by April 7, 2004 0 comments

How many times has it happened that your Net connect crawls just when you need to download some important information or send a business proposal over e-mail? Internet connectivity bandwidth has always been an issue with most organizations.

No matter how much bandwidth you buy for your users, it never seems to be enough. But there are other problems as well.

For instance, are your users satisfied by the performance of your local network, or does a file transfer from your file server takes ages? How about your WAN links? Are they able to handle the load of your business applications such as ERP and, at the same time, also cater to your other requirements, perhaps Voice over IP and intranet? These are all bandwidth-related issues faced by most organizations today, and buying more bandwidth may or may not solve the problem. It might be more of a bandwidth-management issue, and in this nine-page story, we will address some of these issues and their possible solutions.

Bandwidth Management on WANs
The stress on WAN links is increasing every day. How do you ensure that your business applications get priority access?

Understanding Quality of Services
Bandwidth management requires giving your critical business applications priority, using QoS policies 

Before deciding to buy more bandwidth, assess your current bandwidth usage to see whether it’s being used effectively or not. If it’s not, then what would it require to make that happen? Understand the key issues involved, identify the problem areas and bottlenecks and finally determine the most suitable technology or solution to resolve it. First, ensure that it’s indeed a bandwidth-related issue and not something else. The slow file transfers, for instance, might be because your server configuration is outdated or there is a problem at the client’s end. One live example of this is mis-configured personal firewalls, a problem that a lot of organizations face. A personal firewall can sometimes become too protective and start blocking traffic that it shouldn’t. For instance, when a client communicates with a server, it can use multiple protocols over multiple ports. If the firewall doesn’t configure a proper rule for this, it can actually slow down the communication. Once these kinds of problems have been resolved, start planning your bandwidth.

There’s no single bandwidth-management solution for all organizations. It depends mainly upon the quality and level of service you require for your applications. You may need more bandwidth for some applications than for others. So start by identifying which applications are critical for your business and list them down in the order of priority, along with how your business will be affected if they were to go down. Next, assess how much bandwidth they really need and how much are they actually getting. For instance, if you find that a large part of your bandwidth is being consumed by MP3 downloads, and your e-mail service is suffering because of this, then you might want to limit the downloads. On the other hand, if e-mail download is slow because the same link is being used for VPN connectivity, then you may want to allocate fixed bandwidth to both services, because they’re equally important. Voice and video applications are very time sensitive and can’t afford any transmission delays, so you may need to dedicate some bandwidth for them. This list will help you determine the QoS (quality of service) you require from your bandwidth. Lastly, the QoS will help you work out the best solution in terms of which products, technologies and solutions to choose.

By anil chopra, geetaj channana and shekhar govindarajan

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