Saturday, March 31, 2012

You can’t manage (bandwidth management) what you can’t measure

When something is a very precious asset (like network bandwidth), first know what is happening there - “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”

Manoj Narang (founder & CEO of Tradeworx ) says that “Nobody’s making extra money because of them (networks); they are a net expense to the company” – (ET, p.14 31 march 2012).

Very true – network is a huge expense to the company – something which is creating a huge hole in the expenses and will continue to grow exponentially as the internet, cloud, and the number of web applications continues to grow the way they are growing without mentioning the growth of the network data via mobile.

Many industries biggest complaint is that my network is not responding at the rate at which it should have responded or was responding so far which is affecting my productivity and worse increasing my frustration and guess what network manager has no clue either other than going back to the CIO or the CEO asking for more expensive bandwidth. Especially in Trading & financial firms where even milliseconds delay (or fast) matter and worth millions for them and they are ready to afford high speed bandwidths and they do. As per financial market research firm Tabb group, about 55% of the US equities trading volume come from firms using high frequency bandwidth.

Other 45% data generating companies or other industries or those SMBs who cannot afford those high end super-fast super big bandwidths need not sweat. There are other ways one can speed up their traffic at their end along with a combination of not-so-expensive MPLS/other networks.  I will not talk about MPLS or other high speed networks but read on about how to make your side of the network not choke your side of the bandwidth, and some research suggested that 50% of the choke happens outside and other 50% happens inside. Let’s fix the inside part as it is easier and in our control.

When you need your business critical applications to use the precious expensive bandwidth, there are always many non-biz critical or mundane routine backups and replications hogging the bandwidth and they don’t know nor aware that they can actually slow down when a biz critical application  data arrives and then move back to their normal speed when the biz  critical ones are done – how can they – they are not intelligent packets :-) But yes you have technology and products (like i7 networks or few other companies across the globe) which can actually sit at the edge of the network (or as in i7 case – even on the cloud) and sniff the packets (deep enough to know what kind of traffic it is, even if it in encrypted), auto find out what kind of traffic it is and use self-intelligence to see whether it is critical or not and prioritize (or even contain if it is entertainment or stop if it is bad) the critical apps and critical data and get the max out of your precious expensive bandwidth – by this you almost won ½ the war :-)

Coming back to kind of products, new generation packet visualization and shaping or prioritizing products are in the making. They can now visualize, manage networks at user level, application level, devices level etc to such a granularity, one will be amazed to know what is happening in today’s network and that too all at real time giving enormous data and control to network monitoring team to catch issues at brown-out time itself rather than at black-out saving precious money both by preventing such outages as well as enhancing productivity. Even metrics and dash boarding of metrics has become very advanced with metrics being runtime, collect all data rather than just sampling, great insights into analytics with different way of seeing depending on who is consuming it (network engineer, to NOC center people to CIOs to CEOs), Application centric to device centric to user centric to biz hour data reporting with clear details on who/how/what the bandwidth being used. All possible because, it accomplishes that by looking (inspecting) at every packet that traverses the network, understand its contents enough (not complete and especially not data so that privacy is still breached), figure out where it originated, where it is destined to. Sometimes the packets are masked to cover up all these and that can found out out too as one doesn’t inspect just few packets but even the flow of packets reveals much more info. As they say you can’t manage what you can’t measure – step 1 – let’s see & measure what is happening on our bandwidth first :-)

(Author is the CEO of i7 Networks which works on network traffic visualizer and shaper. Done via on premise (either appliance based or so or on the cloud)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Net Neutrality, India, World

Net Neutrality, Bandwidth Management, India, US..........

Yesterday read an interesting article about Net neutrality and how it is treated in the US and how we do in India. This was the editorial of Economic Times (dated 3/27 Tue). For those who are not aware of this, ISP providers can actually if they want to, find out the kind of applications that is flowing say whether it is Facebook, YouTube, p2p like bit torrent, Sap/Oracle, movie streaming, cricket streaming etc. and can control the speed of each one of them - worse they can make those downloads faster those who pay higher premium or make their own application if they have any much faster and slow down at different rates (what is called Throttling) for different applications.

Something like assume your cable provider should air all the channels but he will put his channels at the regular speed and may be those who pay him premium at also regular speeds and few channels who might not pay him may be at a slower speed and assume watching your cricket at a slow motion speed or watching a action flick movie at 1/3rd the speed - Oops you say and I can hear it :-) 

Yes we should not give that control to the ISP providers and they will kill the whole internet the very purpose of why it was created and why it survived so far. US strictly follows this rule and wont allow ISPs to control who goes fast and what goes slow (but they do know what goes for sure - you cant manage what you cant measure - remember) (this is done using a technology called DPI or Deep Packet Inspection and uses software which are specialized in them say like what i7 networks and others do). But in India we don't have a clear law about net neutrality as far as ISPs are considered and I do find many times and some traffic is slower than other traffic especially during business hours. We in India need to get this law enacted soon before the internet becomes a matter for just few rich guys.

That does not mean that I don't support the shaping or throttling at all but should not be done at ISP level. Yes enterprises can always do so that their expensive bandwidth is mainly used for business critical applications rather than people downloading movies or streaming cricket or football or even p2p downloads or say people deciding to put such a device at their home and the owner of the house deciding what needs to be prioritized and what needs to be throttles and what needs to be blocked and ofcoursewhat really happens as per the usage of his or her bandwidth. Don't you like to see a report like your phone bill which says your bandwidth was ofcourse fully used but this % was used for facebook, this % was for movie streaming, this % was for your online games not just that, % usage-wise based on user and even say based on devide-wise (how much your Ip enabled TV consumed versus your ipad) - don't you love that data and that much control - I see some smiles - yes we could have that metrics and control but in our hands and not in our ISP hands. After all we live, & breathe democracy - it is almost like freedom of speech and freedom of choice and freedom of expression!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bandwidth Demand going North - anyone to Manage????

Bandwidth usage is expected to atleast double in the next 12 months as per new research from IDC. Internet generated broadband traffic will increase approximately 50% yoy on fixed networks and double of that on mobile networks. This is a lot of data and the bandwidths are not increasing at the same speed. Only way is to Shape and prioritize the traffic and cache as much as possible else if anyone had been to Bangalore can easily related to this - will become like traffic on Bangalore roads :-)

IDC also forecasts that end-user demand for worldwide wireline and mobile broadband traffic will increase from 9,665 petabytes per month in 2010 to a jaw-dropping 116,539 petabytes per month in 2015. Web browsing, peer-to-peer file sharing, audio/video streaming, and a host of other applications are all driving bandwidth consumption. "The enormous growth in end-user demand for both fixed and mobile broadband services is staggering," said Matt Davis, director of Consumer and SMB Telecom Services. "Despite enormous growth projected in IDC's forecast, it is difficult to overestimate this phenomenon. Fixed and mobile operators will have to deal with a new reality that will tax network resources to the limit —and perhaps past the limit." 

Obviously this growth shouldn’t come as a surprise that data demands are continuing to rise. Therefore, it is imperative that both home and business networks are able to cope in order to deliver a great user experience. For instance, people are putting greater strains on their wireless connections, as they seek to access increasing amounts of video content and applications from the home, the office and on the move. Thanks to some great advances in networking speeds and performance are continuing to improve but not enough. New generation intelligent movement & speed of traffic is very critical to sustain this growth.  So whether you are a consumer wanting uninterrupted access to HD streaming content or a business requiring improved connectivity for cloud computing, VoIP services or IP surveillance, networking technology is continuing to evolve to meet these needs. Data demands won’t go away so it provides a great opportunity for the channel to continually offer support to customers and meet their networking & data download/traffic needs.

BTW now jumping to the pure mobile data statistics. With the availability of 4G LTE connectivity on new iPads, users can get more data and faster and from just about anywhere on the globe. This is already leading to Quota-full and further "throttling" and hence more dissatisfied customers.  The latest quarterly mobile workforce survey from iPass found a 25 percent decline in cellular mobile network satisfaction. iPass also cited a recent Gartner Inc. report that said, "By 2015, 80 percent of newly installed enterprise wireless networks will be obsolete due to initial installation of non-scalable technology. Whoops - Scary - Get ready for a revamp of network and ofcourse revamp of tools too!!

Very soon we will see a tug-of-war between enterprise networks and cellular data networks. If enterprise networks don't keep pace, users are going to turn to mobile network operators, even for using their devices within the workplace - Scary for enterprise and their security and all their policies go for a toss. Also BYOD policies will boomerang as it may end up costing the company more in the form of ballooning wireless bills or infrastructure upgrades.

Many mobile device management (MDM) offerings are coming up tp manage the cost, optimize the bandwidth as well as secure them there are not such new generation tools available on the market right now to help enterprises deal with the bandwidth demand coming down the road, both on the road and in the office. Of course, your organization still needs to deal with increased bandwidth demand on the enterprise network. What plans are you as a innovation company/entrepreneur  making for that development? :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bandwidth will choke like Bangalore Roads

1. For mobile service carriers, however, this has created a certain amount of
havoc. Somewhat unexpectedly, all of that video traffic has opened the
floodgates for a huge upsurge in data traversing the network. Concurrently,
a vast and ever-expanding ocean of apps for smartphones and tablets
continues to pull down an additional and staggering amount of data from the
network at all times. 

2. Please manage my network data
Manage My Network: Businesses Turn to the Experts for Help

DALLAS, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The explosive growth of network-dependent data, devices and apps is creating technology complexity and cost challenges for large and medium-sized businesses. 

3. Video Speed Trap Lurks in New iPad

Users Find the Superfast 4G Link Carries a Big Cost: Churning Through Data Limits in Mere Hours

Such decisions set up a quandary for wireless carriers, which are rolling out multibillion-dollar high-speed networks that use a technology called LTE. The technology promises to boost mobile download speeds by 10 times compared with third-generation networks, making it almost purpose-built for mobile video.