SYSTEM FOR IDENTIFYING NEW CLIENT
AND ALLOCATING BANDWIDTH THERETO
BY MONITORING TRANSMISSION OF
MESSAGE RECEIVED PERIODICALLY
FROM CLIENT COMPUTERS INFORMING 5
OF THEIR CURRENT STATUS
INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent 10 application filed Nov. 15,1994 Ser. No. 08/340,172, entitled "Synchronizing Computer Systems" of Benjamin Vrvilo, still pending which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/157,694, filed Nov. 24, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,506,954 both of which are incorporated 15 herein in their entireties by reference. This application is related to U.S. patent application filed Nov. 16, 1994, entitled "Conferencing Over Multiple Transports" of Gunner Danheels, et al.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to computer-based conferencing, and, in particular, to audio/video conferencing between personal computers over a computer network.
2. Description of the Related Art
It is desirable to provide audio/video conferencing between computers of a computer network. To provide audio and video playback of acceptable quality, such a conference 30 involves the transmission of a relatively constant stream of packets of audio and video signals over the network between the computers. Since a computer network has a finite transmission bandwidth, the ability of the network to support multiple simultaneous conferences depends upon the 35 amount of network bandwidth available for conferencing, the amount of bandwidth required for the individual conferences, and the number of conferences. If computers on the network attempt to participate in simultaneous conferences requiring too much bandwidth, the network may fail 40 to support not only one or more of the conferences, but possibly any and all of the conferences.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide efficient management of the allocation of the finite bandwidth available for conferences involving computers of a 45 computer network.
Further objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the detailed description of a preferred embodiment which follows.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is a computer system, comprising a management computer and one or more client computers. The management computer and the client computers are 55 electrically interconnected over a packet-switched computer network. During transmission over the computer network, the client computer transmits messages to the management computer to inform the management computer of the status of the transmission. 60
The present invention is also a computer-implemented process for monitoring transmissions on a packet-switched computer network. Messages are transmitted from a client computer of the computer network to a management computer of the computer network, wherein the messages inform 65 the management computer of transmissions involving the client computer. A record is maintained for the client com
puter' s transmissions by the management computer in accordance with the messages from the client computer.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment, the appended claims, and the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the architecture of a computer network, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of the processing implemented in the computer network of FIG. 1 to initiate a conference between two client computers;
FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing the network connections made by the caller, callee, and their manager initiate a local conference;
FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing the network connections made by the caller, callee, and their respective managers to initiate an external conference;
FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of the conference discovery processing of the computer network of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of the conference aging processing of the computer network of FIG. 1.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
Computer Network Architecture
Referring now the FIG. 1, there is shown a block diagram of the architecture of computer network 100, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Computer network 100 comprises N local area networks (LAN 1, LAN 2,..., LAN N) that are interconnected via external links 106 and wide area network (WAN) link 108. Each LAN comprises a management computer 102 (e.g., manager 1 of LAN 1) and a plurality of client computers 104 (e.g., client 11, client 12, ... , client IX of LAN 1).
Management computer 102 allocates portions of network bandwidth to its client computers 104 for purposes of participating in conferences with other client computers 104 of the network. For purposes of this patent application, allocating bandwidth means granting permission to a client computer 104 to use a specified amount of bandwidth. Allocating bandwidth also implies keeping track of the sum of the bandwidfhs granted by a management computer 102 to its client computers 104. In a preferred embodiment, management computer 102 does not enforce or even monitor how much bandwidth its client computers 104 actually use. Management computer 102 assumes that its client computers 104 comply with its bandwidth allocations.
Management computer 102 distinguishes between two types of conferences: local and external. A local conference is a conference between client computers 104 that are associated with the same management computer 102. An external conference is one between client computers 104 that are associated with different management computers 102.
Referring again to FIG. 1, the client computers 104 of LAN 1 (i.e., clients 11, 12, ... , IX) are associated with manager 1; the client computers 104 of LAN 2 (i.e., clients 21,22..., 2Y) are associated with manager 2; and the client computers 104 of LAN N (i.e., clients Nl, N2,..., NZ) are associated with manager N. An example of a local conference is one between client 11 and client 12, both of which