News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Server Aggregated Application Streaming", for Approval

February 20, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Saxena, Anurekh (Newcastle, WA); Subramanian, Hariharan (Wakefield, MA); Aswathanarayana, Tejasvi (Salem, NH), filed on January 14, 2013, was made available online on February 6, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Antecea, Inc.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Remote access to the desktop environment of a computer is well known in the art and many facilities are available to enable this functionality. Current implementations of this functionality allow remote access to the desktop of a computer via another computer, typically having the same or similar display screen and user interfaces (i.e., mouse and keyboard) for purposes of running applications on the remotely-accessed computer or to provide technical support to the remotely-accessed computer.

"It is also desirable to be able to remotely access a computer via a mobile device, for example an iPhone or iPad running the iOS operating system, and implementations are available to stream the desktop of a computer to a mobile device running iOS. Traditional remote desktop applications on mobile devices minor the display of a remote computer and provide simulation for mouse and keyboard events. This provides a challenge on smaller embedded devices where screen size is limited and these devices generally do not have external mouse or keyboards.

"However, such implementations can be awkward due to the differences in the display and user interfaces of the devices. For example, when the entire desktop is streamed, windows typically appear much smaller on an iOS device because of the differences in the screen sizes between the remotely-accessed system and the iOS device, often rendering their contents unreadable. Additionally, mouse-like functions on an iOS device are typically provided via finger gestures made directly on the screen. As such, the context provided by a mouse with left and right buttons is missing and it is difficult to provide the same functionality as is available with a mouse having left and right buttons. For example, to move a window requires left-clicking the banner of the window, dragging the mouse to a new location, and releasing the left button. Likewise, clicking the right mouse button will typically bring up a contextual menu. Some applications on Apple's iOS platform use the finger gestures to simulate mouse actions, however, some mouse operations are difficult using the finger gestures available on an iOS device.

"It would therefore be desirable to provide a facility allowing remote access to resources on remote systems which alleviate the deficiencies noted above, namely small displays on mobile devices and the difficulty of interacting with a remote system without the benefit of a mouse or keyboard."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The present invention allows for the remote access of one or more remote computers via one of three methods: desktop streaming, application streaming or window streaming. A user may enable one or more computers as servers which allow remote access via a mobile device, for example, an iPhone or iPad running the iOS operating system (the 'client'). These remote computers and the applications they have available appear as a single aggregated view acting as a single virtual computer on the client with which it interacts. Additionally, server resources may be grouped together to form clusters, allowing transparent access over all nodes in the cluster. Note that, although the invention is presented in the context of the use of a mobile device as the client, any computer could be used as the client.

"Each computer which is a member of the designated cluster runs server software which provides the functionality of the present invention. If a cluster of servers has been formed, one of the nodes will be appointed as the master node. The master node will engage in a discovery process which determines what applications are available on each member of the cluster for remote access via streaming.

"The design described below simplifies remote desktop access by identifying the components the users most care about (applications, data, windows) and provides a native (for the mobile device) interface to their desktop when applicable.

"Application streaming is based on the idea that users access their desktop from a mobile device to do one or more of the following: (1) Interact with an application that is running on their computer. This could be something as simple as viewing a movie or viewing a PDF file. It could also involve using applications that are not available on mobile devices like complex graphics applications; or (2) Manage applications on a desktop computer (start and stop applications, interact with application menus and user interface elements etc).

"There are two software applications required for this design. First, there is an application running on the desktop computer(s) that the user wishes to control. This application will be referred to henceforth as the 'server'. Second, these is an application running on the mobile device that will connect to the server with the intention of viewing and controlling applications on the server. This application will be referred to henceforth as the 'client'.

"The server and client applications connect via a network interface (Direct TCP/UDP or via a cloud service) as shown in FIG. 1.

"The server(s) will perform an application discovery process and the client will receive a list of applications available for remote access from all computers in the cluster and may or may not know which computer in the cluster will be providing the desired service. Preferably, all available applications served by computers in the cluster will appear in a native manner on the client's user interface. For example, if the user is remotely accessing the cluster via an iOS device, the selection of available applications may appear as icons on the user interface, Alternatively, the list of applications offered by the server may appear as a list which is available from a single app.

"To start the remote application running on one of the computers in the cluster, the user will select the appropriate icon, or may search for a data file (for example, a WORD doc, an Excel file, a PDF file, a JPG file, etc.) which requires the running of a particular application and may select the document. The document will preferably be searched for using the user interface (UI) provided natively on mobile device, and may reside on the client or on any one of the remotely accessed computers in the cluster.

"The running of the selected application on one of the computers in the cluster is preferably transparent to the user. That is, if two or more of the computers offer the same application, one will be selected by the server software based on a set of collected heuristics or metrics to optimize for best performance, lowest cost, greatest storage capacity or other value-added aspects offered by the server. Applications may be presented to the user based on various criteria, such as load balancing, the user's level of service, or offering of a server running a specific application that can manipulate or view that file using features or services the user may prefer or the server wishes to present to the user based on the heuristics.

"As previously mentioned, the user may access the application in one of three modes. The first mode is desktop streaming, in which the entire desktop of the remote computer which is serving the application is shown. This is the mode offered by many prior art implementations of remote desktop access. The second mode is application streaming mode, in which a desktop showing only the windows of the selected application. The third mode is window streaming mode, in which only the active window of the selected application is shown. The mode of access is preferably selectable by the user or settable as a parameter of the cluster.

"The server software preferably monitors the priority of windows appearing on computers in the cluster to ensure that the remote user only sees the appropriate windows, which may or may not include access to modal windows which may appear from time to time with a higher priority than the application window being access by the user.

"Access to specific applications on the cluster is controlled via traditional security protocols, such as username/password combinations, although any known method of controlling access may be used. Access may be allowed to all applications and all documents, or may be restricted to specific applications and documents. Multiple users may remotely access the cluster simultaneously.

"In another aspect of the invention, applications may be streamed from a central cluster server to users, potentially for a fee. This is useful if the user has a document but does not have access to the proper application to open the document or does not have his own remote computers that can act as servers. For example, the user receives a PDF file in an email but does not have the proper reader installed on his remotely accessible cluster. In such a case, the application may be streamed from a commercial cluster. This can be based on a per view basis, per application launch, or for a period of time based on subscription or an access key provided.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 shows two different topologies under which the invention may be used.

"FIG. 2 shows the desktop computer having applications running configured to accept requests from clients.

"FIG. 3 shows a mobile device showing the available applications on the desktop computer of FIG. 2.

"FIG. 4 shows a cluster of two server computers and a mobile device accessing the cluster showing windows streaming mode.

"FIG. 5 is a block diagram, showing the basic components of the invention.

"FIG. 6 shows additional components implementing a search function.

"FIG. 7 shows the interaction of the invention with a social networking cloud to facilitate various functions and configurations of the invention.

"FIG. 8 shows components implementing the quality of service features of the invention.

"FIG. 9 shows components implementing the widow monitoring features of the invention.

"FIG. 10 shows components of the invention implementing the windows virtualization functions.

"FIG. 11 shows additional components for allowing a client user to automate input for various windows.

"FIG. 12 is an example showing menu virtualization.

"FIG. 13 shows a cluster connected to the main cloud showing the connection broker and the client accessing the cluster through the cloud.

"FIG. 14 shows the basic components of both a regular server and a server designated as an aggregator or master server."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Saxena, Anurekh; Subramanian, Hariharan; Aswathanarayana, Tejasvi. Server Aggregated Application Streaming. Filed January 14, 2013 and posted February 6, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=744&p=15&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140130.PD.&OS=PD/20140130&RS=PD/20140130

Keywords for this news article include: Software, Antecea Inc..

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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