WO2013058764A1 - Network design system - Google Patents

Network design system

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Publication number
WO2013058764A1
WO2013058764A1 PCT/US2011/057251 US2011057251W WO2013058764A1 WO 2013058764 A1 WO2013058764 A1 WO 2013058764A1 US 2011057251 W US2011057251 W US 2011057251W WO 2013058764 A1 WO2013058764 A1 WO 2013058764A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
network
user
components
design
component
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2011/057251
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Alan Davis
Original Assignee
Iomnis Surveillance Solution
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/14Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks involving network analysis or design, e.g. simulation, network model or planning
    • H04L41/145Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks involving network analysis or design, e.g. simulation, network model or planning involving simulating, designing, planning or modelling of a network

Abstract

A network design apparatus provides data for presenting graphical images of network components that can be selected for including in a contemplated network design. Users can drag and drop network components into a rack-based system, for example. A graphical image of the rack-based system is updated with graphical images of network components. Cumulative performance statistics are determined for network components included in a contemplated network system. Network racks or other such components can be linked together for determining cumulative requirements. The components database stores available network components that can be presented to a user graphically based on compatibility with previously selected components. Components can be arranged by manufacturer, performance specification, and the like. Components databases include specification sheets and other data for stored components. Customized components can be resized, renamed, and include graphical images of varying colors.

Description

NETWORK DESIGN SYSTEM

BACKGROUND

[0001] The present disclosure relates to systems and methods for designing networks and specifying network components.

RELATED ART DESCRIPTIONS

[0002] Network engineers manually specify network components for network systems. For example, a network engineer may manually configure a rack based video surveillance system including all of the peripherals, servers, power supplies, and other necessary equipment. The network engineer must manually consider network components for inclusion in the system based on the power requirements, weight, size, and performance factors of the individual network system components. In addition, the network engineer may have to manually draw the rack based network system to obtain a visual representation of the system.

BRIEF DRAWING DESCRIPTIONS

[0003] FIG. 1 REPRESENTS aspects of an embodied network design apparatus for specifying network components using a graphical interface that includes drag-and-drop functionality and presents graphical representations of contemplated network systems;

[0004] FIG. 2 depicts subcomponents (e.g., a components database and rack project storage) for the memory of the network design apparatus from FIG. 1 ;

[0005] FIG. 3 depicts aspects of a disclosed method for specifying network components using a graphical interface that includes drag-and-drop functionality and provides the user graphical representations of contemplated network systems;

[0006] FIG. 4 depicts elements of a screenshot from a graphical user interface for an embodied network design apparatus including a design panel with a graphical representation of the contemplated network system and a menu panel with component pages that include components that are compatible with the contemplated network system;

[0007] FIG. 5 depicts elements of an additional screenshot from a graphical user interface for an embodied network design apparatus with the design panel and menu panel from FIG. 4 having network components that have been dragged and dropped into a graphical representation of the contemplated network system;

[0008] FIG. 6 depicts elements of an additional screenshot from a graphical user interface for an embodied network design apparatus with a design panel shown resized compared to FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, with a specification panel having cumulative requirements and performance aspects for components in the contemplated network system;

[0009] FIG. 7 depicts elements of a further screenshot of a graphical user interface of an embodied network design system with a resized version of the design panel from FIG. 4-6, a resized version of the menu panel from FIG. 4-5, a peripherals panel, and a specifications panel;

[0010] FIG. 8 depicts elements of an additional screenshot of a graphical user interface of an embodied network design system having a menu panel with a tool page that provides functions for designing network systems, an output page for providing output files with data for a contemplated network system, and a cart page for providing a virtual shopping cart to pay for the contemplated network system; and

[0011] FIG. 9 depicts elements of an additional screenshot of a graphical user interface of an embodied network design system with a graphical representation of the contemplated network system within a design panel, with the output page from FIG. 8 readily accessible for generating output files associated with the contemplated network system, and with a stored projects panel displayed for user selection of projects.

SUMMARY OF DISCLOSED EMBODIMENTS

[0012] An exemplary embodiment is a method for designing a network system. The method includes presenting a graphical representation of a contemplated network system (e.g., a network rack). The method further includes receiving information indicative of a user input (e.g., a mouse click with the mouse positioned over a desired network component on a graphical user interface) to select a first network component for the contemplated network system. In the method a graphical representation of the contemplated network system is updated with a graphical representation of the first network component. A graphical representation of a second network component is presented to the user. The second network component is selected for presentation to the user based on a compatibility factor between the first network component and the second network component. [0013] Another exemplary embodiment is a network design apparatus that includes a processor, an interface, and a memory. The memory includes a plurality of instructions including instructions for a design center. The design center includes instructions for providing a plurality of selectable graphical images corresponding to network components. If a user selects a first graphical image of a first network component, a graphical representation of a

contemplated network system is updated to include the first graphical image of the first network component. The network design apparatus further includes a quote generator for providing the user a cost for the contemplated network system including the first network component. The network design apparatus also includes an output generator for outputting an electronic file representing the contemplated network system including the first network component. In some embodiments, the design center is further enabled for receiving user selections of a second network component that is selected by the design center for presentation to the user based on the a second network component's compatibility with the first network component.

[0014] In some embodiments, the network design apparatus includes a user interface generator for electronically serving data used for the graphical representation of the second network component. The component and other components are presented to the user as selectable items that can be selected by the user dragging and dropping the selectable items into a graphical representation of the contemplated network system. The design center can be network based and serve images to a web client, for example, or other client application (i.e., application stored on a remote user computer or device) that presents the graphical images to a user of the network design apparatus. Embodied network design apparatuses and systems can be used to design systems that have both rack-based components and related peripherals.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0015] FIG. 1 illustrates network design apparatus 100 which may be embodied in a data processing system accessed over the Internet or other network. As shown, network design apparatus 100 includes memory 121 which may be computer readable media on which computer instructions are stored and accessed through bus 119. Processor 148 accesses memory 121 over bus 119. Interface 152 is communicatively coupled through bus 119 to processor 148 and memory 121. Interface 152 provides access to networks that may include a portion of the Internet. Network design apparatus 100 may perform an Internet-based service (e.g., web-based service) or portal-based service that provides users (e.g., network engineers) the ability to design and specify network systems (e.g., rack-based systems). Specifically, network design apparatus 100 provides options to users and permits users to specify network components for network systems based on performance parameters provided by users.

[0016] As shown, network design apparatus 100 includes design center 139. Design center 139 includes computer instructions performed by processor 148 for designing network systems. For example, design center 139 enables functionality in network design apparatus 100 for automatically specifying compatible components of a rack-based network system such as a surveillance system. In this instance, the rack-based network system is a "contemplated" system as it is being designed and may include components such as servers, mounting shelves, encoders, fiber trays, storage, switches, uninterruptible power supplies, patch panels, and the like. Design center 139 works with user interface module 101 to provide (e.g., serve images over a network) a user with a graphics-based environment for designing the contemplated network system. User interface module 101 includes instructions performed by processor 148 for providing a graphical user interface. This includes data for the graphical user interface being sent through interface 152 and providing the user with options for selecting network components for the contemplated network system. For example, the graphical user interface may include selectable icons or selectable photographs of servers, mounting shelves, and encoders. A user may enter necessary parameters (e.g. , speed, weight, or manufacturer) for required network components, and design center 139 accesses components database 1 1 1 to retrieve component information to present the user with compatible network elements (e.g., servers, patch panels, and the like) that meet the user-defined parameters and other required or inferred parameters (e.g., electrical codes).

[0017] In some embodiments, design center 139 (FIG. 1) and associated modules provide functionality for a user to drag and drop network components into a graphical representation of a contemplated network system. For example, design center 139 may be used for designing a rack, and design center 139, functioning with user interface/portal interface 101 , presents the user with selectable representations of components compatible with the user's contemplated rack. Servers, storage, switches, patch panels, mounting shelves, encoders, fiber trays, and other components can be displayed in menus (e.g., menu panels) and submenus that include text-based or graphics- based representations of the components. Design center 139 accesses the components and associated graphical images from components database 1 1 1. Once selected by the user, design center 139 can provide detailed project information such as amps, watts, weight, amps per outlet, quantity of outlets required, outlet elevation, and heat output to a user in specification panels within the graphical user interface. Also within the specification panels, design center 139 may provide a user selectable representation of a report which summarizes the various performance aspects related to the contemplated network system. Design center 139, and associated interfaces, also provide menus for generating output reports in the form of graphics files, spreadsheet files, or editable CAD files.

[0018] Design center 139 may be used for designing a rack-based network system, and in such cases, design center 139 provides a menu panel with lists of products or graphics-based pages of products that can be dragged onto a virtual rack (i.e., a graphical representation of the rack-based network system). The user can populate the rack enclosure by dragging and dropping compatible products from a menu page of products displayed in the graphical user interface. Once the enclosure is populated, the user can perform various functions including: adding additional rack enclosures, copying rack enclosures, deleting rack enclosures, moving components between rack enclosures, opening multiple projects at one time, and drawing custom components for the rack. Custom components for a rack may be any component not otherwise provided through the design center 139, such as equipment (e.g., routers, spacers, etc.) from a third-party source. Regarding custom products, users can save information to components database 111 or other storage. Such custom component information includes without limitation: the name; model number; SPI rating; storage size; power cord quantity; system power in watts; total weight; total amps; and a custom label. Design center 139 also provides a color palette for users to change the color of customized components. All of the information for custom products can be stored in components database 111 and used by design center 139 and optimizer 143 when selecting a compatible or a compliant network component.

[0019] The graphical user interface presented by design center 139 and user interface module 101 allows access 2D or 3D graphical depictions of contemplated network systems. A color palette feature allows users to change color of customized components. The graphical user interface also includes a search tab, magnification tab, and a calculation component. The calculation component, for example, calculates total amps, total required AC wall outlets, total amps per outlet, and other aspects or requirements of the contemplated network system. Design center 139 also provides a notes section for users to provide notes related to components or contemplated systems, and notes may be saved. A search tab provides users the ability to search for network components for a contemplated system by name, manufacturer, feature, performance criteria, or other search criteria. Design center 139 provides for storage to a portal, website, local drive, or networked drive. For example, information can be stored to storage 1 16 during the design of a contemplated network system and include total power in watts, total amps, total enclosure weight, total heat output, required SPI rating for the project, total SPI, and total storage needed. Total requirements and parameters can be calculated by cumulative requirements calculator 1 17, based on individual requirements and parameters of selected network

components, and on user-specified criteria. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) run times may also be stored (as calculated by design center 139), based on total power requirements for a project.

[0020] Once a user has completed design of a contemplated network system, design center 139 provides functionality for saving the contemplated network system to storage 1 16. Specifically, the contemplated network system is stored as a rack project in rack project storage 137. In some embodied systems, design center 139 provides for duplicating rack projects as new rack projects.

[0021] In addition to duplicating and editing projects, design center 139 provides functionality or accesses functionality (e.g., from other applications) for exporting project information and data to CAD programs, word processors, spreadsheets, and so on. For example, design center 139 provides functionality for exporting a project as a .Design file according to proprietary Iomnis™ or analogous protocols. Design center 139 also permits users to import projects for manipulation or for storage to rack project storage 137.

[0022] Once a rack project is stored in rack project storage 137, design center 139 provides the user with options for requesting a quote or exporting the rack project. The project file can be exported as a graphics file, spreadsheet, or a modifiable CAD file. Rack projects exported to spreadsheet documents may include pictures, pricing, performance characteristics, and other aspects related to particular components used in the contemplated network system (e.g., rack project) designed by network design apparatus 100.

[0023] While contemplated network systems are being designed, the incomplete design project can be stored in design center storage 141. Once the network system design is finalized, the project may be stored in rack project storage 137. Optimizer 143 includes instructions performed by processor 148 for optimizing a network system design. Optimizer 143 in some embodiments uses performance criteria for specified components to determine the overall performance of a system. Optimizer 143 can estimate a performance aspect of a contemplated system based on established benchmarks such as processor speed for a server in a system.

Optimizer 143 suggests, for example, the contemplated system could be significantly improved (compared to a benchmark or percentile performance measurement), with the addition or subtraction of certain (e.g., slower) components. In embodiments used for the design of surveillance networks, optimizer 143 takes information provided by the user about his/her surveillance project and builds the customer solution design. For example, components are selected that meet user criteria, such as resolution quality, by selecting compliant components from components database 1 1 1.

[0024] Project fmalizer 145 includes instructions performed by processor 148 for finalizing a network system design. For example, project fmalizer 145 collects all the project information (e.g., from rack project storage 137), makes a complete bill of material, and assembles the information to be reviewed by the user. Project fmalizer 145 may include instructions for accessing output generator 104 and its sub parts (e.g., PDF generator 103), for generating output files related to "finalized" projects. Project fmalizer 145 may also include instructions for accessing quote generator 147 and cart generator 109. Quote generator 147 includes instructions for accessing pricing information for network components included in a contemplated network design or project. For example, if a server included in a contemplated network design costs $1000, and there are two such servers included in the contemplated network design, quote generator 147 adds $2000 to a quoted amount. Accordingly, quote generator 147 generates a quote, which may be stored to a rack project stored within rack projects storage 137.

Components database 1 1 1 may include pricing information that is accessed by quote generator 147 when generating a quote. In some instances, a particular user may have special pricing, and generator 147 may access custom customer pricing information stored within storage 1 16.

[0025] Cart generator 109 includes instructions performed by processor 148 for presenting a cost to the user and potentially accepting payment from the user for materials, shipping, and other costs. In practice, after a user designs a network system, the user may use cart generator 109 to receive a final cost that includes taxes, shipping, and so on. Cart generator 109 may present a user with options for expediting an order. For example, processing time may typically take six weeks, but cart generator 109 may provide a user with options for paying more to have the order processed in four weeks. Accordingly, cart generator 109 may provide options for a user receiving expedited shipping at an adjusted cost. Once a cart is generated with cart generator 109, the cart is stored in cart storage 123. Cart storage 123 may be accessed by a user through interface 152. A user may provide login credentials to network design apparatus 100 or an associated system (e.g., a portal, accessible with the help of user interface module 101) and be given access to cart storage 123. Cart storage 123 may respond to computer instructions to present a user with multiple carts that have been stored by the user during or after design sessions.

[0026] As shown, network design apparatus 100 includes cumulative requirements calculator 1 17. When a user designs a contemplated network system using network design apparatus 100, certain components (e.g., servers, fans, lights, uninterruptible power supplies or UPS's) have a cumulative effect on the network design. For example, a network system that includes a server that uses 300 W, a fan that uses 30 W, and lights that use 100 W, requires a power supply with at least 430 W of output. Accordingly, cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 includes instructions performed by processor 148 for determining such cumulative effects of components selected for a contemplated network design. Cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 may similarly calculate the cumulative effect that included network components have regarding weight, heat output, amperage, wattage, and the like. Cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 may work with design center 139 and optimizer 143 for presenting the user with options for designing a functional and reliable contemplated network system. In some instances, a user may select certain components for a network system that later in the design process prove to be inadequate based on the user's selection of subsequent components. For example, a user may initially select a power supply that is inadequate based on later, power-hungry selections by the user. In such cases, cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 works with design center 139 and optimizer 143 for notifying the user that the previously selected component (e.g., the power supply) is inadequate.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 1 , network design apparatus 100 includes output generator 104. Output generator 104 further includes PDF generator 103, .Design generator 105, DXF generator 107, and spreadsheet generator 149. PDF generator 103 generates electronic files that have a ".pd ' extension and include graphical images of a network system designed by network design apparatus 100. Files generated by PDF generator 103 are formatted and stored according to "portable document format" protocols or analogous protocols as they may be updated. PDF generator 103 may include code for accessing third-party PDF generators located external to memory 121.

[0028] Similarly, DXF generator 107 generates electronic files that have a ".dx ' extension and include graphical images of a network system designed by network design apparatus 100. Files generated by DXF generator 107 are formatted and stored according to ASCII drawing interchange protocols used by AutoCAD or other such graphical programs. DXF generator 107 may generate DXF files with embedded, editable objects such as network racks.

[0029] Similarly, .Design generator 105 generates electronic files that have a ".DESIGN" extension and include graphical images of a network system designed by network apparatus 100. Files generated by .Design generator 105 are formatted and stored according to Microsoft™ Expression Studio protocols, Iomnis™ proprietary protocols, or analogous protocols for use with compatible graphics and design software. Files generated by .Design generator 105 may be embedded with editable objects such as network racks and network rack components.

[0030] Spreadsheet generator 149 generates spreadsheet files such as those compatible with Microsoft™ Excel™. Such files may include a ".xls" file extension and be formatted and stored according to Microsoft™ Excel™ or analogous protocols. Spreadsheet generator 149 may also generate output files according to Microsoft Excel Open XML spreadsheet protocols that have a ".xlsx" file extension.

[0031] Electronic files generated by output generator 104 may be stored in design center storage 141 or rack project storage 137. Additionally, electronic files generated by output generator 104 may be sent over interface 152 to remote users of network design apparatus 100.

[0032] In FIG. 2, further aspects of memory 121 (FIG. 1) are depicted. As shown, memory 121 includes components database 111 and rack projects 137-1, 137-2, and 137-3. Rack project 137-1 includes aspects of a rack-based network system designed using network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1). Despite the label, rack project 137-1 could include peripherals and components and systems that are not rack-based. As shown, rack project 137-1 includes components 232. Components 232 may include identifiers for components included in a contemplated network system such as servers, switches, and patch panels that are part of rack project 137-1. Network components added to components 232 would be selected for a contemplated network system by a user with aid from network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1). Information within components 232 could be obtained from components database 1 1 1 (FIG. 1 and FIG. 2). In addition to identifiers stored within components 232, information regarding the availability of the components can be stored in availability storage 248 and pricing information for the components is stored within pricing storage 234. Specification storage 242 includes, for example, data regarding safety certification ratings (e.g., Underwriters Laboratories, or "UL") for components of rack project 137-1. In addition, rack project 137-1 includes other stored information related to the project including: amps 233, watts 235, weight 237, amps per outlet 239, number of outlets required 241 , outlet elevation 243, heat output 245, frames per second 247, resolution 249, days of storage 251 , compression type 253, percent of motion 255, video management system (VMS) requirements 257, operating system 259, wall plates 261 , and patch cables 263. Each such element includes stored information for components included in rack project 137-1 , and such stored information is related to the name (e.g., weight) of the standard element.

[0033] Components database 1 1 1 includes component identifiers and associated data used by optimizer 143 and design center 139 when selecting components, recommending components, determining the compatibility of components, and retrieving specifications for components for a contemplated network system. As shown, components database 1 1 1 includes servers 201 , mounting shelves 203, encoders 205, fiber trays 207, storage 209, switches 21 1 , UPS 213, patch panels 215, and PDU 217.

[0034] In addition, components database 1 1 1 includes user-defined components 219 through 225. Each of components 219 through 225 can be defined by users during the design process using design center 139. User-defined components 219 through 225 can include an identifier (e.g., "Component A" for user-defined component 219), a size of the component, a color of the component, and performance characteristics of the component. For example, for user-defined component 220, components database may store and identifier "Component B," "blue" as the color for representing the component within a contemplated network system displayed by user interface 101 (FIG. 1), and "2" as the number of rack spaces the user-defined component 220 should occupy in a display of a contemplated rack using the component. In addition, user- defined component 220 may include amps, wattage, weight, product function (e.g., server) and other performance characteristics. Components 220 may include stored a graphical image of the component for use with displayed systems that utilize the component. [0035] Design center 139 (FIG. 1) considers such information that is stored in components database 111 parameters when determining whether to offer the components as compatible with a contemplated system that is being designed by a user of network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1). Accordingly, design center 139 and optimizer 143 use information stored in components database 111 to determine whether to offer a component (based on compatibility of performance features, for example) in a menu panel when a user selects component 220 for use in a contemplated system. As shown in FIG. 2 component 220 is a user-defined component with an identifier "Component B," component 221 is a user-defined component with an identifier "Component C," component 222 is a user-defined component with an identifier "Component D," component 223 is a user-defined component with an identifier "Component E," component 224 is a user-defined component with an identifier "Component F," and component 225 is a user- defined component with an identifier "Component G." Each of components 219-225 have user modifiable identifiers that can be changed, for example from "Component A" to "Cooling Fan- Rack." In this way, embodied systems are customized by a user to offer a first selection of network components, and further to offer a second selection of network components that is modifiable and customizable by a user. Custom components can be added and deleted, and stored versions of the custom components include performance characteristics used by a cumulative requirements calculator (e.g., cumulative requirements calculator 117) to determine the overall load or contribution (e.g., cooling contribution) of the custom component. In addition, display information and specifications (e.g., specifications sheets, data sheets, user ratings, etc.) can be stored in the components database for custom components and other components (e.g., servers 201 in FIG. 2). Users may select the data sheets and other information for viewing.

[0036] FIG. 3 depicts aspects of an embodied method for designing a network system. The method can be performed by network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1) or other such systems.

Design center 139 (FIG. 1) in conjunction with user interface module 101 (FIG. 1) provides a graphical user interface that a user navigates to select components for a network system. Design center 139 (FIG. 1) and associated components (e.g., optimizer 143) provide users with compatible network components for adding to a contemplated network system. In some deployments, the method steps may be carried out by hardware in a distributed system (i.e., by equipment distributed across an enterprise or in separate locations). [0037] As shown in FIG. 3, block 302 relates to presenting a graphical user interface for designing a network system. Block 302 can be performed by processor 148 (FIG. 1) executing instructions within user interface module 101 (FIG. 1) for sending graphical user interface information over interface 152 (FIG. 1). The graphical user interface information may be sent by interface 152 over a network that includes a portion of the Internet. Accordingly, in some embodiments, block 302 for presenting the graphical user interface to the user, is performed centrally, for example by network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1), rather than by a web browser on a client's remote machine.

[0038] In some embodiments, the graphical user interface presented in block 302 includes selectable icons or text-based identifiers for selecting network components for a contemplated network. For example, a user is presented with options for selecting a rack for a contemplated network system. Various sizes of racks (e.g., 8U, 12U, 13U, 48U, etc.) can be presented to a user, with graphical representations of the various sizes of racks presented as part of a menu page on the graphical user interface. In addition to presenting the user with options for selecting the size of a rack, compatible server racks may also be organized by manufacturer or brand. If the user selects the rack, for example by clicking on it on the graphical user interface, or dragging and dropping it, a depiction of the rack is displayed on a design panel of the graphical user interface.

[0039] Block 304 relates to receiving user input to add network components to the rack selected in block 302. The graphical user interface (through execution of design center instructions) provides the user with options that are compatible with the selection from block 302. For example, if the user wishes to select an exhaust chimney or air manager, the graphical user interface provides the user on a menu panel, graphical representations of compatible exhaust chimneys and air managers that meet user specifications and required performance

characteristics. The graphical user interface may also present incompatible exhaust chimneys or air managers in a different format (e.g., grayed out or partially transparent) to inform the user that certain network components are available but not compatible with previous selections.

Accordingly, if the user selects for example, a rack-based cooling solution for a contemplated network system, the method in FIG. 3 includes receiving (block 304) user input to add the cooling solution to the contemplated network system. A graphical representation of the contemplated network system including the added network component (i.e., the rack-based cooling solution) is graphically represented (block 306) within the network system on a design panel in the graphical user interface.

[0040] As shown in block 308 (FIG. 3), the method includes accessing performance specifications of network components for the contemplated network system. Performance specifications of the network components selected for adding to the contemplated network system are accessed and compatible components are determined. For example, performance specifications stored in components database 1 1 1 (FIG. 1) are accessed by instructions of design center 139 (FIG. 1) and optimizer 143 (FIG. 1). If a user provides in block 304 (FIG. 3) input for selecting a server, and design center 139 (FIG. 1) determines the user should be presented with options for a power supply, block 308 (FIG. 3) includes accessing performance specifications for power supplies compatible with the selected server.

[0041] Block 310 (FIG. 3) relates to receiving performance requirements of network components included in a contemplated network system. In one embodiment, this optional method step provides a user with options for specifying performance requirements (e.g., speed) of network components before presenting the user with compliant network components. This may be carried out by optimizer 143 (FIG. 1) or design center 139 (FIG. 1) interviewing the user through the graphical user interface to determine requirements of potential network system components. For example, if the network system includes security cameras, a user may specify that 30 days of security surveillance footage should be provided by the contemplated network system. Accordingly, design center 139 (FIG. 1) or optimizer 143 (FIG. 1) provides the user with options that meet or exceed the performance requirements provided by the user in block 310 (FIG. 3).

[0042] Block 312 (FIG. 3) relates to determining cumulative requirements for the

contemplated network system. For example, cumulative power requirements for elements (e.g., servers, cooling products, etc.) selected in block 304 (FIG. 3) calculated by accessing expected loads stored in components database 1 1 1 and adding them together. If a 300 W server is selected and a 40 W fan is selected, at least a 340 W power supply is needed. This calculation is performed in block 312, and may be performed by cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 (FIG. 1). In some cases, the power factor of a component may be stored, and design center 139 may suggest components to improve power factor performance or otherwise to improve efficiency for a contemplated design. [0043] Block 314 relates to recommending further network components to meet the cumulative requirements. In the above example, a 400 W power supply may be recommended by design center 139 (FIG. 1) or optimizer 143 (FIG. 1) based on performance calculations by cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 (FIG. 1). Cumulative requirements calculator 1 17 may estimate the components likely to be added (e.g., based on systems previously designed) to a system and recommend components (e.g. power supplies) that exceed the cumulative requirements currently determined. Block 316 relates to presenting a graphical representation of further network components in the graphical representation of the network system. Accordingly, after a user is presented with recommended network components (e.g. , that meet the cumulative requirement and are compatible with the contemplated system), and the user selects (e.g., over interface 152 in FIG. 1) an additional network component, the selected component is presented (block 316) as part of the graphical user interface that depicts the contemplated network system. Again, these steps can be performed by network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1), including design center 139, optimizer 143, user interface 101 , and cumulative requirements calculator 1 17.

[0044] Disclosed systems may be used to design video surveillance systems that include one or more Internet protocol ("IP") cameras. IP cameras capture and send video footage over an IP network allowing users to view, record, store, and manage video surveillance images either locally or remotely over a network infrastructure. IP cameras may include functionality for panning, tilting, and zooming. IP cameras may also detect motion and provide audio

surveillance. IP cameras and associated equipment may be integrated with security alarms, automated alerts, and intelligent video analytics. IP cameras can be placed anywhere there is an IP network connection, which may include in any combination wired and wireless (e.g., 802.1 1) connections. A user may specify any of these performance aspects to network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1), and accordingly, design center 139 (FIG. 1) presents menu panels to a user with compatible components that meet the criteria.

[0045] Accordingly, disclosed embodiments (e.g., network design apparatus 100 in FIG. 1) may consider IP camera functionality when providing suggested network components for a contemplated network system. Design center 139 (FIG. 1) accesses components database 1 1 1 , which stores identifiers, functionality, pricing, and other parameters associated with IP cameras and other network components. Optimizer 143 and design center 139, together or separately, consider user-provided parameters, best practices, codes, compatibility, performance aspects of components, availability, and other such information stored in components database 111 or accessed over interface 152 to present users with suggested options.

[0046] When network design apparatus 100 (FIG. 1) selects compatible components, performance characteristics of the network server must match requirements of other system components. Demands placed on a network server may be affected by a number of variables including bandwidth requirements of system components, the desired frame rates for surveillance cameras, storage capacities of system components, and other options of system components (e.g. , surveillance software). When used for designing video surveillance systems, network design apparatus 100 matches servers with requirements of surveillance equipment (i.e., peripherals) such as cameras. Specifically, design center 139 (FIG. 1) and associated components of network design apparatus 100 may function for: selecting a camera configuration, determining a surveillance performance index ("SPI") for the camera configuration, selecting a server, determining an SPI for the server, comparing the SPI of the camera configuration with the SPI of the server, and choosing the selected server if the SPI of the server is equal to or exceeds the SPI of the camera configuration. An SPI can be calculated by accepted benchmarking methods or customized (e.g., proprietary) benchmarking techniques for "normalizing" performance criteria to compare important performance aspects between components. SPI may be based on framespeed, CPU speed, or other metrics.

[0047] In embodiments related to designing and specifying video surveillance systems (or "network surveillance systems"), SPI can be a numeric representation of streaming video, either in load or processing capability. Accordingly, SPI would be an intermediary between camera load requirements and the capabilities of servers used in the network surveillance systems. In one exemplary embodiment, SPI of a component may be defined as the number of 10 million pixels per second of an average Motion Joint Photographic Experts Group ("MJPEG") frame compression that can pass through the slowest subsystem of the component. As would be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, with the benefit of this disclosure, in another embodiment the SPI may be defined differently. However, as is apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, the system and methods disclosed herein remain applicable so long as the definition of the SPI value remains constant across the different system components. In this exemplary embodiment, the SPI value is defined in terms of the MJPEG because despite its large bandwidth, MJPEG is commonly used in the surveillance industry due to its ability to freeze frame on any frame within a stream with good clarity.

[0048] IP cameras and other components may use power over Ethernet technology. Such systems provide electric power over Ethernet cabling. Accordingly, components database 111 may include equipment (e.g. , IP cameras) that require power supplies for providing power over Ethernet. In addition, components database 111 may include equipment (e.g. , a focus tool) for viewing images provided by a video camera and making adjustments, (e.g., position and focus adjustments) to cameras included in network systems designed by embodied systems. Such focus tools may include power over Ethernet network interface controllers and, accordingly, provide power to IP cameras. In addition, the focus tools communicate with the cameras to receive captured images. The camera images are displayed on a screen, and such screens may be part of a network system designed by embodiments.

[0049] The figures are now used to depict aspects of graphical user interfaces presented to users during the design process. In FIG. 4, screenshot 400 is a portion of a graphical user interface for designing a network system. Cursor 407 is controlled by a user's movement of a mouse or other input device for providing user input to select network components that are added to rack 408. Rack 408 is a graphical representation of a network system (i.e., a rack and its peripherals) that is contemplated by a user. Cursor 407 can be used to drag components from menu panel 415 to design panel 413. The user can drag and drop components from menu panel 415 for inclusion in the contemplated network system.

[0050] As shown, menu panel 415 includes component pages 402-1, 402-2, and 402-3. The user may select any of the component pages to browse compatible components for rack 408. As shown, component page 402-1 includes cable management options for rack 408. Similarly, component page 402-2 includes further cable management options, specifically cable

management options manufactured by "Company XYZ." Component page 402-3 includes cable management solutions that are described as "Heavy Duty." In this way, component pages 402-1, 402-2, and 402-3 are arranged according to categories such as manufacturer, service duty (e.g., heavy duty), price, quality, and performance characteristics.

[0051] In FIG. 4, network component 401 is a graphical representation of a network component that can be selected for addition to the contemplated network system represented by rack 408. Network component 401, for the sake of simplicity, is shown as a two-dimensional (2D) graphical representation of a particular cable management solution. Embodied network design systems that implement elements such as network report 401 may allow resizing the graphical representation of network component 401. In some systems, network component 401 is a three-dimensional representation of a network component, and users can manipulate (e.g., spin) the three-dimensional representation to receive a more complete view of the physical aspects of the network element. When a user drags and drops a component such as a network component 401 to rack 408, network component 401 is scaled to provide a realistic graphical representation of the contemplated network system (i.e., rack 408).

[0052] Similar to network component 401, network component 403 is presented on component page 404-1. Component page 404-1 includes selectable graphical representations of network components, specifically shelf components, that a user can select for rack 408. The fixed shelf network components in component page 404-1 are updated to be compatible with rack 408 and any other selection previously made for rack 408 (e.g., network component 401). Embodied network design systems select components for inclusion within component page 404-1, or otherwise identify (e.g. , gray out, highlight, change the size of) certain network components as incompatible. As shown, component page 404-2 includes heavy-duty fixed shelf components. If the user wishes to browse heavy-duty fixed shelf network components, the user may move cursor 407 to a portion of component page 404-2 to select component page 404-2 to appear at the front of the graphical interface instead of component page 404-1. Likewise, component page 406-1 includes network component 405 which is a filler that can be included in rack 408. Similar to the other component pages in FIG. 4, a user can select component page 406-2 to view filler network components manufactured by "ABC Company."

[0053] Referring to FIG. 5, screenshot 500 includes design panel 413 with the same rack 408 as in FIG. 4. As shown, rack 408 has been populated with certain network components selected from menu panel 415 and associated component pages. Particularly, rack 408 includes cable management component 508, filler component 509, and filler component 511. Filler component 511 and filler component 509 were selected from component page 406-1. Cable management component 508 was selected from component page 402-1. Specifically, a user dragged and dropped network component 401 (i.e., a cable management component) from component panel 402-1 in menu panel 415 to design panel 413. The embodied network design system graphically placed the cable management component within rack 408 and an updated an electronic file (e.g., stored in design center storage 141 in FIG. 1) indicating inclusion of the cable management component in the contemplated network system.

[0054] As shown in screenshot 500 (FIG. 5), network component 403 is available for selection by the user from component page 404-1. Similarly, network component 405 is available for selection from component page 406-1. Fixed shelf 412, as shown, has been selected from component page 404-1 (particularly, network component 403 was selected). Screenshot 500 indicates a user dragging and dropping fixed shelf 412 with cursor 407 to rack 408. Once fixed shelf 412 is dropped anywhere within rack 408, the embodied network design system updates the graphical representation of rack 408 to include fixed shelf 412. Accordingly, an electronic file that includes an inventory of the contemplated network system represented by rack 408 is updated to include fixed shelf 412. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the user can drag and drop fixed shelf 412 to empty rack space 510 (i.e., between filler component 509 and filler component 511), which results in empty rack space 510 graphically being occupied by the fixed shelf.

[0055] Referring to FIG. 6, design panel 413 is shown in screenshot 600 and includes rack 408 and new rack 601. Embodied network design systems (e.g., network design apparatus 100 in FIG. 1) allow duplication of rack 408 as rack 601. In addition, through "linking," embodied systems permit combining rack 408 and rack 601 when determining cumulative requirements. For example, the total number of amps of all components within rack 408 and rack 601 can be calculated. As shown, cumulative requirements are shown in specification panel 610.

Requirement 602 includes cumulative parameters such as total amps, total outlets, amps per outlet, and other cumulative requirements of rack 601 and rack 408, because they are linked. Requirement 603 includes information such as the quantity of particular components (e.g., by model number) required for the contemplated system including rack 408 and rack 601. In some embodiments, requirement 603 may be used as a bill of materials for rack 601 and rack 408. Requirement 604 includes parameters for components (peripherals) associated with rack 601 and rack 408, but not included in the racks per se. For example, if rack 408 and rack 601 are part of a video surveillance network system, requirement 604 may include cumulative requirements for associated cameras. To that end, requirement 604 may include information used for a bill of materials for a contemplated video surveillance network system that employs rack 408 and rack 601. [0056] FIG. 7 includes screenshot 700 with another iteration of design panel 413. As in the other figures, design panel 413 includes aspects of a contemplated network system including rack 408. Menu panel 415 includes components page 701 which includes peripherals such as network component 702. As shown, cursor 707 has been placed by the user over component 702 for selection. If the user selects component 702 for inclusion in the contemplated system, the component appears in peripherals panel 703. As shown in peripherals panel 703, block 704 includes a description of the peripheral or a graphical representation of the peripheral. Block 705 includes the quantity of the peripheral to be included in the contemplated network system. Block 706 includes the cumulative pricing for the particular peripherals. Specification panel 708 includes text-based and/or graphical-based specifications for the components included in menu panel 415 or design panel 413.

[0057] FIG. 8 depicts screenshot 800 with design panel 413 and menu panel 802 which includes tools page 812, output page 815, and cart page 817. As shown, tool page 812 includes mouse tool 803, custom products tool 805, resizing tool 807, color tool 809, link relationship tool 811, and zoom tool 813. Zoom tool 813 permits zooming in and out of the graphical

representation of rack 408 in design panel 413. As shown, rack 408 appears larger (i.e., zoomed in) in FIG. 8 compared to other figures. Link relationship tool 811 permits the user to discover and change link relationships between network components such as rack 408 (FIG. 8) and other network components (e.g., rack 601 in FIG. 6). Linking allows the user to link two or more network systems (e.g., racks) together. Once linked, total resource requirements BTU output, and such factors are combined for cumulative requirements calculations.

[0058] Custom products tool 805 permits a user to draw custom network elements for rack 408, for example. In addition to drawing the custom network elements, the user can specify performance criteria such as SPI, amps, wattage, weights, and the like. Resizing tool 807 permits the user to resize custom products. Also, custom products can be stored in components database 111, and resizing custom products tool 807 changes the parameters for stored components for future uses of the resized network component. Color tool 809 permits the user to change the color of stored custom components and components shown in contemplated network systems such as rack 408.

[0059] FIG. 9 depicts screenshot 900 which illustrates further features of an embodied network design system. As shown, design panel 413 again includes rack 408, which is a contemplated network system under construction by a user employing an embodied network design system (e.g., network design apparatus 100 in FIG. 1) as disclosed herein. Menu panel 902 includes at the forefront output page 901. As shown, output page 901 includes the following components: generate PDF component 903; generate .Design component 905; generate DXF component 907; generate spreadsheet component 909, generate text document component 911; save project component 912; access technical specifications component 913; log into design portal component 915; and generate quote component 916. Each of the components is user selectable to provide functionality to a user as suggested by the names of the various components. For example, generate PDF component 903 causes the embodied network design system to invoke or access PDF generator instructions 103 (FIG. 1). Likewise, if the user selects generate .Design component 905, the embodied network design system causes processor 148 (FIG. 1) to execute or access .Design generator instructions 105 (FIG. 1). If the user selects generate DXF component 907, DXF generator 107 instructions (FIG. 1) are executed or accessed by processor 148 (FIG. 1). If the user selects generate spreadsheet component 909, spreadsheet generator instructions 149 are executed or accessed to provide a user with an electronic file with data related to a contemplated network system stored according to spreadsheet protocols and customs. Generate text document component 911 causes embodied network design systems to access technical specifications for network components (e.g. , servers) included in a contemplated system such as rack 408 (FIG. 9). An embodied network design system may receive the technical specifications over interface 152 (FIG. 1) from the Internet, from vendor sites, or other sources. In some embodiments, technical specifications are stored as part of components database 111 or rack project storage 137. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, rack project storage 137-1 includes components 232, pricing 234, amps 233, and so on.

[0060] In FIG. 9, for a contemplated network system that is a "rack project" even if no rack is included, save project component 912 can be used to store projects as part of rack project storage 137 (FIG. 1). Generate quote component 916 invokes quote generator instructions 147 (FIG. 1). Quote generator 147 instructions access pricing information for components included in the rack project and provide a user with a total price for providing the rack project (i.e., the contemplated network system). Log into design portal component 915 allows a user to log into an enterprise portal by providing login credentials. Log into design portal component 915 may invoke user interface/portal interface instructions 101 (FIG. 1). If the user is logged into a portal, the user may access stored information regarding network components (e.g. , stored in components database 1 1 1) and the user may store projects as part of rack project storage 137 (FIG. 1).

[0061] Panel 917 in FIG. 9 includes projects page 919. Projects page 919 provides the user a graphical representation of stored projects, that are stored in rack projects storage 137 (FIG. 1). As shown, project page 919 includes "Warehouse" project 921 , "XYZ Office" project 923, "Smith Residence" project 929 and others that are not depicted expressly (except by the dots in FIG. 9). Projects page 919 provides text-based identifiers for various stored projects, or projects page 919 may provide graphical based identifiers (not depicted) that identify a particular project.

[0062] Accordingly, disclosed embodiments are used to design network systems that may be rack-based, and may include peripherals related to video surveillance. The subject matter of the claims includes numerous other embodiments in addition to those expressly disclosed herein, and the claims are not meant to be limited to those embodiments detailed herein. Objects that embody the appended claims may be described herein as "exemplary." Such descriptions are meant to indicate examples of claim subject matter. The descriptions are not meant to necessarily suggest, by use of the term "exemplary," that one embodiment is better than another.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A method for designing a network system, the method comprising:
providing network system graphical data for graphically presenting a contemplated
network system that represents a portion of the network system;
receiving selection information indicative of a user selection of a first network
component for inclusion with the contemplated network system;
providing further network system graphical data for graphically presenting an updated contemplated network system that represents the contemplated network system and the first network component; and
providing a plurality of selections representing further network components that are
compatible with the first network component.
2. The method of claim 1, the method further comprising selecting the further network components for the plurality of selections based on a minimum required performance
specification.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the performance specification is a surveillance performance index ("SPI").
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the providing a plurality of selections representing further network components is based at least in part on video performance characteristics of the further network components.
5. The method of claim 1, the method further comprising updating a stored cart data set with data representing the first network component.
6. The method of claim 1, the method further comprising updating network system graphical data for graphically presenting the contemplated network system upon user selection of a portion of the plurality of selections representing further network components.
7. The method of claim 1 , wherein providing network rack graphical data is performed over an Internet connection.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the selection receiving information indicative of a user selection of a first network component includes receiving drag-and-drop data.
9. The method of claim 8, the method further comprising receiving drag-and-drop data representing user selection to remove the first network component from the contemplated network system.
10. The method of claim 8, wherein the received drag-and-drop data indicates a location for installing the first network component in the contemplated network system.
11. A network design apparatus, the network design apparatus comprising:
a processor;
an interface; and
a memory with a plurality of instructions stored thereupon, wherein the plurality of
instructions include instructions for:
a design center for providing to a user a plurality of selectable graphical images corresponding to rack-based network components, wherein user selection of a first graphical image of a first network component results in a displayed graphical representation of a contemplated network system including the first graphical image of the rack-based network component; a quote generator for providing the user a cost for the contemplated network system including the first network component; and an output generator for outputting an electronic file representing the contemplated network system including the first network component.
12. The network design apparatus of claim 11, wherein the design center is further for selecting a second network component that is selected based on its compatibility with the first network component.
13. The network design apparatus of claim 11, the network design apparatus further comprising a user interface generator for serving graphical data representing the of the second network component that is presented to the user as a selectable item that can be selected by the user dragging and dropping the selectable item into the displayed graphical representation of the contemplated network system.
14. The network design apparatus of claim 12 wherein the contemplated network system is a network rack, and wherein the second network component is a peripheral for the first rack-based network component.
15. The network design apparatus of claim 11, further comprising:
a storage for storing:
data for the contemplated network system;
cart data; and
a components database.
16. The network design apparatus of claim 11, further comprising:
a storage for storing a components database including data for components selected from:
servers;
mounting shelves;
encoders;
storage;
fiber trays;
switches;
uninterruptable power supplies; and
patch panels.
17. The network design apparatus of claim 11, wherein the output generator is selected from: a spreadsheet generator;
a pdf generator; and
a CAD drawing generator.
18. The network design apparatus of claim 11 , wherein the memory further comprises instructions stored thereupon for a cumulative requirements calculator.
19. The network design apparatus of claim 11, wherein the memory further comprises instructions stored thereupon for a cart generator.
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