US20070160069A1 - Method and apparatus for peer-to-peer connection assistance - Google Patents

Method and apparatus for peer-to-peer connection assistance Download PDF

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US20070160069A1
US20070160069A1 US11330826 US33082606A US2007160069A1 US 20070160069 A1 US20070160069 A1 US 20070160069A1 US 11330826 US11330826 US 11330826 US 33082606 A US33082606 A US 33082606A US 2007160069 A1 US2007160069 A1 US 2007160069A1
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node
method
data
peer
connection
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David George
Raymond Jennings
Jason LaVoie
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International Business Machines Corp
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International Business Machines Corp
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/10Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network
    • H04L67/104Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network for peer-to-peer [P2P] networking; Functionalities or architectural details of P2P networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/10Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network
    • H04L67/104Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network for peer-to-peer [P2P] networking; Functionalities or architectural details of P2P networks
    • H04L67/1087Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network for peer-to-peer [P2P] networking; Functionalities or architectural details of P2P networks involving cross functional networking aspects
    • H04L67/1093Some peer nodes performing special functions
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/28Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications for the provision of proxy services, e.g. intermediate processing or storage in the network

Abstract

One embodiment of the present method and apparatus for assisting a peer-to-peer connection between a first node and a second node includes receiving, at a third node, a request for connection assistance from one of the first and second nodes. The third node then connects to both the first node and the second node, receives the data from the first node and delivers the data to the second node. In this manner, data may be transferred between the first and second nodes even if the first and second nodes are unable to directly connect to each other (e.g., due to permanent or temporary limitations).

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to computing networks and relates more particularly to facilitating data transfers between computing devices.
  • BACKGROUND
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a network 100 of nodes (e.g., computing devices) interacting in a peer-to-peer (P2P) manner. Generally, a requesting node 101 sends a search message 105 (e.g., containing keywords relating to data that the requesting node 101 wishes to locate) to one or more intermediate network nodes 111 connected to the requesting node 101. Each intermediate node 111 receives the search message 105 and then forwards the search message 105 to one or more additional nodes 111. Eventually, the search message 105 reaches one or more responding nodes 103 having the requested data. One or more responding nodes 103 then send a response message 107 back to the requesting node 101, e.g., via the intermediate nodes 111. The requesting node 101 then requests the relevant data from a responding node 103 by connecting directly to the responding node 103, e.g., via direct connection 109.
  • In some cases, the requesting node 101 and the responding node 103 may not be able to connect to or communicate with each other. This condition may be permanent (e.g., the requesting node 101 and the responding node 103 are each behind different firewalls), or it may only be temporary (e.g., a network outage occurring on a path between the requesting node 101 and the responding node 103). In either case, the requesting node 101 and the responding node 103 will be unable, at least immediately, to complete the desired data transfer. Although the requesting node 101 and the responding node 103 might be able to communicate via a series of other nodes 111, the necessary traversal of multiple network links makes this solution not optimal (e.g., due to multiple potential points of failure, response time, etc.).
  • Thus, there is a need in the art for a method and apparatus for peer-to-peer connection assistance.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • One embodiment of the present method and apparatus for assisting a peer-to-peer connection between a first node and a second node includes receiving, at a third node, a request for connection assistance from one of the first and second nodes. The third node then connects to both the first node and the second node, receives the data from the first node and delivers the data to the second node. In this manner, data may be transferred between the first and second nodes even if the first and second nodes are unable to directly connect to each other (e.g., due to permanent or temporary limitations).
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • So that the manner in which the above recited embodiments of the invention are attained and can be understood in detail, a more particular description of the invention, briefly summarized above, may be obtained by reference to the embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is to be noted, however, that the appended drawings illustrate only typical embodiments of this invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the invention may admit to other equally effective embodiments.
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a network of nodes interacting in a peer-to-peer manner;
  • FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method for facilitating a data transfer between two nodes that are unable to connect directly to each other;
  • FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method for assisting a data transfer between a first and a second network node, according to the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method for monitoring network traffic and/or data transfers to and from a node, according to one embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 5 is a high level block diagram of the connection assistance method that is implemented using a general purpose computing device.
  • To facilitate understanding, identical reference numerals have been used, where possible, to designate identical elements that are common to the figures.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • In one embodiment, the present invention is a method and apparatus for peer-to-peer connection assistance. Embodiments of the present invention enable data to be transferred between two nodes that are unable to connect directly (but are known to each other) by enabling the two nodes to use a partner node as an intermediary. The desired data is transferred to the partner node, which in turn delivers the data to the requesting node. In this manner, the desired data transfer can take place despite the inability of the transferring parties to connect directly.
  • FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method 200 for facilitating a data transfer between two nodes that are unable to connect directly to each other (e.g., due to both nodes being behind different firewalls, a severed network link or high bandwidth usage). The method 200 may be implemented at, for example, the requesting node 101 or the responding node 103 of FIG. 1.
  • The method 200 is initialized at step 202 and proceeds to step 204, where the method 200 sends a partner request message. That is, the method 200 solicits responses from other nodes in the network that can or will assist the node at which the method 200 is executing in accomplishing a desired data transfer with a second node. In one embodiment, the partner request message includes one or more details about the desired network connection (e.g., “would like to connect remotely to node X”).
  • In step 206, the method 200 receives at least one partner acknowledgement message from at least one other node in the network that can assist in the execution of the desired data transfer.
  • In step 208, the method 200 selects a partner node from the one or more nodes that responded to the partner request message with a partner acknowledgement message. In one embodiment, the selection of a partner node is based at least in part on how quickly a potential partner node responds (e.g., the first node to respond to the partner request message) and/or on the attributes (e.g., network speed, such as T1, cable, DSL or modem) of the potential partner node, if such attributes are supplied.
  • Once the partner node has been selected, the method 200 proceeds to step 210 and connects to the partner node (e.g., via a standard push connection if the node at which the method 200 is executing is behind a firewall). If the method 200 is unable to successfully connect to the selected partner node, the method 200 may select another of the nodes that responded with a partner acknowledgement message. In one embodiment, once the connection is established, the method 200 provides details regarding the desired network connection (e.g., “would like to connect remotely to node X”) to the partner node.
  • The method 200 then commences the desired data transfer via the partner node in step 212. Thus, if the method 200 is executing at a requesting node, the method 200 will receive the desired data from the partner node; if the method 200 is executing at a responding node, the method 200 will deliver the desired data to the partner node, which will in turn deliver the desired data to the requesting node.
  • In step 214, the method 200 determines whether the data transfer is complete. If the method 200 determines in step 214 that the data transfer is not complete, the method 200 returns to step 212 and continues to transfer the desired data.
  • Alternatively, if the method 200 determines in step 214 that the data transfer is complete, the method 200 proceeds to step 216 and disconnects from the partner node. The method 200 then terminates in step 218.
  • The method 200 thereby assists in the transfer of data between two nodes that are unable to connect directly by enabling the two nodes to use a partner node as an intermediary. The desired data is transferred to the partner node, which in turn delivers the data to the requesting node. In this manner, the desired data transfer can take place despite the inability of the transferring parties to connect directly. In addition, the use of an intermediary enables a user to monitor or control the data that is transferred to or from a given node. The present invention may therefore be further implemented, for example, to help parents monitor their children's file sharing activities.
  • FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method 300 for assisting a data transfer between a first and a second network node, according to the present invention. The method 300 may be implemented, for example, at a node that acts as a partner node in a data transfer between two nodes that are unable to connect directly.
  • The method 300 is initialized at step 302 and proceeds to step 304, where the method 300 receives a partner request message from the first node. As described above, the partner request message is a message from the first node that solicits the assistance of a partner node in executing a data transfer with another node. In one embodiment, the partner request message includes one or more details about the desired network connection (e.g., “would like to connect remotely to node X”).
  • In step 306, the method 300 sends a partner acknowledgement message to the first node, in response to the partner request message. The partner acknowledgement message indicates that the node at which the method 300 is executing can or will assist with the desired data transfer. In one embodiment, the method 300 chooses to respond to the partner request message with a partner acknowledgement message based on the availability of the node at which the method 300 is executing (e.g., central processing unit time, network bandwidth, etc.) and/or on a time to live (TTL) value specified in the partner request message (e.g., as the TTL value decreases, the probability increases that another node will respond to the partner request message). In another embodiment, the method 300 chooses to respond to the partner request message with a partner acknowledgement message based on a randomly generated number. In such an embodiment, the method 300 essentially “flips a coin” to determine whether to respond to the partner request message, although the distribution of possible responses is not necessarily 50/50 (respond/don't respond). For example, if the TTL value of the partner request message is high, the odds of the method 300 responding may be approximately equal to the odds of the method 300 not responding (e.g., 50/50). However, if the TTL value of the partner request message is low (e.g., one or two), the odds may be greater that the method 300 will respond (e.g., 90/10). In another embodiment (e.g., where the node at which the method 300 is executing has been configured to monitor the file sharing activities of the first node), the method 300 always sends a partner acknowledgement message in response to a partner request message from the first node. In such a situation, the node at which the method 300 is executing may have multiple active network connections on behalf of the first node.
  • In step 308, the method 300 connects to the first node, e.g., based on the first node making a selection of a partner node. The method 300 then connects to the second network node, e.g., the node that the first node wishes either to send data to or to receive data from. In one embodiment, the method 300 connects to the second node only after the first node has connected and provided details regarding the desired network connection (e.g., “would like to connect remotely to the second node”). In one embodiment, if one or both of the first and second nodes is behind a firewall, the method 300 connects to such nodes using a standard push connection.
  • In step 312, the method 300 receives data from one of the first node and the second node, whichever is the responding node for the desired data transfer.
  • Once the data has been received, the method 300 optionally proceeds to step 314 (illustrated in phantom) and determines whether the data includes any prohibited content (e.g., based on a keyword search). As discussed above, this enables the node at which the method 300 is executing to control the data that is delivered to or from the first node and/or the second node. Thus, step 314 may be executed by a parent monitoring the file sharing activities of his or her child, but may be skipped by users that wish to share data in an unsupervised fashion.
  • If the method 300 determines in optional step 314 that the data does contain prohibited content, the method 300 proceeds to step 316 and blocks the data transfer. That is, the method 300 will not deliver the data to the intended recipient (i.e., the first or the second node). In one embodiment, the threshold for assessing prohibited content is user-dependent (e.g., dependent on how strict the parent wants to make the filter). For example, the occurrence of one keyword may be sufficient grounds to block the data transfer. Alternatively, a threshold number of keywords (e.g., at least n keywords) may be required before the data transfer is blocked.
  • In one embodiment, data that is blocked in accordance with step 316 is deleted. In another embodiment, data that is blocked in accordance with step 316 is stored (e.g., to be reviewed by a parent).
  • The method 300 then proceeds to step 322 and disconnects from the first node and the second node. In step 324 (illustrated in phantom), the method 300 then optionally logs the attempted data transfer (e.g., stores a record of the attempted data transfer, for example in a database). In one embodiment, the log of the attempted data transfer includes at least one of: what was searched for (e.g., the text string), what was downloaded (e.g., the file name, file size, etc.), and what was returned (e.g., the search results). In one embodiment, a review of the search results can give an indication of how well the filter blocked prohibited content. Because slang words and variations on spellings evolve constantly, frequent review of the filter's results may be desirable. The method 300 then terminates in step 326.
  • Alternatively, if the method 300 determines in optional step 314 that the data received in step 312 does not contain prohibited content, the method 300 proceeds to step 318 and delivers the data to the other of the first node and the second node, whichever is the requesting node for the desired data transfer.
  • In step 320, the method 300 determines whether the data transfer is complete. If the method 300 determines that the data transfer is not complete, the method 300 returns to step 318 and continues the data transfer.
  • However, if the method 300 determines in step 320 that the data transfer is complete, the method 300 proceeds to step 322 and proceeds as described above to disconnect from the first and second nodes and optionally log the data transfer.
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method 400 for monitoring network traffic and/or data transfers to and from a node, according to one embodiment of the present invention. The method 400 may be implemented, for example, at a node controlled by a parent who wishes to monitor the file sharing activities of his or her child. In such an embodiment, the node operated by the child may be forced to connect to other nodes through the node operated by the parent, for example due to a network firewall that prohibits the node operated by the child from directly connecting to the P2P network. As discussed above, a parent-operated or monitoring node may be configured to monitor the transfer of data to and from a child-operated or monitored node. In further embodiments, the monitoring node may be configured to monitor all network traffic to and from the monitored node in addition to transferred data or files. In such a situation, the monitored node may maintain only a single connection to the monitoring node, which maintains multiple connections on behalf of the monitored node. In this manner, all traffic to and from the monitored node must first pass through the monitoring node.
  • The method 400 is initialized at step 402 and proceeds to step 404, where the method 400 receives a search message from a first (e.g., monitored) node. The first node may be operated, for example, by a child. The search message may contain a text string including keywords related to data that the first node wishes to retrieve from a network.
  • In step 406, the method 400 determines whether the search message contains prohibited content (e.g., based on the occurrence of one or more keywords in the search message). If the method 400 determines in step 406 that the search message does contain prohibited content, the method 400 proceeds to step 428 and blocks the search message (e.g., does not forward the search message). The method 400 then proceeds to optional step 424 (illustrated in phantom) and logs the attempted data transfer before terminating in step 426. If the attempted data transfer is not logged, the method 400 may simply delete the blocked search message.
  • Alternatively, if the method 400 determines in step 406 that the search message does not contain prohibited content, the method 400 proceeds to step 408 and forwards the search message through the network.
  • In step 410, the method 400 receives at least one response message from a second node, e.g., indicating that the second node has the data requested in the search message.
  • In step 412, the method 400 determines whether the response message contains any prohibited content (e.g., based on the occurrence of one or more keywords in the response message). If the method 400 determines in step 412 that the response message does contain prohibited content, the method 400 proceeds to step 430 and blocks the response message (e.g., does not forward the response message to the first node). The method 400 then proceeds to optional step 424 and logs the attempted data transfer before terminating in step 426.
  • Alternatively, if the method 400 determines in step 412 that the response message does not contain any prohibited content, the method 400 proceeds to step 414 and delivers the response message to the first node.
  • In step 416, the method 400 receives a request from the first node to retrieve data from the second node, e.g., in accordance with the response message. The method 400 then connects to the second node and retrieves the requested data in step 418.
  • In step 420, the method 400 determines whether the retrieved data contains any prohibited content (e.g., based on the occurrence of one or more keywords in the data, or the detection of a virus). In one embodiment, the method 400 determines the content of the retrieved data by first retrieving the entire file and then reviewing the data. In another embodiment, the method 400 reviews individual bytes of data as they are received. In yet another embodiment, the method 400 simply saves the data locally for later review.
  • If the method 400 determines in step 420 that the retrieved data does contain prohibited content, the method 400 proceeds to step 432 and blocks the data transfer (e.g., does not forward the retrieved data to the first node). The method 400 then proceeds to optional step 424 and logs the attempted data transfer before terminating in step 426.
  • However, if the method 400 determines in step 420 that the retrieved data does not contain prohibited content, the method 400 proceeds to step 422 and delivers the retrieved data to the first node, before optionally logging the data transfer in step 424 and terminating in step 426. In one embodiment, the method 400 delivers the entirety of the retrieved data (e.g., an entire file) to the first node. In another embodiment, the method 400 delivers individual bytes of the data to the first node as the bytes are retrieved and reviewed.
  • FIG. 5 is a high level block diagram of the connection assistance method that is implemented using a general purpose computing device 500. In one embodiment, a general purpose computing device 500 comprises a processor 502, a memory 504, a connection assistance module 505 and various input/output (I/O) devices 506 such as a display, a keyboard, a mouse, a modem, and the like. In one embodiment, at least one I/O device is a storage device (e.g., a disk drive, an optical disk drive, a floppy disk drive). It should be understood that the connection assistance module 505 can be implemented as a physical device or subsystem that is coupled to a processor through a communication channel.
  • Alternatively, the connection assistance module 505 can be represented by one or more software applications (or even a combination of software and hardware, e.g., using Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC)), where the software is loaded from a storage medium (e.g., I/O devices 506) and operated by the processor 502 in the memory 504 of the general purpose computing device 500. Thus, in one embodiment, the connection assistance module 505 for facilitating communications between two nodes in a peer-to-peer network described herein with reference to the preceding Figures can be stored on a computer readable medium or carrier (e.g., RAM, magnetic or optical drive or diskette, and the like).
  • Thus, the present invention represents a significant advancement in the field of data transfer networks. A method and apparatus are provided that enable data to be transferred between two nodes that are unable to connect directly by enabling the two nodes to use a partner node as an intermediary. The desired data is transferred to the partner node, which in turn delivers the data to the requesting node. In this manner, the desired data transfer can take place despite the inability of the transferring parties to connect directly. In addition, the use of an intermediary enables a user to monitor or control the data that is transferred to or from a given node. The present invention may therefore be further implemented, for example, to help parents monitor their children's file sharing activities.
  • While foregoing is directed to the preferred embodiment of the present invention, other and further embodiments of the invention may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof is determined by the claims that follow.

Claims (22)

  1. 1. A method for transferring data from a first node to a second node in a peer-to-peer network, said method comprising the steps of:
    receiving, at a third node in said peer-to-peer network, a request for connection assistance from one of said first node and said second node, at least one of said first node and said second node being known to the other of said first node and said second node, but said first node and said second node being unable to connect to each other directly;
    connecting to said first node;
    connecting to said second node;
    receiving, at said third node, said data from said first node; and
    delivering said data from said third node to said second node.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    sending an acknowledgement to said first node or said second node in response to said request for connection, said acknowledgement indicating that said third node is able to assist in a transfer of said data.
  3. 3. The method of claim 2, wherein said acknowledgement is sent based on at least one of: an availability of said third node, a value in a time to live field of said request for connection or a randomly generated number.
  4. 4. The method of claim 2, wherein said acknowledgement is always sent in response to a request for connection from at least one of said first node or said second node.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1, wherein said third node is configured for monitoring data transfers involving said at least one of said first node and said second node.
  6. 6. The method of claim 5, wherein said third node maintains at least one active network connection on behalf of said at least one of said first node or said second node.
  7. 7. The method of claim 1, wherein said request for connection includes one or more details relating to the desired data transfer.
  8. 8. The method of claim 1, wherein said one of said first node or said second node provides one or more details relating to said desired data transfer upon connecting to said third node.
  9. 9. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    logging said data transfer upon completion.
  10. 10. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    examining said data for prohibited content; and
    blocking a transfer of said data to said second node if said data contains prohibited content.
  11. 11. The method of claim 1, wherein said first node is behind a first network firewall and said second node is behind a second network firewall.
  12. 12. The method of claim 1, wherein a network outage exists on a path between said first node and said second node.
  13. 13. The method of claim 1, further comprising, prior to receiving said request for connection assistance:
    receiving, from said second node, a search request message;
    examining said search request message for the presence of prohibited content;
    forwarding said search request message through said network if said search request message does not contain prohibited content; and
    blocking said search request message if said search request message contains prohibited content.
  14. 14. The method of claim 13, further comprising:
    receiving, from said first node, a response message responding to said search request message;
    examining said response message for the presence of prohibited content;
    forwarding said response message to said second node if said response message does not contain prohibited content; and
    blocking said response message if said response message contains prohibited content.
  15. 15. The method of claim 1, wherein said first node and said second node are both known to each other.
  16. 16. A computer readable medium containing an executable program for transferring data from a first node to a second node in a peer-to-peer network, where the program performs the steps of:
    receiving, at a third node in said peer-to-peer network, a request for connection assistance from one of said first node and said second node, at least one of said first node and said second node being known to the other of said first node and said second node, but said first node and said second node being unable to connect to each other directly;
    connecting to said first node;
    connecting to said second node;
    receiving, at said third node, said data from said first node; and
    delivering said data from said third node to said second node.
  17. 17. The computer readable medium of claim 16, further comprising:
    sending an acknowledgement to said first node or said second node in response to said request for connection, said acknowledgement indicating that said third node is able to assist in a transfer of said data.
  18. 18. The computer readable medium of claim 16, wherein said third node is configured for monitoring data transfers involving said at least one of said first node or said second node.
  19. 19. The computer readable medium of claim 16, further comprising:
    logging said data transfer upon completion.
  20. 20. The computer readable medium of claim 16, further comprising:
    examining said data for prohibited content; and
    blocking a transfer of said data to said second node if said data contains prohibited content.
  21. 21. The computer readable medium of claim 16, wherein said first node and said second node are both known to each other.
  22. 22. Apparatus for transferring data from a first node to a second node in a peer-to-peer network, comprising:
    means for receiving, at a third node in said peer-to-peer network, a request for connection assistance from one of said first node and said second node, at least one of said first node and said second node being known to the other of said first node and said second node, but said first node and said second node being unable to connect to each other directly;
    means for connecting to said first node;
    means for connecting to said second node;
    means for receiving, at said third node, said data from said first node; and
    means for delivering said data from said third node to said second node.
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