US 6816898 Interfacing external metrics into a performance management system

ABSTRACT -A method and apparatus for network management is described. In one embodiment, a method comprises collecting performance data having accompanying meta data including information defining the performance management data and information indicating operations to be performed on the performance management data, and generating output data for display using collected performance management data according to the information indicating the operations to be performed on the performance management data.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to the field of network management. More particularly, this invention pertains to the field of interfacing with network management.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Networks are used to interconnect multiple devices, such as computing devices, and allow the communication of information between the various interconnected devices. Many organizations rely on networks to communicate information between different individuals, departments, work groups, and geographic locations. In many organizations, a network is an important resource that must operate efficiently. For example, networks are used to communicate electronic mail (e-mail), share information between individuals, and provide access to shared resources, such as printers, servers, and databases. A network failure or inefficient operation may significantly affect the ability of certain individuals or groups to perform their required functions.

A typical network contains multiple interconnected devices, including computers, servers, printers, and various other network communication devices such as routers, bridges, switches, and hubs. The multiple devices in a network are interconnected with multiple communication links that allow the various network devices to communicate with one another. If a particular network device or network communication link fails, multiple devices, or the entire network, may be affected.

Network management is the process of managing the various network devices and network communication links to provide the necessary network services to the users of the network. Typical network management systems collect information regarding the operation and performance of the network and analyze the collected information to detect problems in the network. For example, a high network utilization or a high network response time may indicate that the network (or a particular device or link in the network) is approaching an overloaded condition. In an overloaded condition, network devices may be unable to communicate at a reasonable speed, thereby reducing the usefulness of the network. In this situation, it is important to identify the network problem and the source of the problem such that the proper network operation can be restored.

The operations performed by the network management system are often controlled via software on one or more computer systems. Typically, in the prior art, a determination is first made to determine what the application is and then software is created to control how to administer it, how to control it, how to configure it, and how to display it. The result is software that is very specific to the types of data that is being collected, stored, analyzed and displayed. Because of this, there is new code written for each application and stored for use in the system. As developing such software is time consuming and expensive, it would be advantageous to reduce the amount of software development in network management systems.

Furthermore, typical computer network management systems collecting data from components within a network, these network management systems usually collect typical infrastructure information only, such as server response time, and network parameters such as packets transmitted, packets lost, etc. They do not collect specific business-oriented data useful in commercial applications. In fact, management or business-oriented data is usually neglected by current network management system. For example, a typical network management system does not keep track of the number of tickets sold in an airline’s web site, even though the statistics on the number of tickets sold would be very useful to an airline using the network management system. In this situation, the company usually has its own network management staff to generate a script-based program to collect this particular piece of information, in addition to the data already collected by the system installed. Although the script-based program is relatively simple to generate, additional effort is required to integrate the customized data collected (e.g., the number of tickets sold in the airline’s web site) with the typical data collected by the network management system. Even more effort and time is required to analyze these different types of data in order to maintain the network and to troubleshoot.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a method comprises collecting performance data having accompanying meta data including information defining the performance management data and information indicating operations to be performed on the performance management data, and generating output data for display using collected performance management data according to the information indicating the operations to be performed on the performance management data.

 

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