6976054 Accessing low-level resources in a network device

ABSTRACT

A method and system provide access to information about a resource associated with a network device.

The method and system select a layer for communicating with the requested resource associated with the network device in a network protocol stack having multiple layers, establishes an inner layer socket for communicating at the selected layer using an internal layer application programming interface (IL API). A socket identifier associated with the requested resource, wherein the inner layer socket communicates using the selected layer and bypasses other layers in the network protocol stack, transmits the request for information about the resource through the inner layer socket and the socket identifier, receives the information about the resource in response to the transmission made through the internal layer socket, and passes the information about the resource through the inner layer socket to the application making the request.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to computer data networking and a method and system for accessing low-level resources in a network device.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Layered data communications protocols promote system interoperability, vendor portability, and simplicity in system integration.

Each protocol layer operates at a different abstraction layer and performs various types of data manipulation and formatting. Because each layer is concerned with events at its level of abstraction, other software designers can work together to design the protocols. Layers of the network protocol can also be replaced individually without significant communication incompatibilities problems arising.

The Internet Protocol (IP) stack or IP stack is a widely used layered communication protocol. Applications use the IP stack to transmit and receive data over various local and wide area networks. Typically, a transmitting application passes application data to a transport layer in the IP stack, which adds routing information to the data and passes the results to a data link layer. The data link layer also adds additional header information and passes the resulting information to a physical layer that is finally transmitted over the network.

A receiving application associated with a receiving IP stack receives and processes the information. Each layer of the receiving IP stack performs various communication functions and format conversions in reverse, going from the physical layer, the data link layer, the network layer, the transport layer, and then to the receiving application. In a conventional network, applications send and receive messages from each other and use the IP stack as a conduit for data. Notwithstanding these messages, additional information being transmitted between the sending and receiving IP stacks is not typically made available to either the sending or receiving applications.

While layered protocols such as those used in a conventional IP stack have some advantages, they are typically obtained by lowering programmatic flexibility. For example, application data is encapsulated with protocol-generated headers whose content cannot be accessed and controlled by the application itself. Applications are masked from the internal operation of a network protocol and network operation. This inflexibility makes it difficult for an application to send data encapsulated with a non-standard header when required or monitor the operation of the network.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the invention, a method and system provide access to information about a resource associated with a network device.

The method and system receive a request from an application for information about a resource associated with a network device, selects a layer in a network protocol stack having multiple layers for communicating with the requested resource associated with the network device, establishes an inner layer socket for communicating at the selected layer using an internal layer application programming interface (IL API) and a socket identifier associated with the requested resource, wherein the inner layer socket communicates using the selected layer and bypasses other layers in the network protocol stack, transmits the request for information about the resource through the internal layer socket and the socket identifier, receives the information about the resource in response to the transmission made through the inner layer socket, and passes the information about the resource through the internal layer socket to the application making the request.

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