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Linking client/server workgroups

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015845D
Original Publication Date: 2002-May-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Document File: 3 page(s) / 59K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Typical client/server software allows a collection of workstations connected by local area network (LAN) to work together and to share resources such as databases, printers and communications facilities. Such a collection of workstations is called a workgroup. Each workstation in the workgroup runs a program called the client/server supervisor (SPV) and one or more programs to implement the user’s application. These programs are designated as either clients or servers. Servers are the programs that provide access to the resources (e.g. a shared printer) or other services that the client programs make use of.

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Linking client/server workgroups

Typical client/server software allows a collection of workstations connected by local area network (LAN) to work together and to share resources such as databases, printers and communications facilities. Such a collection of workstations is called a workgroup. Each workstation in the workgroup runs a program called the client/server supervisor (SPV) and one or more programs to implement the user's application. These programs are designated as either clients or servers. Servers are the programs that provide access to the resources (e.g. a shared printer) or other services that the client programs make use of.

    When a client requires the services of a server it creates a request containing the name of the server and details of the action to be performed and passes this to the local SPV. The SPV sends the request to the SPV on the workstation running the server which in turn passes it to the server for processing. When the processing is complete a reply is returned to the client by the reverse route. This mechanism for routing requests and replies allows the client and server programs to be independent of the workgroup topology. Only SPVs need to know on which workstation the various clients and servers are located.

    In addition to the request and replies mentioned above there is a third type of communication passed between programs called a message. Messages are used to notify programs of asynchronous events such as completion of a long running piece of work or arrival of data from a communications link.

FIG. 1

      Fig.1 shows three workstations, A0, A1 and A2. A0 is running a server called SERVER1 which is used by client programs in workstations A1 and A2.

      Currently, servers in one workgroup are not available to clients in another workgroup. For example, a bank may have many branches, each of which uses its own workgroup to connect the workstations, printers, teller machines, passbook printers,

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cash dispensers etc. and allow them to work together. However if staff in one branch need to interrogate a database in another branch, or to print a statement for the attention of staff of the other branch then the client/server software is unable to meet that need.

      One prior art solution is to combine all the branches into one workgroup. However this has some disadvantages, for example, network traffic increase. Furthermore, when a branch is reconfigured (for example by adding a new workstation) then the workgroup topology information in all the workstations in all the branches would have to be updated. Additionally, historical design decisions (for example with NetBIOS) limit the number of direct connections between workstations.

      Another prior art solution is to write a pair of programs that communicate with each other over the computer network and use these to communicate between workgroups. The problem with this solution is that special progr...