US 5717934 Sequential computer network shutdown system and process therefor

ABSTRACT – A user configurable, rule based sequencing of the shutdown of individual devices or the entire computer network is forwarded to a collection of software programmed microprocessors operating on the network. Every required device of the system is provided with shutdown software and a conventional UPS (known variously as an uninterruptable power supply, uninterruptable power system, uninterrupted power supply, and uninterrupted power system). A user interface program is used by a system administrator to configure the operation of the shutdown software. In the preferred embodiment, the network system includes, at a minimum, a file server coupled to a storage device containing a database, a database server, and at least one database work station, such as used for accounting purposes. Shutdown software and a UPS are coupled or otherwise associated with each of the file server, the database server, the work station and, when used, the network communication device. The user interface program establishes the configuration process. The shutdown software establishes the shutdown process. The configuration process is installed to configure the system and to establish rules or a system administrator’s plan. The software validates the rules for error and inconsistencies, such as may have been made by the administrator. If there are any errors and inconsistencies, the system administrator is so advised and corrections are recommended. If there are no errors or inconsistencies, the user interface program or software is permitted to communicate the system administrator’s plan to all shutdown software running on the individual devices. The shutdown process follows the rules in the configuration process.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a sequential computer network shutdown system and process therefor and, in particular, to a collection of software programs operating on a computer network and providing a user configurable, rule based sequencing of the shutdown of individual devices in the computer network.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

When shutting down a computer network, it is important that no portion or segment of the network be in a condition of instability at the time of shutdown, so as not to destroy or corrupt or otherwise deleteriously affect any data in the network, wherever it may be located. This requirement exists for all computer networks, whether a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a network encompassing an entire organization (enterprise), or a collection of networks (internet).

Regardless of its type, a conventional computer network includes two or more computers connected to a common data transmission line. As an option, network communication devices can be used as part of the common data transmission line.

Of the several problems that may arise when the network or any portion or part of it is shut down, that is, when the whole system or a subset of the system is to cease operation, the following situation is considered by many practitioners to be the most common. At the point of shutdown, data often is in transmission from one part of the network to another and, if care is not taken, the data may be lost or corrupted or be placed in an unpredictable form. For example, a database server may be transmitting portions of the data to a computer at a work station in response to a request at that work station, or that database server may be a work station of a file server and, on its part, be a server to other work stations. In this scenario, the database server requests the file server to obtain data from the storage device. The data is then transmitted to the database server for processing and subsequent transmission to the work station. The work station processes the received data, and the processed data is then returned to the database server for storage. The database server will then process the data and transmit it to the storage device by means of the file server. If shutdown occurs at any point prior to completion of this cycle, the data is often deleteriously affected and may no longer be in usable condition or, at least, usable with any degree of confidence.

Accordingly, upon shutdown and to avoid such deleterious changes in updating data or in transmission of data to or from any computer in the network, specific operations must occur in the following sequence. First, all work stations must be shut down. Second, the database server, prior to its shutdown, must complete that portion of the update to transmit the updated data to the file server. Third, the file server must store the data; only then can it be shut down. If these operations are followed in sequence, when the network is later powered up, all data will then be found to have remained in a predictable manner and can be used with confidence. Without such a sequential shutdown sequence, predictability cannot be assured, and no known system for sequential network shutdown has been devised until conception of the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention successfully addresses and overcomes this and other related problems by providing a user configurable, rule based sequencing of the shutdown of individual devices or the entire computer network. This sequencing is forwarded to a collection of software programmed microprocessors operating on the network.

To enable use of the present invention, every required device of the system is provided with shutdown software, as defined by the present invention, and a conventional UPS. The term “UPS” is an acronym which is variously used in the trade to mean uninterruptable power supply, uninterruptable power system, uninterrupted power supply, and uninterrupted power system. Because of this varied use in terminology, this power supply or system will be referred to hereinafter simply by its “UPS” acronym. A user interface program is used by a system administrator according to the principles of the present invention to configure the operation of the shutdown software.

More specifically, in the preferred embodiment of the present invention, its network system includes, at a minimum, a file server coupled to a storage device containing a database, a database server, and at least one database work station, such as used for accounting purposes. Shutdown software and a UPS are coupled or otherwise associated with each of the file server, the database server, the work station and, when used, the network communication device.

The user interface program establishes the configuration process. The shutdown software establishes the shutdown process. The configuration process is installed to configure the system and to establish rules or a system administrator’s plan. The software validates the rules for error and inconsistencies, such as may have been made by the administrator. If there are any errors and inconsistencies, the system administrator is so advised and corrections are recommended. If there are no errors or inconsistencies, the user interface program or software is permitted to communicate the system administrator’s plan to all shutdown software running on the individual devices. The shutdown process follows the rules in the configuration process.

More specifically, when the user interface program is run, several tasks are performed.

First, the system is configured (a) to specify the order of shutdown and (b) the timing that shutdown is to take effect. As a shutdown plan, the system administrator devises this plan as configuration software for any reason of shutdown, e.g., in the event of a power failure or a manual shutdown or a schedule of times when the system is to be turned off, such as during a weekend. The configuration is rule based, that is, it is implemented to set up rules, depending upon the shutdown situation envisioned. These rules are designed to afford the system administrator the flexibility to set up his or her own rules but, on the other hand, the software is sufficiently intelligent to alert the system administrator if the proposed rules or configuration will not become, or create a problem in itself.

Second, a manual shutdown is set up and used on an ad hoc basis should the system administrator wish to bring the system down. This operation follows the rules established by the configuration. When the manual shutdown occurs, the following options are made available: (a) the system is shut down indefinitely until manually rebooted, that is, physically turned off and then turned on; (b) the system is shut down for a specified period of time after which it is powered up; and (c) the system is rebooted. In any of these situations, a UPS must be attached to each device in order that the shutdown instructions be properly performed.

Several advantages are derived from this arrangement. A sequential order of shutdown is established. Predictability in shutdown is assured. Deleterious changes in updating the database or in transmission of data to or from the work station are avoided during shutdown, whether through power failure or manual shutdown or timed schedules when the system is to be turned off.

Other aims and advantages, as well as a more complete understanding of the present invention, will appear from the following explanation of an exemplary embodiment and the accompanying drawings thereof.

 

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