.

Although the invention has been described with reference to certain specific embodiments, various modifications thereof will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as outlined in the claims appended hereto.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification1/1, 707/999.001
International ClassificationG06F17/30
Cooperative ClassificationH04L67/36, H04L67/306, H04L67/10, H04L63/102
European ClassificationH04L63/10B, H04L29/08N9, H04L29/08N29U, H04L29/08N35
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 9, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: DESKTOPSITES INC., CANADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:PERPETUAL MOTION INC.;REEL/FRAME:016685/0725
Effective date: 20050421
Owner name: PERPETUAL MOTION INC., CANADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SERACK, GARRETT;REEL/FRAME:016685/0772
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BETHLEHEM, ALEX;ARMSTRONG, LAURA;CHEN, YAN;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:016687/0260
Effective date: 20050422