Sunday, April 15, 2012

QoS and Home network

QoS and Home network

Last time I talked to someone who was sharing his bandwidth performance woes and was saying that he doubled his bandwidth pretty much doubling his budget but still he hits issues regarding bandwidth performance and his ISP provider keeps telling him that he is using his max bandwidth available and he has no idea why this is happening when he is doing very minimal bandwidth load.

On asking him hey how many IP devices do you have in your house and he stopped for a second to count and he could not believe his own count – it was 15 – Yes it was 15 and let me list what he told me
  • -          4 laptops
  • -          IP connected TV
  • -          3 smart phones
  • -          2 ipads
  • -          An Xbox
  • -          2 IP printers
  • -          1 other gaming devices
  • -          1 Home theatre PC

Little more analysis of his case showed that there were lot of downloads happening across many of these devices automatically and often it is required. Issue crops up say when his home theater PC often downloads media content from the Internet or xbox is downloading game updates or when gaming devices are being used for some online community games. When that happens the download path of the link becomes congested, and usually home networks not being more than 2 or 4mpbs, the performance of anything else running in the home network heavily degrades. This affects all other work at home and especially those when doing office work from home.

The optimal solution is shaping of the traffic or what we also call throttling of the traffic. Ideally we would like media content download from the home theatre PC to not hinder web browsing or other critical tasks done on the internet or xbox downloads not to interfere the office work done from home. One needs to classify and assign priority numbers to all these devices and kind of downloads, and that way we can slow down the low priority traffic when the high priority traffic comes. This shaping based on class of activity or download and prioritizing the traffic is called QoS and this technology is called Packet Shaping and there are devices and offerings on the cloud which can do that easily for a small fee per month which is much much cheaper than your cost of increasing the bandwidth for the same performance or throughput!!

Not just media download or even Xbox updates, there are many patch or OS upgrade downloads or even dropbox sync ups or say your ubuntu downloads and may be assigned low priority, while web browsing, youtube etc can be assigned medium priority and may be office related work like oracle or sap access etc can be made high priority. Even this prioritization and classes are most of the time done by the QoS companies (say like i7 networks J )and every rarely you need to tweak it and once you connect such a QoS service, you are done and ready to enjoy the maximum network performance and throughput at a minimal cost with the same existing bandwidth (budget) – Sweet – isn’t it J

We strongly believe that a person example here is not an exception but a rule and will become a major issue at homes of managing the limited bandwidth. Especially with the advent of new ipads and such devices which are data and bandwidth hungry, the problem only grows. Ofcourse one can solve these issues using shaping as well as reporting the usage per device, per activity and per user which might give a clear idea on what is happening (metrics) as well as  how to manage and if there are things that are not be accessed (blocked) and are there things that need be slowed down (contain) and ofcourse the things that need to be fastened (accelerate) and another dimension of those things that can be cached (caching).
Now after reading this, read some of the finding of IDC and you will understand the scary part of the bandwidth and the data:

“A new report from IDC has predicted that global internet traffic will increase by 32 per cent each year until 2015. However, the average spend on network equipment is only expected to increase by 10 per cent per year. The research, carried out by IDC, forecasts an 8 per cent increase in spending on equipment between 2011 and 2014. As a result of these figures, the IDC claims that internet service providers may be wondering how they will meet the demand without more spending on the infrastructure to allow it. The traffic increase is being blamed largely on the growing number of people watching video online – with the emergence of video streaming services, via the internet, to our TVs, for example. The increased use of Smartphones all over the world is another reason demand for bandwidth is growing exponentially. By 2014, more than 3 billion Smartphone devices will be in use globally. These devices make the internet more accessible than ever, this enables them to stay online for longer and from a greater number of locations. The final reason given is simply the growing user base. As internet use becomes normal in more and more developing countries, the user base is growing all the time.”
So best of luck with your bandwidth performance and budget J

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