6175868 Automatically configuring a network switch

ABSTRACT

A method and apparatus for automatically configuring a network switch having external network data ports, a processor, and memory.

Network data is monitored on the external network data port, and information about the network data traffic is compared to one or more threshold conditions. The network switch is automatically configured if the network data meets one of the threshold conditions. The monitor and configuration functions can be performed by software running on the processor, which has been downloaded from an external network maintenance station through a maintenance data port. The network data traffic can be uploaded to the external network maintenance station through a maintenance data port.

Method and apparatus for automatically configuring a network switch
Automatically configuring a network switch.

Automatically configuring a network switch.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Data communications networks – automatically configuring a network switch

This invention generally relates to data communications networks, particularly to a method and apparatus for automatically configuring a network switch.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Computer networks are used to interconnect many computing resources

Computer networks interconnect many computing resources, including computers, workstations, servers, printers, modems, and storage devices.

For example, two or more computers may be connected through a network. Network users can share files, printers, and other resources, send messages and run applications on remote computers. An essential part of any computer network includes the physical components or network communications devices used to interconnect the computing resources.

One network communications device used to interconnect multiple computing resources is a chassis-based system designed to accommodate several internal cards. The computing resources such as computers are coupled to the internal cards of the chassis-based system. Once the computers are connected to the internal cards, the computers are coupled to the network. To accommodate network growth, additional internal cards may be purchased and added to the chassis-based system. With the other internal cards installed, additional computing resources may be added to the network. A disadvantage of these chassis-based systems is a relatively significant initial investment when purchasing the chassis because of the large amount of overhead associated with chassis-based systems.

Expensive standalone network communications devices

An alternative to expensive chassis-based systems is the use of less costly standalone network communications devices or units that have a fixed number of ports for connecting computing resources or stations to the network. Such standalone network communications devices include stackable switches or the like. Although additional ports can not be added to each standalone unit, separate standalone units can be stacked, cascaded, or coupled to accommodate network growth. As a result, there is a lower startup cost when establishing a computer network with standalone units compared to chassis-based systems. Furthermore, network administrators still have the flexibility to increase the size of the network with the less expensive standalone units.

FIG. 1 illustrates multiple network communications devices 103105107109, and 111 coupled together to form a computer network 101. Numerous computing resources (not shown) are connected to each network communications device 103105107109, and 111. In one embodiment, network communications devices 103105107109, and 111 are stackable switches coupled together through bus 113. Bus 113 is used to tie together the switch network fabric of computer network 101. One of ordinary skill in the art noted that the utilization of bus 113 is an extension of the chassis-based designs discussed earlier. The internal cards of the chassis-based systems are commonly coupled to high-speed buses within the chassis-based systems.

Stackable switches

The use of stackable switches allows network administrators to build systems having multiple physical ports to various computing resources on the network. Different types of network use patterns may typically be handled most efficiently by different configurations of a network switch. Currently, a network administrator must manually monitor and analyze network traffic patterns and manually make any changes to the configuration of a network switch through an external network maintenance station (NMS). Although some network switches may have data gathering and reporting capabilities, a network administrator must still take a considerable amount of time to analyze the network traffic pattern and manually reconfigure the switch. Delays in rerouting network traffic are directly related to the time required to analyze network traffic and reconfigure a network switch by a network administrator.

Automatically monitor and configure a network switch

Therefore, there is a need for a way to automatically monitor and configure a network switch according to changes in network traffic. There is a further need to automatically configure a network switch that does not reduce data flow through the switch.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Automatically configuring a network switch having external network data ports, a processor, and memory.

The invention provides a method and apparatus for automatically configuring a network switch with external network data ports, a processor, and memory.

Network data is monitored on the external network data port, and information about the network data traffic is compared to one or more threshold conditions. The network switch is automatically configured if the network data meets one of the threshold conditions. The monitor and configuration functions can be performed by software running on the processor, which has been downloaded from an external network maintenance station through a maintenance data port. Information about the network data traffic can be uploaded to the external network maintenance station through a maintenance data port.

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