NetEqualizer News: October 2018


We hope you enjoy this month’s NetEqualizer Newsletter. Highlights include our 8.6 Release finishing its testing phase and more!

 

October 2018

 

8.6 Release is Ready for Pre-Release!
Greetings! Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News.

Here in Colorado, we never really got a chance to experience a light frost. We went from a balmy 65 degrees on October 13th to winter with snow with temperatures in the mid teens on October 14th.
Like the changes in the weather, the NetEqualizer feature set is always evolving. In this issue we bring you the new 8.6 release, and as an added bonus a little out of-the-box thinking for the future. 

We continue to work with you to solve some of your most pressing network problems – so if you have one that you would like to discuss with us, please call or email me anytime at 303.997.1300 x103 or art@apconnections.net. 

– Art Reisman (CTO)

In this Issue:

:: The 8.6 Release is GA

:: Far-out Product Ideas

The 8.6 Release is GA

8.6 is now available for everyone!

How to get 8.6

Just e-mail us at support@apconnections.net or call us at 303-997-1300 during business hours to get the ball rolling.

Is upgrading painful?

No needles we promise! The upgrade process for 8.6 requires running a couple of commands from the GUI and then a single reboot. Worst case you should expect a 30 second service outage.

What is in 8.6?

Perhaps you missed our internal review back in August when we were testing. Here are the details of the main 8.6 features.  You can also read our full 8.6 Release Notes on our blog site at any time.

1) Scalable Time and Date for Reporting

Ever ask the question, “what was my bandwidth usage between 9:00pm and 12:00 pm last Thursday?” We now have the answer at your finger tips. Using the time and date range bar, located at the top of all our graphical reports, you can hone in on a particular time/date period – immediately rescaling the report as you move the bar. Our previous releases had fixed time periods of one day, one week, one month, etc. which was nice, but nowhere near as convenient. This was one of our most requested features.

2) Set your Priority to expire

Giving a user priority is akin to giving them permanent keys to the Fort Knox of Bandwidth. Perhaps you have a user that has a good reason for some extra bandwidth on Tuesday evening due to a business presentation; but come Wednesday you don’t wan’t their laptop with priority to accidentally go off in the middle day on a 50G backup with unlimited bandwidth, that might bring your network to a crawl. Never fear! Now, when assigning priority you can set an expiration date on your priority and avoid leaving that gate open.

3) Watch individual usage live on your screen

We have always had static reports on historical usage per IP, and now we have added a real time bar chart that updates once a second, so you can see in real time what a single IP is doing in terms of usage. I have used it while watching youtube and Netflix video, and was surprised to see how these application will consistently burst ahead to buffer up large chunks of bandwidth just by watching the usage bar jump up. I had suspected this behavior from Netflix, but it was nice to see it confirmed visually on my screen.

4) Bursting Pool/Subnet settings

People have always liked our pool/subnet shaping feature, but we often get asked by customers to relax enforcement during slack usage times. For example, if you have your guest wireless network restricted to 50 megabits on a 1G circuit on our 8.5 release, those users will never be able to go above 50 megabits. Now in 8.6, if you put a 50 megabit restriction on a group you can tell the NetEqualizer only to enforce that rule when the entire circuit is at capacity. With our 8.6 release, you have the choice of keeping the hard 50 megabit restriction in place all the time, or to only enforce this restriction during peak times.

As always, the 8.6 Release will be free to customers with valid NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS) plans. Renew today if you are not current!

Far-out Product Ideas

Some interesting product ideas, just for fun…

Every once in a while we try to get out of the box and think of ideas that will stretch the imagination a little bit. Below are a couple that came to mind today. If you have a far-out idea, we’d love to hear about it. As a technology company we are always looking for ways to leap frog into new paradigms.
Site Survey Drone
I suspect others have thought of this idea and perhaps it has been implemented, so apologies in advance in case this is not an original idea.
We know that there are a variety of ways to survey areas for wireless coverage, and yet once the service is rolled out, dead spots abound. The contractor in charge must rely on reports from customers, or physically walk the site to find areas lacking in coverage. Seems like a good job for a small drone? Yes you need to a little intelligence to self navigate, and perhaps there might be little problems like closed doors (there goes the engineer in me thinking of obstacles). Bottom line is, it could be done, and could save a good bit of time and money.
Cleaning your Keyboard After a Sticky Spill
Yes I am going farther out with this one, but what if there was some service where you could hire an ant colony to clean up that sugary mess on your key board or mother board? Would ants be able to do this job effectively? The idea came to me when I saw a heard of goats being used to clear brush and noxious weeds off public right aways and roadsides. Ants are tireless workers and love sugar and people are always destroying their electronics with sticky spills.
Automatic Survey Response Application for your Phone 
I get 10 robo-calls a day with operators spoofing caller ID’s. You really can’t block them because they have figured out how to come from a new number with every call, and if you do block them, you are likely blocking an innocent party, since the caller ID was hijacked. To date, the FCC seems reluctant to do anything about it. I am not sure why perhaps there is money in this traffic for the operators? Last I heard, 50 percent of outbound calls in the US is from this garbage spammed traffic.
My idea: What if you had a little intelligent application (your private Watson that understands context) on your phone that responded like a potential real customer. Here is an example interaction.

Robo-Caller: Hello this is Henry with the warranty department, did you know your 1978 Honda is not covered by warranty?

Robo-App: Wow, please tell me more!

Robo-Caller: For a simple $9.99 a month we can extend your expired manufacture’s warranty.

Robo-App: Yes I’d like to sign up…

And so on. The idea is to engage the robo-caller for as long as possible, thus wasting their time to the point where the spamming operation is no longer viable.

Please email me at art@apconnections.net to share your far-out idea!
Blueberry Picking in New York

This picture is of a late summer right of passage in New York – picking blueberries with the family. It was taken last year at a blueberry patch in the Finger Lakes.

APconnections, home of the NetEqualizer | (303) 997-1300 | Email | Website 

NetEqualizer News: August 2018


We hope you enjoy this month’s NetEqualizer Newsletter. Highlights include our 8.6 Release finishing its testing phase and more!

 

August 2018

 

8.6 Release is Ready for Pre-Release!
Greetings! Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News.

Wow how the summer flies by. The public schools here in Colorado are all in full session this week. By the time Labor day roles around, the buses will have been rolling for two weeks. Even though the days are still hot, and it still feels like summer outside our offices, nature is starting to signal the end of the season. The orioles that frequented our backyard feeder since May have headed south, replaced by migrating humming birds that are coming down from the mountains on their journey to Mexico and beyond. Best of all, August signals the completion of the 8.6 testing cycle. We will be releasing 8.6 with all its amazing new features in just a few days! 

We continue to work with you to solve some of your most pressing network problems – so if you have one that you would like to discuss with us, please call or email me anytime at 303.997.1300 x103 or art@apconnections.net. 

– Art Reisman (CTO)

In this Issue:

:: The 8.6 Release

:: Call Out for Pre Release Testing

:: Best of Blog: Three Myths About QoS and Your Internet Speed

The 8.6 Release

8.6 is headed to pre-release!

There are quite a few “wow” features in this upcoming release. Here are some first impressions now that our early beta users have had a chance to kick the tires on a live 8.6 system…

1) Scalable Time and Date for reporting

Ever ask the question, “what was my bandwidth usage between 9:00pm and 12:00 pm last Thursday?” We now have the answer at your finger tips. Using the time and date range bar, located at the top of all our graphical reports, you can hone in on a particular time/date period – immediately rescaling the report as you move the bar. Our previous releases had fixed time periods of one day, one week, one month, etc. which was nice, but nowhere near as convenient. This was one of our most requested features.

2) Set your Priority to expire

Giving a user priority is akin to giving them permanent keys to the Fort Knox of Bandwidth. Perhaps you have a user that has a good reason for some extra bandwidth on Tuesday evening due to a business presentation; but come Wednesday you don’t wan’t their laptop with priority to accidentally go off in the middle day on a 50G backup with unlimited bandwidth, that might bring your network to a crawl. Never fear! Now, when assigning priority you can set an expiration date on your priority and avoid leaving that gate open.

3) Watch individual usage live on your screen

We have always had static reports on historical usage per IP, and now we have added a real time bar chart that updates once a second, so you can see in real time what a single IP is doing in terms of usage. I have used it while watching youtube and Netflix video, and was surprised to see how these application will consistently burst ahead to buffer up large chunks of bandwidth just by watching the usage bar jump up. I had suspected this behavior from Netflix, but it was nice to see it confirmed visually on my screen.

4) Bursting Pool/Subnet settings

People have always liked our pool/subnet shaping feature, but we often get asked by customers to relax enforcement during slack usage times. For example, if you have your guest wireless network restricted to 50 megabits on a 1G circuit on our 8.5 release, those users will never be able to go above 50 megabits. Now in 8.6, if you put a 50 megabit restriction on a group you can tell the NetEqualizer only to enforce that rule when the entire circuit is at capacity. With our 8.6 release, you have the choice of keeping the hard 50 megabit restriction in place all the time, or to only enforce this restriction during peak times.

As always, the 8.6 Release will be free to customers with valid NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS) plans. Renew today if you are not current!

Beat the crowd get a pre-release version

We need your help!

As of August 15th, we have completed all of our pre-release testing and declared 8.6 stable and ready for live customers! If you are dying to get your hands on any of our new features described above, please e-mail us and we will be glad to send out a pre-release version.

Best Of Blog

Three Myths About QoS and Your Internet Speed

By Art Reisman
This month’s best of blog talks about QoS and your Internet speed. It’s one of our favorites! Enjoy.

—————————————————————————————————————–
Myth #1: A QoS device will somehow make your traffic go faster across the Internet.
The Internet does not care about your local QoS device. In fact, QoS means nothing to the Internet. The only way your traffic can get special treatment across the Internet would be for you to buy a private dedicated link – which is really not practical for general Internet usage, as it would only be a point-to-point link…

Photo of the Month
Blueberry Picking in New York

This picture is of a late summer right of passage in New York – picking blueberries with the family. It was taken last year at a blueberry patch in the Finger Lakes.

APconnections, home of the NetEqualizer | (303) 997-1300 | Email | Website 

NetEqualizer 15 Year Anniversary, Celebrating Famous NetEqualizer Users


First off, before I get into trouble , I want to assure all of our customers that in no way do we actually know or have data on who has had their personal traffic pass through a NetEqualizer over the past 15 years. What we can surmise, with a degree of probability/speculation, based on many of the locations we are installed  is , who has likely seen their traffic pass through our device.  What follows is a list of  those likely candidates

Michael Phelps:   For many years we were the primary source of Bandwidth Control in the olympic training center in Colorado Springs where many of the Olympic Swim team would practice  prior to the Olympics.  Basically any olympic athlete that connected to the wireless network in the training center from 2006 through 200? had their traffic pass though a NetEqualizer

 

Donald Trump:  NetEqualizer products have been used in several Los Angeles/Hollywood production studios where taping and of popular television shows take place , after taping the raw cuts are sent from the studio’s for editing and distribution. Yes it is very likely the Apprentice was taped in a Studio where the NetEqualizer was the Primary bandwidth  control solution.

 

The Pope:  Not sure if the Pope uses the Internet when he visits the US embassy in the Vatican but yes we do have NetEqualizer installed in the Vatican

 

Jerry Jones:  We have a NetEqualizer handling the traffic in the AT&T stadium business and conference center. I suspect that Jerry has wondered into that section of the Building  on occasion

Mark Cuban:  I have exchanged e-mails with Mark on a few other idea’s  un related to NetEqualizer. In our office  all of our traffic pass through our local NetEqualizer , hence I know with certainty that our e-mail exchange went through a NetEqualizer!

 

Barack Obama:  Prior to becoming president Mr Obama visited the Green Zone in Afghanistan along with other members of congress. At the time we had several systems in the green zone ( basically little american cities for Military people stationed there) keeping their wifi up and running.  For non secure communications he would have been using the local wifi and thus passing through a NetEqualizer.

These are just a few instances where I could logically place  these celebrities in locations where active NetEqualizers were shaping traffic.  Of course, we have  had many thousands of units installed over the years and the possibilities   are  endless.    Tens  of millions of users have passed through our controllers over the years . From Resort Hotels, Sports Venues , Universities, Conferences Centers, Fortune 500 business, and many many Rural and small Town ISPs all have deployed our equipment. Hence the actual list of famous people who have stumbled through a NetEqualizer is likely much higher, stay tuned for more to come.

 

By Art Reisman CTO/ Co Founder NetEqualizer

 

 

though

Smart Bandwidth Shaping


The NetEqualizer Bandwidth shaper has always had the ability to shape a group of people (subnet) to a fixed bandwidth limit. In laymen terms what this means is that you can take a segment of a network and say something like “you guys are only going to get 50 megabits, and try as you might to use more than 50 megabits, you are capped, and won’t be able to go over 50 megabits”.

What has been often requested and not supported, until now, is the ability to selectively enforce the group/subnet bandwidth limit.  In laymen terms again, “I want to set a 50 megabit limit on those guys, but only have it enforced when my network is near peak utilization.  The rest of the time I want those guys to be able to have all available bandwidth.”

Why is this important ?

The best way to answer this question is with an example.

A typical customer for our legacy enforcement feature would be a company where different business units within the company are allocated fixed amounts of bandwidth.   From experience and feed back from our customers we know , most of the time, the company as a whole, has more than enough bandwidth in reserve to accommodate all the business units.  The fixed allocations are really only needed during peak times to make sure no single business unit crowds out the others in a free for all bandwidth grab.   Assuming the critical peak usage situation only happens once a week, or once a day for a few hours , the old fixed allocation scheme is forcing business units to use a limited amount of bandwidth during times when there is unused bandwidth just going to waste. With our new scheme, the intelligence of the NetEqualizer will only apply the fixed allocation during those moments when bandwidth is at a premium.  There is no need for an IT person to make time of day adjustments to maximize utilization , it is automatically done for them.

With our new “Pool Bursting feature”, coming out in July, customers’ wishes have been made a reality.  Enforcement of our pool/subnet bandwidth limits can now be specified as absolute (always enforced) or enforced only at times of peak congestion.

One word of caution though.   As with any dynamic need-based enforcement there may be some customer backlash.  For example, the customer that comes to expect high bandwidth during low utilization times may not be happy if the enforcement kicks in and they are all of sudden hit with a bandwidth cap.

Wireless ISPs Making a Comeback


Back in 2007, every small town in North America had at least one, if not two, wireless ISPs. We know, because many were our customers.  The NetEqualizer was an essential piece to their profitability.  Our optimization techniques allowed ISPs to extend their  bandwidth service to more customers, hence increasing their profitability.  And then came the great recession.  Even as consumers were squeezed,  many of these smaller wireless ISPs initially fared well, as their customers would never cancel their Internet service. One operator told me “Our customers will pay their Internet bill before their heating bill.  You can wear a coat to get warm but you cannot live without the Internet.”

Then came the death-blow of the Broadband Initiative, not a bad idea in principle, but as many government spending programs in the past,  it did not trickle down to the smaller businesses, nor was the initial spend self-sustaining.  Instead, big chunks of the new-found money went to entrenched large providers who had been ignoring investing in rural areas, or it went into new ventures, friends of friends, people who had expertise in the ISP arena, and their businesses eventually fizzled.   The net effect was that the smaller ISPs who had laid the ground work in these rural areas and had been expanding were stopped in their tracks, unable to compete against subsidized competition.

Today the wireless ISPs that weathered the storm are seeing a resurgence, bolstered by better technology, the failure of many Broadband Initiative projects, and consumers being squeezed by the high prices and poor service of the entrenched monopolies.

Every week we are hearing from our old wireless ISP customers ready to upgrade their equipment; some of them have not been in contact with us since 2011.   Stay tuned, this is an evolving story.

 

 

 

Some Musings on Virtual Machines


By Art Reisman

The other day, I sold a smart refrigerator  to a customer. When they found out it had a computer in it, and could be controlled remotely from the Internet, they asked me if they could run it on their Virtual Machine to save some space in the kitchen.  I told them, sure  we support that , they just need to get a-hold of  an  add-on compressor and a 40 foot cubic container module for their VM,  and we would just ship a plug-in application. There would be no need to ship any hardware to them, we have  a virtual refrigerator!

I purposely used that over the top analogy, to highlight,  the chill down my spine I feel, when I hear about vendors bundling their core network equipment into a VM.

Virtual machines make a lot of sense for somebody running a data center with 10 different servers and consolidating them into one box.   My underlying discomfort stems from the extension of  that mission onto equipment that is involved the real-time transport of your data.  Switches , routers , firewalls and bandwidth shapers.  Why do I feel this way? Am I just an old stubborn  engineer clinging to the old ways while the world passed me by?

Not really, we have set up virtual machines with our bandwidth shaper with success in our labs, it is actually pretty cool. My discomfort arises with the fact that bandwidth shapers are finely tuned, real-time devices, with software that must run at the core level of the computer’s operating system.  A bandwidth shaper must have absolute control of perhaps 4 ethernet/fiber ports or more and under no circumstances can it compete with  CPU resources should a server become overloaded.  The consequences of any resource contention are at best a slow internet, and at worst a complete lock up.   Yes I understand a in theory a modern VM can divvy up resources , but how do we ensure that it is done correctly ?   When we ship a standalone device running only our application we know  exactly what it is capable of,  and since we have thousands of identical configuration in the field,  we know that the technology configuration that leaves our factory dock is rock solid stable.

This is not to say we will never offer a virtual machine, we did have one customer where the logistics of their set up was so remote that the benefits of a virtual bandwidth  shaper on their standard configuration far outweighed the risks I mentioned above; but for the most part saving a few dollars on rack space and an extra piece of hardware are not worth the jeopardizing the stability of a critical piece of in-line equipment.

 

 

Technology Predictions for 2018+


By Art Reisman

CTO http://www.apconnections.net

Below are my predictions for technology in 2018 and beyond. As you will see some of them are fairly pragmatic, while others may stretch the imagination a little bit.

  1. Forget about drones delivering packages to your door; too many obstacles in densely populated areas. For example, I don’t want unmanned drones dangling 30 pound flower pots flying above my head in my neighborhood. One gust of wind and bam,  flower-pot comes hurtling out of the sky.  I don’t want it even if it is technically possible!  But what is feasible, and likely, are slow plodding autonomous robots that can carry a payload and navigate to your doorstep.   Not as sexy as zippy little drones, but this technology is fairly mature on factory floors already, and those robots don’t ask for much in return.
  2. As for Networking advancements, we may see a “Cloud” backlash where companies bring some of their technology back in-house to gain full control of their systems and data.  I am not predicting the Cloud won’t continue to be a big player, it will, but it may have a hiccup or two along the way.  My reasoning is simple, and it goes back to the days of the telephone when AT&T started offering a PBX in the sky.  The exact name for this service slips my mind.  It sounded great and had its advantages, but many companies opted to purchase their own customer premise PBX equipment, as they did not want a third-party operating such a critical piece of infrastructure.  The same might be said for private companies thinking about the Cloud.  They could make an argument that they need to secure their own data and also ensure uptime access to their data.
  3. More broadband wireless ISPs coming to your neighborhood as an alternative option for home Internet.  I have had my ear to the street for quite some time, and the ability to beam high-speed Internet to your house has come a long way in the last 10 years.  Also the distrust, bitterness, dare I say hatred, for the traditional large incumbents is always a factor. One friend of mine is making inroads in a major city right in the heart of downtown simply by word of mouth.  His speeds are competitive, his costs are lower, and his service cannot be matched by the entrenched incumbent.
  4. Lower automobile insurance rates.  The newer fleet of smart cars that automatically break for or completely avoid obstacles is going to reduce serious accidents by 50 percent or more in the near future.  Insurance payouts will drop and eventually this will be passed on to consumers.  Longer-term, as everyone on the road has autonomous driving cars, insurance will be analogous to a manufacturer’s warranty, and will be paid by the auto manufacturer.
  5. The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to explode, particularly in the smart home arena.  Home security has taken leaps & bounds in recent years, enabling a consumer to lock/unlock, view and manage their home remotely.  Now we are seeing IoT imbedded in more appliances, which will be able to be controlled remotely as well – so that you can run the dishwasher, washer, dryer, or oven from anywhere.
  6. Individual Biosensory data, like that collected by Garmin and Fitbit monitors, will be used by more companies and in more ways.  In 2018 my health insurance company is offering discounts for members that prove they use their gym memberships.  It is only a small leap to imagine a health insurance company asking for my biosensory data, to select my insurance group and to set my insurance rates.  As more people use fitness trackers and share their data (currently only with friends), it will become the norm to share this type of data, probably at first anonymously.  I can see a future where  health care providers and employers use this data to make decisions.

I will update soon as new ideas continue to pop into my head all the time.  Stay tuned!

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