US 7313608 Method and apparatus for using documents written in a markup language to access and configure network elements

ABSTRACT – An XML accessible network device is capable of performing functions in response to an XML encoded request transmitted over a network. It includes a network data transfer service, coupled to a network, that is capable of receiving XML encoded requests from a client also connected to the network. An XML engine is capable of understanding and parsing the XML encoded requests according to a corresponding DTD. The XML engine further instantiates a service using parameters provided in the XML encoded request and launches the service for execution on the network device. A set of device APIs interacts with hardware and software on the network device for executing the requested service on the network device. If necessary, a response is further collected from the device and provided to the client in a response message.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to network device configuration and monitoring, and more particularly, to a method and apparatus for accessing, configuring and controlling a device stationed on a network using documents written in a markup language such as XML.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Computer networks continue to proliferate. As they do so, they become increasingly complex and difficult to manage. This problem is exacerbated when a variety of network devices, computers, and software are combined together to integrate large intranets with the Internet.

As shown in FIG. 1, when a client 100 wants to learn information regarding a remote network device 104 stationed on a network 102, code executing on client 100 formats a message requesting such information and sends it to the network device 104. Network device 104 must be preprogrammed with functionality for communicating in the protocol required by client 100‘s message and for knowing exactly how to get the information requested. If so, network device 104 can then respond with the requested information.

Simple network management protocol (SNMP) is one example of a network protocol that allows clients to learn information about remote network devices. SNMP allows network devices 104 to send alerts to a manager 102, or to send statistical information about traffic, but it limits the kind of information that can be sent to that which is pre-defined in the management information blocks (MIBs) coded into the network device. Accordingly, a new MIB needs to be redefined each time a new type of information is maintained or is needed about the device, thus making network management and performance even more problematic.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus and method for more efficiently accessing, configuring and controlling a network device using documents written in a markup language such as the Extensible Markup Language (XML).

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, an XML accessible network device is capable of performing functions in response to an XML encoded request transmitted over a network. It includes a network data transfer service, coupled to a network, that is capable of receiving XML encoded requests from a client also connected to the network. An XML engine is capable of understanding and parsing the XML encoded requests according to a corresponding document type definition (DTD). The XML engine further instantiates a service using parameters provided in the XML encoded request and launches the service for execution on the network device. A set of device APIs interacts with hardware and software on the network device for executing the requested service on the network device. If necessary or desired, a response is further collected from the device and provided to the client in a response message.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a method for causing a network device to locally perform a service comprises the steps of receiving at the network device a document written in accordance with a markup language and a corresponding document definition, parsing by the network device the received document in accordance with the corresponding document definition, and executing the service on the network device in accordance with the parsed document.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a network device for locally performing a service in response to a remote request comprises means for receiving at the network device a document written in accordance with a markup language and a corresponding document definition, means for parsing by the network device the received document in accordance with the corresponding document definition, and means for executing the service on the network device in accordance with the parsed document.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a network device for locally performing a service in accordance with a received document written in a document markup language comprises a parser that is adapted to parse the received document in accordance with a document definition to obtain an identifier of the service and a service launcher that is adapted to launch the service corresponding to the identifier parsed from the received document.

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