US20060041931A1 - Service level assurance system and method for wired and wireless broadband networks - Google Patents

Service level assurance system and method for wired and wireless broadband networks Download PDF

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US20060041931A1
US20060041931A1 US11089238 US8923805A US2006041931A1 US 20060041931 A1 US20060041931 A1 US 20060041931A1 US 11089238 US11089238 US 11089238 US 8923805 A US8923805 A US 8923805A US 2006041931 A1 US2006041931 A1 US 2006041931A1
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client
network
user device
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Robert Boxall
Vojislav Samsalovic
Biju Nair
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Smith Micro Software Inc
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PCTEL Inc
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/08Configuration management of network or network elements
    • H04L41/0803Configuration setting of network or network elements
    • H04L41/0813Changing of configuration
    • H04L41/082Changing of configuration due to updating or upgrading of network functionality, e.g. firmware
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/50Network service management, i.e. ensuring proper service fulfillment according to an agreement or contract between two parties, e.g. between an IT-provider and a customer
    • H04L41/5035Measuring contribution of individual network components to actual service level
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
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    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/50Network service management, i.e. ensuring proper service fulfillment according to an agreement or contract between two parties, e.g. between an IT-provider and a customer
    • H04L41/5061Customer care
    • H04L41/5067Customer-centric quality of service [QoS] measurement
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/50Network service management, i.e. ensuring proper service fulfillment according to an agreement or contract between two parties, e.g. between an IT-provider and a customer
    • H04L41/5061Customer care
    • H04L41/507Filtering out customers affected by service problems
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L43/00Arrangements for monitoring or testing packet switching networks
    • H04L43/08Monitoring based on specific metrics
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L43/00Arrangements for monitoring or testing packet switching networks
    • H04L43/12Arrangements for monitoring or testing packet switching networks using dedicated network monitoring probes
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L63/00Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security
    • H04L63/08Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security for supporting authentication of entities communicating through a packet data network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L63/00Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security
    • H04L63/16Implementing security features at a particular protocol layer
    • H04L63/162Implementing security features at a particular protocol layer at the data link layer
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/04Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for terminals or networks with limited resources or for terminal portability, e.g. wireless application protocol [WAP]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/12Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for proprietary or special purpose networking environments, e.g. medical networks, sensor networks, networks in a car or remote metering networks
    • H04L67/125Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for proprietary or special purpose networking environments, e.g. medical networks, sensor networks, networks in a car or remote metering networks involving the control of end-device applications over a network
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
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    • H04W12/06Authentication
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/50Network service management, i.e. ensuring proper service fulfillment according to an agreement or contract between two parties, e.g. between an IT-provider and a customer
    • H04L41/5003Managing service level agreement [SLA] or interaction between SLA and quality of service [QoS]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/50Network service management, i.e. ensuring proper service fulfillment according to an agreement or contract between two parties, e.g. between an IT-provider and a customer
    • H04L41/5003Managing service level agreement [SLA] or interaction between SLA and quality of service [QoS]
    • H04L41/5009Determining service level performance, e.g. measuring SLA quality parameters, determining contract or guarantee violations, response time or mean time between failure [MTBF]
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04W76/10Connection setup

Abstract

A system and method are provided for tracking and reporting the performance of a network. A client or a user device can access the network through a wired connection or wireless access points. The client maintains a log or track the events that occur during the log-on attempts as well as the communication sessions as well as other data related to the network performance. During the communication session data can be transferred between the client and a network device, such as the central server or a database, in the network, regardless of whether the network device is trusted and secure or not secure.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/555,812, filed Mar. 23,2004 (Atty. Dkt.: 069509-0308954)entitled “Service Level Assurance System and Method for Wired and Wireless Broadband Networks” and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/555,988, filed Mar. 23, 2004 (Atty. Dkt.: 069509-0308956) entitled “Method and System for Automatic Data Transfer on a Network-Connected Device”, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety and for all purposes.
  • The present application is related to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/504,152, filed Sep. 19, 2003 (Atty. Dkt.: 069509-0306053) and entitled “Automated Updating System for Wireless Networks,” commonly owned by the present assignee, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety and for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates generally to systems and methods for network management, and more particularly relates to systems and methods for monitoring and managing the quality of service of a broadband service offering.
  • There are many devices capable of connecting to a data network, be it wired or wireless. The networks that support connections to these devices are typically broadband networks, whether wired or wireless. Carriers providing such services are often required to commit to specified levels of service for their customers. These commitments are sometimes referred to as Service Level Assurance (SLA). Even in the absence of a SLA commitment, broadband providers typically continuous monitor and attempt to improve the quality of their service offerings. Various methods are used for determining quality of service, all of which typically involve monitoring various network parameters. Among the network parameters that are typically monitored are: number of connect attempts, connection location (hot spot, dial up node, Ethernet node), signal strength, data rates (effective as well as available), connection duration, and so on.
  • Therefore, what is needed is a system and method for tracking and reporting the performance of a network that includes various broadband access points throughout the network.
  • SUMMARY
  • A system and method are provided for tracking and reporting the performance of a network. A client or a user device can access the network through a wired connection or wireless access points. The client maintains a log or track the events that occur during the log-on attempts as well as the communication sessions as well as other data related to the network performance. During the communication session data can be transferred between the client and a network device, such as the central server or a database, in the network, regardless of whether the network device is trusted and secure or not secure.
  • THE FIGURES
  • These and other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates in block diagram form the interoperation of the present invention with a service provider's network operations center;.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates in block diagram form an exemplary CCS architecture in accordance with the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 illustrates in time line form an exemplary SPI client-server transaction where the SPI server is in the network provider's “Whitespace”;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates in block diagram form an exemplary SPI client-server transaction where the SPI server is not in the network provider's “Whitespace”;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a simple message exchange sequence between the SPI client and the SPI server;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a message exchange between the SPI client and the SPI server involving authentication;
  • FIG. 7A-7D illustrate an authentication sequence in an exemplary implementation of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 8 is a flow chart for the process of authenticating a client.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention will now be described in detail with reference to the drawings, which are provided as illustrative examples of the invention so as to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. Notably, the figures and examples below are not meant to limit the scope of the present invention. Where certain elements of the present invention can be partially or fully implemented using known components, only those portions of such known components that are necessary for an understanding of the present invention will be described, and detailed descriptions of other portions of such known components will be omitted so as not to obscure the invention. Further, the present invention encompasses present and future known equivalents to the components referred to herein by way of illustration.
  • Referring now to FIG. 1, the general context and operation of the present invention can be appreciated. The network management system (NMS)100 of the present invention interacts with one or more devices 110A-n (sometimes collectively referred to hereinafter as “devices 110”), which have been suitably configured to provide quality of service information to the NMS 100. The NMS 100 in turn communicates with the network operation center (NOC) 120, which is not part of the invention and is typically resident at the premises of a network service provider.
  • Devices 110A-n include computers having thereon a “roaming client” functionality, which includes Service Provider Interface (SPI) functionality, or a PDA, a Cell phone, a camera, an MP3 device, or any other network connected device or appliance capable with SPI functionality, that is, capable of contacting the NMS 100 and then executing appropriate commands received back from the NMS 100 including responding to queries with appropriate status information.
  • The NMS 100 includes, in an exemplary arrangement, three functional components, designated in FIG. 1 as a Central Configuration Server (CCS) 130, a SPI 140, and a Service Level Assurance (SLA) module 150. The exchange between an SPI-enabled device 110 and the SLA module 150 begins when an SPI-enabled device 110 provides information such as, for example, ID, location, IP address, and/or other relevant information. When an SPI-enabled device 110 contacts the SLA module 150, the SLA module 150 queries, via the SPI 140 and CCS 150, the appropriate SPI enabled devices 110A-n, which in turn responds to the queries and provide appropriate information concerning location, connect attempts, failures, signal strength, available and effective data rates, and any other status or location information which the carrier deems appropriate.
  • The SPI 140 gathers the responses from the SPI-enables devices 110A-n and, if necessary, formats the information for forwarding to the NOC. In an exemplary arrangement, the NOC includes appropriate functionality to accumulate the data from the SPI-enabled devices 110A-n, and generate appropriate reports for management of the network resources. It will be appreciated that the foregoing approach has the advantage of allowing communication between the SLA module 150 and compatible, SPI-enabled devices 110 even if the SPI-enabled devices 110 are behind a firewall, because the protocol is text-based and is carried over standard HTTP(S) ports, typically ports 80 and 443.
  • From the foregoing it can be appreciated that the present invention enables the client or device 110to communicate with the NOC. In addition, the functionality provided by the present invention also allows the NOC to communicate, through the NMS 100, back to the SPI enabled devices 110. In particular, the NOC may desire to instruct the client or device 110 to perform various functions, for example launching a browser or other application, or directing users to a particular web page. The operation may also include a push of content to the end user, or an upload or download of files, for example software upgrades, from a desired location, which may be either pre-arranged or specified on the fly. One particular instance of redirecting a client device 110 may be to enable further communications. For example, if an account is not active, the NOC may direct the SPI-enabled device 110 to a provisional URL or other web page so that that user can obtain an account or otherwise establish credentials.
  • The functionality of the present invention requires a previously unachieved level of cooperation among the components of the system described herein. One aspect of the invention is the client-side functionality, represented generally at 110A-n by the roaming client module or software indicated at 110A-B, which includes SPI enablement, and by which network connectivity is achieved for a variety of SPI-enabled devices 110A-n as described above.
  • In an exemplary arrangement, the SPI capabilities incorporated into the roaming client and other SPI-enabled devices 110 include: aggregation of disparate wireless networks under one service umbrella; prioritization of wireless networks; support for seamless roaming between networks, including Wi-Fi and GPRS; support for automatic authentication between networks that have complex and non standard mechanisms for user authentication and administration; access Point Location database; and, automatic and remote update of network attributes, location database, and Roaming Client software updates. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the SPI could easily be expanded to include other capabilities.
  • The SPI-enabled roaming client module 110further includes several features that are remotely updateable and/or upgradeable, including the executable software, location finder database, roaming partner data, carrier/PCOEM/enterprise preferences, user interface skins, and hardware drivers.
  • Referring next to FIG. 2, one exemplary configuration of the CCS 130 can be better appreciated. The CCS 130 allows carriers, PC-OEMs, and Enterprises to manage the storage and flow of updates and upgrades to clients from a single location, and can further provide reporting and tools to manage the ability to push new data to clients. The CCS 130 operates to provide version control, code management, and flow control for all updateable features within the Roaming Client software. In addition, the CCS 130 allows management and manipulation of “Hotspot” location database information, roaming partner database information, and the gated upload capabilities for these databases. The CCS 130 also allows the carrier, PCOEM, or Enterprise to manage versioned software files, such as executable files of the Roaming Client application and user interface skins. In addition the CCS 130 can be used in conjunction with the Roaming Client to update other files on a user's PC that are not directly related to the roaming client application, such as device drivers.
  • The CCS 130 also negotiates download parameters, such as bandwidth, frequency, and duration of downloads with each client, based on rules that are predetermined by the carrier, PCOEM, Enterprise, or configured by the end user. Stated slightly differently, the CCS 130 may be thought of as a secure, web-based administrative console, which provides the capability for updating the various pre-defined and provider-specific parameters for the Roaming Client. In addition, the CCS 130 allows management and manipulation of “Hotspot” location database information, roaming partner database information, and the gated upload capabilities for these databases. Together, the combination of the CCS 130 with the user connectivity tool of the Roaming Client provides a dynamic wireless access management solution.
  • In an exemplary implementation, the CCS 130 may be architected based on the J2EE framework. In at least such an implementation, the CCS 130 need not use a middle tier or business tier, and therefore need not include an Enterprise Java Beans server. The CCS 130 functionality may reside on a personal computer or a Sun SPARC workstation, or similar computing platform, and any suitable operating system such as Windows, Linux or Solaris. Typical software requirements for such an exemplary arrangement include compatibility with a Java Servelet specification, for example version 2.3, and a JSP application such as version 1.2, as well as with a suitable database server, for example Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or similar. It may also be desirable to include compatibility with JDK 1.4.1 or later, at least for application servers.
  • Referring again to FIG. 2, it can be appreciated that the CCS architecture 200 includes an operating system layer 210 that communicates with the selected operating system (not shown), which in the illustrated example is Windows 2000 Advanced Server. A web application server 220, which may for example be based on the J2EE standard and certified on Jakarta Tomcat, layers atop the OS layer 210, as does a database module 230, which may, for example, be compliant with SQL 2000 and certified on MS SQL Server. Layered atop the application server module 220 and database module 230 are various modules for managing connections via different protocols. Thus, for example, Wi-Fi connection data is managed at 240, GPRS connection data is managed at 250, Location Finder data is managed at 260, and Custom Application data is managed at 270.
  • The SPI 140 operates to provide the device 110access to a network, such as through an access point (AP) located at a hotspot. To put this aspect in context, a brief discussion of WiFi hotspots is helpful. In the case of WiFi hotspot deployments, a Service Provider typically has hundreds if not thousands of different locations that a user can connect to. These locations may be maintained by the service provider or provided by a roaming agreement with another provider.
  • In one typical scenario, a user arrives at a location, connects to the network, and then launches their WEB browser. The user attempts to get to the Internet, but is then captured and redirected by the local network administration server (NAS) device, whereupon the user is requested to authenticate or sign up and pay for service.
  • In the case of the Roaming Client, the SPI protocol allows additional steps to be performed. The basic goal of the SPI protocol is to allow the Roaming Client the ability to communicate to the service provider before and after login into a local hotspot. This client/server communication allows a service provider to perform various checks on the client, and push back different actions for the client to execute depending on the Roaming Clients state.
  • The SPI 140 provides a client/server communications protocol, and can be implemented on any web server that supports such a protocol. The SPI protocol allows a trusted web server to execute actions on the devices 110. In an exemplary arrangement, the SPI protocol may, for example, be an XML-based messaging protocol that uses HTTPS as the primary transport for secure communications between the client and server. The SPI 140 and CCS 130 interact in that the CCS 130 is the mechanism that allows a provider to modify specific parameters on the client, while the SPI protocol is the mechanism that allows specific actions to be executed on the client, for example, login and authentication in some embodiments. Such actions may use parameters that are pushed to the client via the CCS interface.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the operation of the SPI 140 can be better appreciated from the procedure for login and authentication. In this example, a provider deploys a hotspot and deploys a server that supports the SPI protocol. A user associates with the hotspot and physically establishes a connection between the client machine and the hotspot.
  • In Wi-Fi there is a notion of physical “connection” to a hotspot although the user has not authenticated. In this case the Roaming Client is considered to be in the “Connected” state (although not yet authenticated). At this point, the Roaming Client can initiate communication to the provider's SPI server to inform the server about its current state and other attributes associated with the client.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the Roaming Client will only initiate SPI transactions to servers that are considered “trusted”, or in the providers “White List”. This will allow the provider to send back to the Client pre-authentication actions to be executed. After authentication, the client will again post its INFO status to the SPI server, allowing post-authentication actions to be executed by the client. Finally, when the client disconnects, final messages can be executed related to disconnection from the network.
  • Examples of pre-authentication actions that a client may execute using SPI 140 include, but are not limited to, provisioning a new user, pushing surcharge information to a client, requesting statistics from the client, and prompting a user for a password. Post-authentication actions includes pushing the time remaining, pushing advertising, pushing a custom skin, and pushing a message. Examples of disconnect actions includes sending log-off data, such as a thank you or other message, and sending usage statistics. It will be appreciated that such actions can be provided to the NOC in accordance with the present invention to provide dynamic monitoring and data gathering.
  • However, if the server is not in the network provider's “White List”, as illustrated in FIG. 4, no actions can be executed by the SPI server until the client has authenticated to the network, but all appropriate actions can be taken once the client has authenticated.
  • Referring next to FIG. 5, the SPI protocol is shown in an exemplary arrangement, wherein the SPI protocol is primarily based on two message packages: INFO and ACTION. The INFO or information message communicates from the client to the SPI server the client's current status. The, ACTION message communicates from the server to the client an action that the SPI server wants the client to execute. Thus, an INFO message may comprise, for example,
    <status> the current state of the client</status>
    <username>username</username>
    <password>password of user </password>
    <error> reported error code</error>
    <provider> the name of the service provider</provider>
    <location>Geographic location of basestation </location>
    <sessionid> session id generated</sessionid>
    <ip> ip address of users device </ip>
    <mac> MAC address of users adapter</mac>
      <bssid>access point mac address</bssid>
      <linkspeed>reported link speed from basestation</linkspeed>
      <rssi>reported signal strength from basestation</rssi>
      <hwvendor>hardware vendor of basestation</hwvendor>
      <driverversion>software driver version</driverversion>
      <hostname>basestation host name</hostname>
      <wisprattribs>WISPr attributes supported</wisprattribs>
      <popid>POP Identification name</popid>
      ...
      ...
      ...(Other Parameter/Value pairs)
     </>
  • Similarly, the ACTION message may take the form
      <actions>
        <action name =”ACTION NAME”>
          <parameter name=”PARAMETER NAME”
            type=”single”>
          <value> VALUE </value>
        </parameter>
        </action>
      </actions>
    </>
  • In one exemplary arrangement, the Roaming Client initiates communication with the SPI Protocol Server. As noted previously, in such arrangements, the SPI server will be a web server deployed to communicate with and manage SPI enabled devices, such as the Roaming Client or other devices 110. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the SPI Server is a functionality, which may reside on a dedicated hardware server, or may coexist with other software functions on one or more hardware servers, each of which may be a PC, a workstation, or similar computer processing device.
  • Referring now to FIG. 6, a representation of an SPI message exchange sequence 600 between a client and a server according to the present invention is shown. The SPI message 600 describes an idealized login scenario for a user who has an already-existing subscription and has successfully logged in at a particular carrier's hotspot and completed the upload successfully. As noted above, the transactions described in this section happen in an automated fashion when the client or MMD arrives at a hotspot hosted by a wireless service provider, the following sequence happens with no or limited user interaction.
  • At Client Request 602, the user attempts to go to a particular website, for example www.mystorage.mywireless.com/myaccount, using an SPI component embedded in the MMD. At NAS Response 604, the NAS responds with a redirect because the MMD is not authenticated. At Client Request 606, which is the INFO portion of the SPI enable client device communication with the NMS (FIG. 5), the SPI client component embedded in the MMD makes a request to the SPI server with its current INFO. In this example, State =Connected, but not logged in. At SPI Server Response 608, the SPI server responds with an Action message as required by the protocol definition. Because the client device state is not “Logged In,” the SPI server sends an Action message to the client, in this case “login” action, which also contains a URL to the authentication server in the form of a parameter name/value pair in the login message. At Client Request 610, the client parses the action message and then responds with a POST request to the authentication server URL providing the user name and password or a single unique device code embedded in the device. At Authentication Server Response 612, the authentication server responds with a successful login message. At 614, the client sends a start upload request. At 616, the server responds with a start upload command sending the upload location URL as a parameter. At 618, the client MMD parses the location URL and begins upload to that location. At 620, the server responds with an affirmative on upload complete.
  • A further example of authentication is shown in FIGS. 7A-7D, with an attempt to connect to an Acme Company server. Referring first to FIG. 7A, the user connects to Acme's wireless network through Acme's AP. The user makes a request to a URL outside of Acme's “white list” of “free” servers. The request passes through to the Acme's Network Access Server (NAS), which verifies whether the user has been authenticated. The next step could occur through alternative processes. In one exemplary arrangement, CCS attributes initially pushed to the SPI-enabled device are used by the SPI device as the parameters for connecting to the network. For example, the Roaming Client 110will use parameters pushed to it from CCS during client updates for authentication purposes.
  • In an alternative arrangement, HTTP headers provided by the network (the provider's NOC, for example) may be used to provide the SPI device with operating parameters. The Roaming Client can also parse attributes from the network in real time. In some cases a provider may use an authentication API that specifies attribute values utilizing http headers.
  • For purposes of the present example, Acme's NAS responds back to the client's original request with an UNAUTHORIZED response with custom HTTP headers. The custom HTTP headers could have also been returned after the client connected to the URL in the redirect request. Regardless of how the headers are provided, these headers will then be utilized in the next step of the authentication process, shown in FIG. 7B.
  • In FIG. 7B, the client parses the information from the NAS response, then initiates an http request to the SPI server to report the client's status as part of the INFO package message. The SPI server URL was previously provided by the CCS in a Client update Configuration. The INFO package below represents the message that the client will send to the SPI server in this example.
    <Seque version - “1.0”>
      Status>Connected/status>
      <username></username>
      <password></password>
      <error></error>
      <provider>Acme Wireless</provider>
      <location>location1</location>
      <sessionid></sessionid>
      <1p>192.168.11.1</ip>
      <mac>AA-BB-CC-DD-EE-FF</mac>
  • It should be noted that some parameters are populated with information, which may be provided, for example, by the NAS in the prior step.
  • The SPI server then responds with an Action message appropriate for the client's current state, as well as other variables in the INFO message package, as shown in FIG. 7C. In this example, the SPI server responds with an Action message to prompt the user for credentials, execute a login, then send an INFO message package back to the SPI server. In the exemplary arrangement shown in FIGS. 7A-7D, each action will be executed in the order received.
  • Referring next to FIG. 7D, the client then executes the actions specified by the SPI server. The client prompts the user for username and password (credentials), and then executes the “login” action directive. In the case of username and password, a specific action is sent by the Acme's SPI server to direct the client to prompt the user to input the username and password: <action>promptCredentials</action>.
  • When the client receives the <action>logon</action> directive, it posts the credential information to the URL provided by the NAS (see above) or use the value pushed down to the client by the CCS. In either case, the authentication method that is implemented must be able to utilize this value when the login method is executed. In a typical arrangement, the provider has implemented a custom authentication method on the client using the Authentication API. The authentication method utilizes the custom parameter AcmeWirelessLogin-URL, which was provided by the NAS device previously, see FIG. 7B.
  • The login action is executed, and the credentials are sent to the authentication server URL. The Authentication server then completes the transaction with an authentication response to the client.
  • Referring now to FIG. 8, the process of authentication of a client begins at step 800. At step 802, the client initiates a communication session with an access point device or an access point interface (API) and attempts to access the Internet. At step 804, the API determines, based on communication with the service provider's authentication server and the associated database, if the client is an authenticated client. If so, then at step 806 the client is allowed to access the desired URL. If not, then at step 808 the client is directed to an SPI resident on a NMS. It will be apparent to one of skill in the art that the SPI may be operating on its own server and not as part of the NMS and hence be a stand alone server. At step 810, the SPI of the NMS queries the client for information and the client provides the relevant information for authentication. At step 812, the SPI of the NMS pushes an ACTION to the client for automatic sign-on and the URL necessary for the communication session. The process continues at step 806 until the client initiates termination of the communication session. At step 814, the SPI of the NMS receives the termination request and determines if the termination and logoff process should be initiated. If not, then the process remains at step 814 until it is time to initiate the termination process. When it is time to initiate the termination, at step 816, the SPI of the NMS pushes a termination ACTION to the client. The client terminates the session and disconnects from the AP.
  • The INFO message can be configured to provide to the NMS 100 (FIG. 1) a variety of information suitable for monitoring and management of a network. Alternatively, and in some embodiments a presently preferred arrangement, the client can be configured to maintain an event log containing a record of various events, which can be uploaded to the NOC 120 through the NMS 100 upon request.
  • Table 1, below, shows, for an exemplary arrangement only, a combined list of the types of information which can be either delivered as part of the INFO message, or maintained in an event log and uploaded upon request:
    Parameter
    Name Description XML Syntax Example
    status The Status attribute <status>loggedin</status>
    provides information
    about the client to the
    server side logic and to
    allow the server to
    determine a set of actions
    that should be performed
    by the client.
    The possible states that
    are supported in the
    status element are listed
    in “Table 2: Supported
    Status Attributes” below.
    username Username information <username>someuser</username>
    allows access to the user's
    account and displaying of
    appropriate content for
    user account status. If not
    provided, the server
    assumes this is a new
    customer. However, a link
    may be provided allowing
    existing users to enter
    existing
    username/password
    manually.
    realm The realm attribute as <realm>@provider.com</realm>
    entered by the user or
    inserted by the client that
    represents the realm the
    user is authenticating to.
    password Password information is <password>somepass</password>
    required for accessing
    user's account. If not
    provided, the server
    should prepopulate
    username field and
    prompt user to enter
    password before being
    able to access account
    info.
    error Error codes provide <error>0</error>
    additional information Error Codes Vary with
    about the client status access mode.
    and why that condition
    occurred. Error codes are
    relative to the technology
    that is currently being
    used:
    Wi-Fi error codes are
    generated by the local AP
    based on API method i.e.
    WISPr.
    GPRS error codes are
    generated either by the
    dial in RAS server or the
    GPRS network.
    Modem error codes are
    generated by the dial in
    RAS.
    provider Provider identifier passed <provider>CarrierXYZ</provider>
    by the local NAS.
    location Location identifier passed <location>wp_700</location>
    by the local NAS.
    sessionid Session identifier passed <sessionid>12345</sessionid>
    by the local NAS. In some
    instances the session id
    may be generated by
    RADIUS. Session id will
    be collected if present,
    although many providers
    may not generate a
    session id.
    securitytype The type of security used <securitytype>EAP-
    in the authentication of TTLS</securitytype>
    the user to the network.
    Possible values:
    Empty Field
    WEP-Open
    WEP-Closed
    EAP-TTLS
    EAP-TLS
    EAP-PEAP
    EAP-LEAP
    EAP-TKIP
    EAP-PSK
    ip Current IP address of the <ip>192.168.11.1</ip>
    client machine.
    mac MAC address assigned to <mac>AA-BB-CC-DD-EE-FF</mac>
    the client machine.
    bssid The base station (Access <bssid>AA-BB-CC-DD-EE-FF</bssid>
    Point) id
    linkspeed The reported link speed in <linkspeed>11000000</linkspeed>
    bps.
    i.e. 11 Mbps Wi-Fi
    connections is reported as
    11000000. 56 Kbps
    modem connection is
    reported as 56000.
    rssi The reported signal <rssi>−48</rssi>
    strength as reported by
    the adapter in dBm.
    hwvendor The adapter vendor as <hwvendor>acme_ap</hwvendor>
    reported by the adapter.
    driverversion The driver version as <driverversion>1.2.43.2</driverversion>
    reported by the adapter.
    hostname The reported hostname of <hostname>acme_wireless
    the AP </hostname>
    popid POP user identifier <popid></popid>
    information. This field Dial Connection only
    contains the unique user
    id the provider assigns to
    each user.
    hispid Home ISP id. <hispid></hispid>
    hispsubid Home sub ISP id <hissubid></hissubid>
    connecttime Timestamp when users <accesstime>2207520000
    establish the connection </accesstime>
    in milliseconds since
    midnight Jan. 1, 1970
    GMT
    authtime Timestamp when the user <authtime>2207520000</authtime>
    authenticates to the
    network in milliseconds
    since midnight Jan. 1,
    1970 GMT
    logofftime Timestamp when the user <logofftime>2207520000</logofftime>
    logs out of the network in
    milliseconds since
    midnight Jan. 1, 1970
    GMT
    disconnecttime Timestamp when the user <disconnecttime>2207520000
    is disconnected from the </disconnecttime>
    network in milliseconds
    since midnight Jan. 1,
    1970 GMT
    sessionduration Total connection time <duration>Seconds</duration>
    between authentication
    and logout.
    setup Setup time. Total time in <setup>Connection setup
    milliseconds between time in
    connect time and milliseconds</setup>
    authentication to the
    network. (authtime -
    connecttime).
    bdial Blind dial is set to ‘N’ for <bdial>Y</bdial>
    No Blind dial or ‘Y’ to
    indicate a Blind dial. This
    information is supported
    in Analog, ISDN, DoPA
    and PIAFS access modes.
    BDIAL will be set to ‘N’ by
    default.
    clientversion Version of the client. <clientversion>1.3.2.1234
    </clientversion>
    Format: w.x.y.z
    w = Major Software
    version
    loccode It indicates the Country <loccode>44+207</loccode>
    code and Area code.
    clientid Unique client identifier <clientid>1234567890</clientid>
    provided by the client.
    devtype The device type used for <devtype>wifi</devtype>
    accessing the network.
    Possible modes are: wifi,
    gprs, isdn, dsl, cable, phs,
    ethernet, modem.
    phonenumber Full Phone number string <phonenumber>011+44+
    used for the connection. 207+12345678</phonenumber>
    The Phone number used
    for the connection in case
    of Analog, ISDN, PHS
    access modes shall be
    provided.
    overphone An alternate override <phonenumber>011+44+
    phone number that is 207+12345678</phonenumber>
    used as in for Analog,
    ISDN, PHS access modes.
    os Operating system on <os></os>
    which the client is
    installed.
  • Of the foregoing, one exemplary implementation implements only the following data in the INFO message, and leaves the remaining data for an event log: status, username, password, realm, error, provider, location, session, IP, MAC, bssid, linkspeed, rssi, hwvendor, driverversion, hostname, eventhistory, clientid, and clientversion. In some implementations, it may be desirable not to populate one or more of the foregoing data fields in the INFO message.
    TABLE 2
    Supported Status attributes. (See Table 1: INFO message
    <status> parameter).
    Status Name Description XML Syntax
    connected Client is connected to a <status>connected</status>
    wireless network.
    loggedin Client has successfully <status>loggedin</status>
    performed Login
    operations using Login
    API.
    loginfailed Client has attempted <status>loginfailed</status>
    Login operations, but the
    login has failed due to an
    error or some other
    known or unknown
    problems.
    loggedout Client has successfully <status>loggedout</status>
    performed Logout
    operations using Login
    API.
    logoutfailed Client has attempted <status>logoutfailed</status>
    Logout operations, but
    the logout has failed due
    to an error or some other
    known or unknown
    problems.
    disconnecting Client has logged off and <status>disconnecting
    is about to physically </status>
    disconnect from the
    network. This status will
    only be applicable in
    instances where the client
    still has network
    visibility although
    not authenticated.
  • The form of the SPI Server “ACTION” messages is described above. An example of the actions which the SPI server may instruct the client to execute is shown in Table 3, below:
    TABLE 3
    ACTIONS
    Name Parameters XML Syntax Example
    launchMiniBrowser Url width <action name=”launchMiniBrowser”>
    height <parameter name=”url”
    status type=”single”>
    statusnote <value>https://www.someurl.com</
    value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”width”
    type=”single”>
    <value>320</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”height”
    type=”single”>
    <value>240</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”status”
    type=”single”>
    <value>Please wait for page to
    load</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”statusnote”
    type=”single”>
    <value>It may take up to 45 seconds
    to load page<value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    closeMiniBrowser <action name=”closeMiniBrowser”/>
    login attempts <action name=”login”>
    <parameter name=”attempts
    type=”single”>
    <value>3</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    logout <action name=”logout”/>
    setUserInfo username <action name=”setUserInfo”>
    accountURL <parameter name=”username”
    type=”single”>
    <value>johndoe</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”accountURL”
    type=”single”>
    <value>htt//accounts.mc.com?id=johndoe
    </value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    promptPassword username <action name=”promptPassword”>
    <parameter name=”username”
    type=”single”>
    <value>johndoe</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    showDialog message <action name=”showDialog”>
    width <parameter name=”message”
    height type=”single”>
    <value>CarrierXYZ
    Message...</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”width”
    type=”single”>
    <value>250</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”height”
    type=”single”>
    <value>350</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    LaunchDefaultBrowser url <action
    name=”launchDefaultBrowser”>
    <parameter name=”url”
    type=”single”>
    <value>http://www.carrierXYZ.com
    </value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    sendInformation url <action name=”sendInformation”>
    method <parameter name=”url”
    parameter1 type=”single”>
    parameter2 <value>http://someurl.com</value>
    . </parameter>
    . <parameter name=”method”
    . type=”single”>
    parameterN <value>POST</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”username”
    type=”single”>
    <value>%username%</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=”returnURL”
    type=”single”>
    <value>http://wifi.qpass.com?id=johndoe
    </value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    connect <action name=”connect”/>
    disconnect <action name=”disconnect”/>
    sendStatusInfo <action name=”sendStatusInfo”/>
    setTimer sessionTime <action name=“setTimer”>
    <parameter name=“sessionTime”
    type=“single”>
    <value>85448</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    downloadFile forceOverwrite <action name=“downloadFile”>
    remote <parameter name=“forceOverwrite”
    local type=“single”>
    <value>yes</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=“remote”
    type=“single”>
    <value>http://www.pctel.com/mySkin
    .skx</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=“local”
    type=“single”>
    <value>foo.skx</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    loadSkin file <action name=“loadSkin”>
    <parameter name=“file”
    type=“single”>
    <value>foo.skx</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    licenseAdjustment adjustmentDays <action name=“licenseAdjustment”>
    adjustmentType <parameter
    name=“adjustmentDays”
    type=“single”>
    <value>10</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter
    name=“adjustmentType”
    type=“single”>
    <value>relative</value>
    </parameter>
    </action>
    showMessage message <action name=“showMessage”>
    url (optional) <parameter name=“message”
    browserType type=“single”>
    id <value>click here</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=“url”
    type=“single”>
    <value>http://www.pctel.com</value
    >
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=“browserType”
    type=“single”>
    <value>default</value>
    </parameter>
    <parameter name=“id”
    type=“single”>
    <value>ApiMessage</value>
    </parameter>
    </ACTION>
  • Various custom parameters can be used for management or authentication actions on the Roaming Client. Typically either of two methods can be used to update or manage attributes on the client. In a first approach, a CCS can push attribute values to the client when the client contacts the server for updates. It will be appreciated that, in the alternative, the CCS may simply cause a second server to push the values, or the CCS may be comprised of multiple servers. In at least some arrangements, WISPr authentication may be used.
  • In a second approach, the network provider can send custom HTTP headers to SPI-enabled devices, and the devices can parse the headers to identify the appropriate parameters. Examples of such includes login URL, location ID information, provider name, and so on. An example of a custom HTTP header is shown below:
    HTTP/1.0 404 UNAUTHORIZED
    Server: MC SSG/0.0.0 (Linux)
    Location: http://www.acme.come/index.htm
    MacAddr:AA-BB-CC-DD-EE-FF&IpAddr:192.168.11.1
    ...
    <!-Location-Name=AcmeWireless>
    <!-Location-ID=Location1>
    <!-error=0>
    <!-Login-URL=https://login1.AcmeWireless.com/Login>
    <HTML>
    ...
  • From the foregoing it can be appreciated that the present invention provides a powerful, flexible, scalable method and system for monitoring and maintaining wired and wireless networks, including providing metrics for meeting SLA requirements, QoS requirements, or other network parameters.
  • Although the present invention has been particularly described with reference to embodiments thereof, it should be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that various changes, modifications and substitutes are intended within the form and details thereof, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that in numerous instances some features of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features. Further, those skilled in the art will understand that variations can be made in the number and arrangement of components illustrated in the above figures. It is intended that the scope of the appended claims include such changes and modifications.

Claims (10)

1. A method of detecting and managing network performance, the method comprising the steps of:
initiating a communication session between a user device and a management server;
recording data at the user device related to the performance of the network; and
querying the user device for data related to the performance of the network.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the communication session is a wireless communication session based on an interface protocol.
3. The method of claim 1 further comprising the steps of:
transmitting data from the user device to an access point device, which in turn delivers the data to an authentication server; and
authenticating the user device based on the data provided.
4. The method of claim 3 wherein the step of transmitting comprises the steps of:
transmitting an address associated with the authentication server; and
querying the user device for identity information, which information is automatically provided by the user device in response to the query.
5. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of formatting the data from the user device for delivery to a central location for analysis in order to determine the performance of the network.
6. A system for monitoring the performance of a wireless network having a plurality of access points, the system comprising:
a plurality of clients, wherein each client is adapted to detect the presence of the network available at the access point and initiate a wireless communication session with one access point;
a central server in communication with each of the plurality of access points such that when each client is authenticated by the central server and logged onto the network and each client can be queried by the central server for information related to the performance of the network.
7. The system of claim 6 wherein each client and the central server include a service provider enablement component.
8. The system of claim 6 wherein each client includes a roaming client component that can be updated from the central server when the client is logged onto the network.
9. The system of claim 8 further comprising a configuration server for management of client features and policies as well as software updates that are pushed to any client during the communication session.
10. A method for evaluation of the performance of a wireless network comprising a plurality of access points each in communication with a network server, the method comprising the steps of:
initiating a wireless communication session between a user device and one access point of the plurality of access points;
determining if the user device is an authenticated user device;
redirecting the user device to an authentication server, such that the authentication server initiates an authentication process and requests information form the user device for authentication of the user device; and
querying the user device for data related to the performance of the network.
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