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Title:
CENTRALIZED PUBLISHING OF NETWORK RESOURCES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/108450
Kind Code:
A3
Abstract:
Techniques for centralized publishing of network resources within computer networks are described. Publication of and access to the network resources are controlled from a single, centralized location, advantageously improving the uniformity of network administration responsibilities, and overall robustness of the network.

Inventors:
BEN-SHACHAR IDO (US)
ERDOGAN ERSEV SAMIM (US)
LONDON KEVIN SCOTT (US)
PARSONS JOHN E (US)
Application Number:
US2009/032593
Publication Date:
October 22, 2009
Filing Date:
January 30, 2009
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MICROSOFT CORPORATION (One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA, 98052-6399, US)
International Classes:
H04L12/28; H04L29/02
Foreign References:
US20070005595A12007-01-04
US20040167984A12004-08-26
Other References:
"TS Session Broker.", MICROSOFT TECHNET., 21 January 2008 (2008-01-21), Retrieved from the Internet
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A method, comprising: centrally maintaining an allow list 152 to control access to network resources 116; receiving an access query for access to a particular network resource 116; evaluating information in the access query against the centrally maintained allow list 152 to ascertain whether access privilege exists for the particular network resource 116; and if the access privilege is available, granting access to the particular network resource 116. if the access privilege is affirmative, granting access to the user to the network resource 116 on a specified one of the at least one resource host 114 without regard to other possible access lists within the computer network 100. 2. The method of claim 1, wherein centrally maintaining an allow list 152 includes centrally maintaining an allow list 152 in a centralized database 150 that is separate from the at least one resource host 114.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving an access query includes receiving an access query via a broker 120 configured to perform a load balancing determination between a plurality of resource hosts 114.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein granting access includes performing a load balancing determination between a plurality of resource hosts 114, and granting access to the network resource 116 on a specified one of the plurality of resource hosts 114 based on the load balancing determination. 5. The method of claim 1, wherein evaluating information in the access query against the centrally maintained allow list 152 to ascertain whether access privilege exists for the particular network resource 116 includes checking a data record that specifies an access privilege based on a user-group. 6. The method of claim 5, wherein granting access includes providing an identity of the specified resource host 114 from which to access the network

resource 116, and providing a protocol setting for communicating with the specified resource host 114.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein centrally maintaining an allow list 152 includes centrally maintaining an allow list 152 using an administration tool 140 operatively communicating with a centralized database 150 via a data server abstraction layer 406.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein using an administration tool 140 includes using an administration tool 140 operatively communicating with the centralized database 150 via a communication protocol layer 430 disposed between the data server abstraction layer 406 and the centralized database 150, the communication protocol layer 430 having a plurality of protocol providers that enable communications using a plurality of communication protocols.

9. The method of claim 1 , wherein receiving an access query includes receiving an access query via a data server abstraction layer 406. 10. The method of claim 9, wherein receiving an access query further includes receiving an access query via a communication protocol layer 430 having a plurality of protocol providers that enable communications using a plurality of communication protocols.

11. The method of claim 1 , wherein receiving an access query includes receiving a request to access the particular network resource 116 via a brokering component 120, the method further comprising identifying available network resources 116 to a requester via a communication portal other than the brokering component 120.

12. One or more computer-readable media containing instructions that, when executed by a computer, perform a method for publishing one or more network resources 116 in a computer network 100 having a plurality of resource hosts 114, the method comprising: enabling an allow list 152 to be maintained in a centralized database 150 operatively coupled to the plurality of resource hosts 114, the allow list 152 being configured to control access to the one or more network resources 116;

enabling an access query to be received from a requester requesting access to the one or more network resources 116; enabling an access privilege within the allow list 152 of the centralized database 150 to be determined for the requester; and if authorized, enabling access to be granted to the one or more network resources 116 on a specified resource host 114 without regard to other possible access lists within the computer network 100.

13. The computer-readable media of claim 12, wherein enabling an allow list 152 to be generated in a centralized database 150 includes enabling an allow list 152 to be generated in a centralized database 150 that is separate from the plurality of resource hosts 114.

14. The computer-readable media of claim 12, wherein enabling access to be granted includes enabling a load balancing determination to be performed between the plurality of resource hosts 114, and enabling access to be granted based at least partially on the load balancing determination.

15. The computer-readable media of claim 12, wherein enabling access to be granted includes enabling a specified one of the plurality of resource hosts 114 to be identified to the requester from which to access the one or more network resource 116, and enabling a protocol to be provided to the requester for communicating with the specified one of the plurality of resource hosts 114.

16. The computer-readable media of claim 12, wherein enabling an access query to be received includes enabling an access query to be received via a brokering component 120, the method further comprising enabling available network resources 116 to be identified to the requester via a communication portal other than the brokering component 120.

17. A method, comprising: publishing a plurality of network resources 116 available on a computer network 100 having a plurality of resource hosts 114; maintaining an access record in a centralized database 150, the centralized database 150 being distinct from the plurality of resource hosts 114;

receiving an access query from a requester for access to one or more of the network resources 116; determining an access privilege of the requester to access one or more network resources 116 using the access record in the centralized database 150 without regard to other possible information sources within the computer network 100; and either granting or denying access to the one or more network resources 116 based on the access privilege.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein publishing a plurality of network resources 116 includes publishing a plurality of applications to the requester via a portal, and wherein receiving an access query includes receiving an access query from the requester via a broker 120 that is distinct from the portal.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein either granting or denying access to the one or more network resources 116 based on the access privilege includes performing a load balancing determination between a plurality of terminal servers, and granting access to one of the plurality of applications on a specified one of the plurality of terminal servers based on the load balancing determination.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein either granting or denying access includes providing an identity of a specified one of the plurality of terminal servers on which to access the network resource 116, and providing a communication protocol setting for communicating with the specified one of the plurality of terminal servers.

Description:

CENTRALIZED PUBLISHING OF NETWORK RESOURCES

BACKGROUND

[0001] Terminal servers are typically special purpose computers that are used to connect a number of devices to one or more hosts or servers. Terminal servers may be particularly configured to facilitate communications between various components of a network. In some cases, terminal servers may be used to publish applications available on the hosts or servers to various other devices on the network. Networks having many devices may require groups of terminal servers (or "TS farms") to provide the required communication capability. [0002] In conventional networks having multiple terminal servers, the database of which applications are currently published is replicated on multiple servers, leading to potential fragility. Similarly, an "Allow List" (a list which defines privileges of the various network devices to access the applications available on the host) is stored at each terminal server within the network (or a TS farm). If the data in any of these multiple storage locations of a network gets out of sync, service to end- users may be degraded, and the problems encountered may be difficult to diagnose. When a new application is made available, each Allow List stored at each storage location in the network must be manually updated. In short, although desirable results have been achieved using conventional terminal server publishing systems, there is room for improvement.

SUMMARY

[0003] Techniques for centralized publishing of resources on a computer network are described. Both publication of and access to the network resources are controlled from a single, centralized location. This advantageously removes the dependency of who controls access to the network resources from the particular publishing technology, thereby improving the uniformity of network administration responsibilities, and may also improve the overall efficiency and robustness of network resource publishing activities. [0004] This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the

claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] The detailed description is described with reference to the accompanying figures. In the figures, the use of the same reference numbers in different figures indicates similar or identical items.

[0006] FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary network for implementing techniques for centralized publishing of network resources. The network includes a centralized database configured to communicate to one or more clients over a network. [0007] FIG. 2 is an exemplary record within the centralized database of FIG. 1. [0008] FIG. 3 is an exemplary data flow diagram for centralized publishing of network resources in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure. [0009] FIGS. 4 through 6 are exemplary networks for implementing techniques for centralized publishing of network resources in accordance with alternate embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0010] Techniques for centralized publishing of resources on a computer network are disclosed herein. Generally, a single, centralized capability administers publication and access control to network resources, without regard for the particular publishing technology used by the network. As used herein, the term "resources" includes applications, patches and upgrades, desktops, directories, documents, data, or any other suitable computer resources that may be installed and shared to multiple entities throughout a network environment. Thus, rather than having multiple publications and multiple allow lists throughout a network pertaining to network resources, the administration of network resources is centralized. Embodiments in accordance with the present disclosure may thereby improve the efficiency of resource administration activities, the consistency of network resource privileges, and the overall robustness of the computer network. [0011] FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary network 100 for implementing techniques for centralized publishing of network resources 116 in accordance with an

embodiment of the present disclosure. In this embodiment, the network 100 includes a client 110 that operatively communicates via a portal 112 with a central database 150 for discovery of network resources 116. The client 110 also communicates with a broker 120 coupled to the central database 150 for connecting to and accessing the network resources 116. An administration tool 140 also accesses the central database 150. In some embodiments, the central database 150 may be a Terminal Server (TS) assignment policy database, and the administration tool 140 may be a TS administration tool. The network 100 further includes one or more resource hosts 114 (e.g. servers, etc.) that host one or more network resources 116 that may be accessed or used by the client 110. The resource hosts 114 may include, for example, terminal servers, directories, directory services (e.g. Active Directory), centralized publishing sources, or any other suitable hosts or sources. [0012] It will be appreciated that various modules and techniques may be described herein in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, executed by one or more computers or other devices. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, and so forth for performing particular tasks or implementing particular abstract data types. These program modules and the like may be executed as native code or may be downloaded and executed, such as in a virtual machine or other just-in-time compilation execution environment. Typically, the functionality of the program modules may be combined or distributed as desired in various embodiments. An implementation of these modules and techniques may be stored on or transmitted across some form of computer readable media. [0013] Referring again to FIG. 1, the broker 120 may be configured to perform a variety of brokering activities associated with the network resources 116. For example, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the broker 120 includes a lookup component 126 configured to access the centralized database 150 to determine whether the client 110 is authorized to access one or more network resources 116. For network resources 116 that the client 110 is authorized to access, the broker 120 may determine a best available location within the network 100 for the client

110 to access or operate the available network resource 116. This may, for example, be based on load balancing activities, or any other suitable methods. [0014] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the centralized database 150 may be accessed in at least three ways. First, the administration tool 140 may be used to add, remove, or change access assignments of network resources within the network 100. In some embodiments, the access assignments may be established based on user-groups within the network 100 using records (e.g. an allow list 152) stored within the centralized database 150. The administration tool 140 may provide a general ability to create, delete, change, read, and write all records within the centralized database 150.

[0015] The administration tool 140 may be configured to allow a variety of different administrative functions to be performed on the network 400. For example, the administration tool 140 may permit network resources 116 to be installed on the resource hosts 114, and may specify which publishing databases are trusted to control the network resources 116 on the resource hosts 114, and may allow revision of the allow list 152. The administration tool 140 may also install the publishing role on the centralized database 150 (or other component of the network 100), may set up one or more locations or databases of network resources 116, and control which network resources are published from which resource hosts to which users (or user-groups), and specify any additional constraints on the access of such network resources 116. The administration tool 140 may also make a list of resource hosts 114 (or publishing databases) more (or less) discoverable throughout the network 100, including an ability to lock down the list of publishing databases if so desired. The administration tool 140 may also control the ability of the portal 112 to access a set of resource hosts 114 (or publishing databases), and determine the set of resource hosts 114 the client 110 will see available. [0016] A second way of accessing the central database 150 is via the portal 112, which permits access to the database 150 to query which network resources are available for a particular client 110. For example, in some embodiments, the portal 112 may be used to render a list of network resources (e.g. applications) to the client 110 that may be launched remotely by the client 110. More specifically, for

each network resource, the portal 112 may make Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) settings defined by the administration tool 140 available to the client 110, so that an end-user doesn't have to specify settings themselves. Such RDP settings may advantageously allow many settings to be controlled by a network administrator using the administration tool 140, such as, for example, whether the client 110 needs to turn on drive-redirection when accessing a particular Terminal Server. [0017] In some embodiments, the portal 112 may receive a user identity from the client 110, and may return to the client 110 a list of network resources 116 available for access. For each network resource 116, the portal 112 may provide, for example, a name of the network resource 116, an icon for display, a resource host 114 (e.g. Terminal Server) on which to access the network resource 116, and a communication protocol to use when accessing the network resource 116 (e.g. RDP). [0018] Third, the broker 120 may access the centralized database 150 to determine which portion of the network 100 (e.g. Terminal Server, etc.) is best suited to launch the network resource requested by the client 110. More specifically, the broker 120 may perform one or more of the brokering activities described above. In further embodiments, the broker 120 may perform one or more of the brokering activities described in previously-incorporated, commonly-owned U.S. Patent Application No. 11/771 ,921 entitled "Virtual Desktop Integration with Terminal Services," filed on June 29, 2007. For example, in some embodiments, the broker 120 may receive the identity of the user from the client 110, along with the identity of the network resource 116 that the user desires to access. In turn, after the broker 120 accesses the centralized database 150, the broker 120 may provide an identity of the resource host 114 upon which to access the network resource 116, and a specified communication protocol to use for accessing the network resource 116.

[0019] FIG. 2 is an exemplary record 200 within the centralized database 150 of FIG. 1 in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure. In this embodiment, the record 200 includes a user-group 202 associated with the record 200, and a resource name 204 corresponding to the network resource 216 available

on the network 100. The record 200 also includes an icon 206 associated with the network resource 116 that may be displayed on the client 110 to a user. An associated resource host 208 is identified for the users associated with the user- group 202 to use for accessing the network resource 116. The record 200 also includes protocol settings 210 for communicating with (e.g. sending to) the associated resource host 208, and also protocol settings 212 to enforce on the associated resource host 208.

[0020] FIG. 3 is an exemplary data flow diagram 300 for centralized publishing of network resources in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure. It should be appreciated that processes described herein, including the data flow diagram 300, are intended to provide possible implementations of the present disclosure, and that the present disclosure is not limited to the particular implementations described herein and shown in the accompanying figures. For example, in alternate implementations, certain acts need not be performed in the order described, and may be modified, and/or may be omitted entirely, depending on the circumstances. Moreover, in various implementations, the acts described may be implemented by a computer, controller, processor, programmable device, or any other suitable device, and may be based on instructions stored on one or more computer-readable media or otherwise stored or programmed into such devices. In the event that computer-readable media are used, the computer-readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by a device to implement the instructions stored thereon.

[0021] For convenience, the data flow diagram 300 will be described with reference to the exemplary network 100 of FIG. 1. In this embodiment, at 302, one or more components of the network 100 expose a list of installed network resources 116 to the client 110. In some embodiments, the list of installed network resources 116 may be exposed by a TS server as "tokens" (e.g. "application tokens") to the client 110. [0022] At 304, the centralized database 150 is configured to make one or more of the installed network resources 116 available to the client 110. For example, an administrator may use the administration tool 140 to configure the centralized

database 150 to make certain network resources 116 available (or unavailable) to the client 110. In some embodiments, the network resources 116 (e.g. applications) may be made available to certain user groups via an "allow list." [0023] The centralized database 150 may be queried at 306 to determine which network resources are available to the client 110. For example, the centralized database 150 may be queried for a list of available network resources 116 that may be accessed by the client 110. Alternately, the centralized database 150 may be queried about a privilege of the client 110 to access a particular network resource 116. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, for example, the centralized database 150 may be queried by the portal 130, by the broker 120, or by any other suitable component of the network 100.

[0024] At 308, the client 110 elects to access a network resource 116. In some embodiments, the election of the network resource 116 may be accomplished by transmitting a resource-specific token (e.g. an application token) to the broker 120 via a suitable communication protocol (e.g. RDP). At 310, the centralized database 150 is queried to determine whether the client 110 is authorized to access the network resource 116. In some embodiments, the broker 120 queries the centralized database 150 as part of the brokering activities performed by the broker 120. At 312, if authorized, the client 110 accesses the selected network resource 116. The data flow diagram 300 may then end. Optionally, the data flow diagram 300 may return to 302 to repeat the above-described process, or may even return to electing to access other available network resources 116 at 308. [0025] Techniques for centralized publishing of network resources in accordance with the present disclosure may provide significant advantages over the prior art. For example, such techniques may provide a single, centralized capability to publish and control access to network resources within a computer network, without regard for the particular publishing technology used by the network. The conventional practice of providing numerous access control lists distributed throughout the network may therefore be replaced with a single centralized database that controls such access throughout the network. As a result, the administrative activities associated with publishing and allowing network resources

may be significantly simplified, and the efficiency and consistency of such activities greatly improved. Also, the overall robustness of the computer network may be considerably improved.

[0026] It will be appreciated that a variety of alternate embodiments may be conceived in accordance with the teachings of the present disclosure. For example, FIG. 4 is a network 400 for centralized publishing of network resources 116 in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present disclosure. In this embodiment, the network 400 includes a client 410 that operatively communicates with a web access service 402. A data transmission abstraction layer 404 provides abstraction of data transmissions 408 between the web access service 402 and a data server abstraction layer 406. For example, in some embodiments, the data transmissions may be abstracted into a Remote Procedure Call (RPC) protocol, a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) protocol, or any other suitable communications protocol. [0027] As further shown in FIG. 4, a session broker 412 communicates via an assignment lookup component 414 and a data transmission abstraction layer 416 with the data server abstraction layer 406. Similarly, a virtual machine (VM) host 420 communicates via a data transmission abstraction layer 422 with the data server abstraction layer 406. [0028] In some embodiments, at least some of the communications with the data server abstraction layer 406 may be aliased. For example, if an aliased communication 418 specified "ICA/Wordpad," the aliased communication 418 may be interpreted by the client 110 to mean the network resource "Wordpad" accessed using an ICA (Independent Computer Architecture) remoting protocol, such as the ICA protocol available from Citrix Systems of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Of course, other aliasing schema may be employed. [0029] As shown in FIG. 4, the data server abstraction layer 406 may communicate with a centralized database 450 via a communication protocol layer 430. In this embodiment, the communication protocol layer 430 includes an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) provider 432 that facilitates RDP communications, a personal desktop provider 434 that allows an administrator to publish end-users'

individual desktops as resources, and an additional protocol-handling provider 436 that may handle an additional communication protocol (e.g. ICA, RPC, etc.) and may draw necessary information from a database 438 regarding other communication protocol providers. [0030] An administration tool 440 operatively communicates with one or more groups of resource hosts 442 (e.g. Terminal Server farms) that host one or more network resources. In turn, the groups of resource hosts 442 communicate with the centralized database 450 to update an allow list 452 that resides on the centralized database 450 and controls access to the network resources by the client 410 and other components of the network 400.

[0031] The network 400 shown in FIG. 4 may advantageously allow the integration of multiple network resources that previously were not supported by conventional network architectures. More specifically, by providing one or more of the data transmission abstraction layer 404, the data server abstraction layer 406, and the communication protocol layer 430 between the web access service 402 and the groups of resource hosts 442, the web access service 402 is able to access multiple groups of resource hosts 442 (rather than merely a single group of resource hosts 442). The network 400 thereby aggregates the multiple groups of resource hosts 442 for the web access service 402, and ultimately, for the client 110.

[0032] Furthermore, in some embodiments, since access control settings are pushed to the groups of resource hosts 442, if a particular machine or group of resource hosts 442 is unreachable, there may be situations where the settings become out of synch. The network 400 remedies this situation by providing the centralized database 450 as the back-end to store the settings, so that checking to see if a network resource is allowed to be launched is accomplished by querying the centralized database 450.

[0033] FIG. 5 is a network 500 for centralized publishing of network resources 116 in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure. The network 500 includes many of the same components as the previously-described network 400 shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, however, an administration tool

540 operatively communicates with the data server abstraction layer 406 via another data transmission abstraction layer 542. In this way, an administrator may perform one or more administrative functions on the centralized database 450 regarding publishing and controlling network resources 116 through the data server abstraction layer 406 and the communication protocol layer 430, without being required to manually edit multiple allow lists on members of the groups of resource hosts 442.

[0034] In addition to the advantages described above with respect to the network embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the network 500 may alleviate the need for network administrators to log on to multiple members of the groups of resource hosts 442. Rather, the network 500 sets up the administration tool 540 so there is a global view and the settings are pushed to the various groups of resource hosts 442 (e.g. Terminal Server farms). [0035] Similarly, FIG. 6 is a network 600 for centralized publishing of network resources 116 in accordance with yet another embodiment of the present disclosure. Again, the network 600 includes many of the same components as the previously- described network 500 shown in FIG. 5. In the implementation shown in FIG. 6, however, a data store cache 625 is disposed between the communication protocol layer 430 and a centralized database 650 that includes an allow list 652. [0036] In addition to the advantages described above with respect to the network embodiments shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the network 600 may provide an appropriate architecture to allow multiple administrators to be able to administer what network resources 116 are published and to allow delegation of privileges. The multiple administrators may, for example, be permitted to assert partial control over settings on the data store cache 625, while the centralized database 650 may remain the ultimate authority when checking to see whether a network resource 116 is allowed to be accessed.

[0037] Although the subject matter has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the subject matter defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific

features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claims.