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Probationary Configuration Change Process to Prevent Loss of System Control Disclosure Number: IPCOM000236304D
Publication Date: 2014-Apr-17
Document File: 2 page(s) / 23K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


Disclosed is a method that temporarily deploys settings changes to allow a test before committing the changes to a system in which those changes block access to the control interface.

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Probationary Configuration Change Process to Prevent Loss of System Control

When performing configuration or reconfiguration of management (typically headless) devices, it is possible to define a configuration that, when deployed, will cause the device to become unreachable. Typically, the solution to this problem involves some sort of reset at the hardware level or re-configuration using a serial cable or similar device. Each of these cases requires the administrator to directly interact with the hardware, which presents problems in a modern data center design, where staff and machines are not guaranteed to be co-located. An alternative mechanism to provide protection against configuration mistakes that result in loss of remote control is to have redundant paths to the configuration interface. This adds cost to any implementation that scales with the size of the data center.

For settings (network/security) that can close off the ability to access the control interface for the settings themselves, a novel method is disclosed that temporarily deploys settings changes to allow a test before committing the changes. Multiple factors may influence the acceptance criteria used for confirming a settings change. These include human consent, a programmatic test, and a time-based probation with an acknowledgement of correct operation.

The advantage of the novel method is that redundant hardware is not required to implement the solution and it provides a mechanism to retain and automatically revert to the current settings in the event that a change to the settings renders the system temporarily unusable or unreachable. This eliminates the requirement to have personnel physically access the system to recover from a problematic settings adjustment.

The method solves the cited problem for both the network and security settings domains. This is not intended to be a comprehensive exposition of potential uses of this method, however. In appliance implementations, there may be additional restrictions on access to configuration elements that benefit from the abstract methods taught here. The common part of the implementation where the discussion claims novelty is that the method uses probationary measures to prevent irreversible changes with negative consequences. That is, the settings are reverted to the prior state when the settings fail to deliver the expected outcome.

For network settings, the most effective way to do this is to create a cloned instance of the device within the operating system. This cloned device has the updated settings applied to it to ensure continuity of communication on the current device during the probationary period. The desired changes are applied to the cloned device and then confirmed by any number of methods that this new instance has the required function. Once the required tests have passed, the settings from the virtual instance can be migrated to the original instance on confirmation, on reboot, or never, depen...