Browse Prior Art Database

Autonomic Inventory using WiFi

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000018730D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Aug-04
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Aug-04
Document File: 2 page(s) / 38K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Method to pinpoint the exact location of computer connected to a wireless LAN. The computer can identify the name of the access points within range of the computer. All access points within range are stored. The computer also stores the signal strength from each access point. With this information it is possible to pinpoint the exact location of the computer.

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Autonomic Inventory using WiFi

The ability to physically locate a machine is critical for many large customers. The ability to just access the machine on the network is not sufficient in many cases. Some examples include:

1) Maintenance: During various virus attacks including the recent code red attack each server had to be manually tracked and a repair action performed on the server. It was difficult and time consuming to determine actually physical location from the IP addresses.
2) Lease: Computers at the end of lease have a value if they are returned. Once again it is very difficult to actually find the computers from just an IP address as the computer can be physically located anywhere on a large campus.

Current solutions of tracking of assets is handled by a manual physical inventory and database. The administrator or user adds physical location information into the industry standard Device Management Interface (DMI) field. This is readable by inventory programs. However this method is not accurate as computers on a large campus moved many times and frequently the database and DMI is not updated.

What is needed is a reliable method of allowing a computer to determine when it has moved physical locations, determine where the new location is and, automatically update the inventory database.

802.11 wireless LAN use access points with unique identifiers that are always in a fixed position. Different access points that are nearby use different non overlapping channels. This is done so clients can associate with the access point with the best signal quality which yields the best bandwidth.

A client usually associates with an access point by passive scanning: the client determines the support channels by listening for traffic. The client starts scanning with the last known channel that it previously connected to and listens for traffic or a beacon. If the client does not detect activity it then moves to the next non overlapping channel.

The inventory scan is invoked on two conditions:

1) First time. On each association we check to see if the inventory scan has been...