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!

How to best use your 100 megabit Internet Pipe


In a previous article we made the following statement.

“ISPs are now promising 100 megabit per second consumer  service , and are betting on the fact that most consumers will only use a fraction of that at any given time.  In other words, they have oversold their capacity without backlash.  In the unlikely event that all their customers tried to pull their max bandwidth at one time, there would be extreme gridlock, but the probability of this happening is almost zero. “

So I ask the question  , what would it take to make full use of your 100 megabit pipe ?

A typical  streamed movie consumes about 4 megabits, So you would need to watch 25 Netflix movies at once all day every day to fully utilize your pipe.  Obviously watching 25 movies at once all day every day is not very practical, you’d need multiple Netflix Accounts and 25 devices to watch them on.

Big files:  A 100 Gigabyte file, that’s a good size download for a consumer right?   Well, that would take approximately 4 minutes  to download on a 100 megabit pipe, and then you’d have to find another one.

For convenience  maybe you could find   a 1,000 Gigabyte file? That would take  only 40 minutes, so you are still kind of left with a good deal of spare pipe  for most of the day.  How about a 10,000 Gigabyte file  (10 Tera Bytes ) , that would take 400 minutes.   By my calculations, in order to make use of  your 100 megabit  pipe completely for 24 hours , you would need to download a 40 Terabyte file?

Where could you find such a file?

I did some poking around and there are a couple of sites that have gigantic files for no particular reason , but the only practical file with a reason to download  was this one:

 

“Some time ago I was interested in creating custom maps of the Earth, and I realized that the data files needed for this are pretty large; and the more zoom you want, the larger are the data files.

OpenStreetMap has a huge file of the Earth which is 82GB compressed and around 1TB uncompressed according to the OSM wiki, and it will become larger. You can find it updated here.”

So this very large file that maps the entire earth is 82 Gig in compressed form for download, a tiny fraction of the full 40 terabytes  you would need to download in one day to fill up your pipe.

What is the moral of the story ?

Internet providers can safely offer 100 megabit pipes full well knowing,  that  even their heaviest users are likely not going to average  more than 5 megabits  sustained over a long time period.  You would actually have to be maliciously downloading ridiculously sized files all day every day to use your full pipe.

Gmail Gone AWOL


By Art Reisman

CTO http://www.netequalizer.com

 

I have  a confession to make. Even though we have a corporate e-mail server at my company, I have been using Gmail for my primary business e-mail going back to 2002.  I  love the ability to search old records and conversations from the past.   With Google’s technology , searching gmail was second to none. Sometimes , I searched just for nostalgia  purposes, like the final e-mail conversation I had wih my Mom when my dad was taken off dialysis in hospice, and sometimes for business reasons.   Unfortunately my world has recently been shattered.   All my e-mail prior to 2008 is completely gone, and I have searched far and wide for a policy from Gmail that might explain why.  I pay a monthly fee for google storage and was well below my limit, I have tried their support forums and so far  just silence. If you are a long time e-mail users I suggest you try to search  your archives.  Ten years seems to be the cut off where things got dumped or lost.

 

And no ,  have not been corresponding with any Russian operatives!

NetEqualizer News: December 2017


We hope you enjoy this month’s NetEqualizer Newsletter. Highlights include a preview of 8.6 Release features, details on our leasing program, and more!

 

December 2017

 

8.6 Release is underway!
Greetings! Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News.

The holidays are in full swing here in Colorado. We just celebrated Thanksgiving last week, and all ate turkey or tofurkey until we could no longer move! Although according to the media, it felt like we were all celebrating Black Friday and Cyber Monday…

In this month’s newsletter, we start discussing our ideas for the 8.6 Release. Release planning is underway, and we are targeting mid-2018 at this point. Read on to learn more. And it is not too late to contribute your suggestions – see how to add your suggestions below.
In this month’s newsletter we also discuss our NetEqualizer Leasing program, along with our ever-popular Best of Blog article.

We will be updating the User Guide to 8.5 shortly, look to hear more in an upcoming newsletter.

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. 

And remember we are now on Twitter. You can follow us @NetEqualizer.

– Art Reisman (CTO)

In this Issue:

:: What’s Next – 8.6 Release Planning Begins

:: Lease a NetEqualizer

:: Thank You!

:: Best of Blog: Cloud Computing Creates Demand for Bandwidth Shaping

What’s Next – 8.6 Release Planning Begins

We are working on exciting new features!

Starting in early 2018, we’ll begin development on the 8.6 Release for NetEqualizer. The 8.5 Release has been a big success, and with 8.6 we hope to expand on some of the major 8.5 changes to make them even better.

While we are still finalizing our list of features, here are a few that we are focusing on…

Beginning with the 8.5 Release, DNS names were brought into the mix in our Active Connections table:

As of our 8.5 Release, you can see activity for both IP addresses and DNS hostnames, allowing you to gain more insight into who is doing what on your network. For 8.6, we want to expand on this in two major ways:

1) Create and provide a GUI for a list of standard DNS domains that you can click on to automatically track in our reports. Many customers are interested in traffic from a common set of domains. We plan to provide these in a useful format so that you can easily track data associated with them.

2) Shaping by DNS name. Beginning with the 8.6 Release, not only will you be able to track connections by DNS name, but you’ll be able to shape by DNS name too! This is an exciting addition to our standard IP address-based configuration and rules.

We are also working on a 20Gbps NetEqualizer. As your networks continue to grow, we are right there with you to protect your investment in the NetEqualizer. As our 10Gbps customers start moving to larger networks, we will be ready with the 20Gbps unit.

We’ll keep you posted in coming Newsletters about the 8.6 Release and how it’s progressing. Stay tuned!

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!

Lease a NetEqualizer

Have you considered a Lease?

If you have always wanted to try the NetEqualizer in your environment, but have had trouble figuring out how to budget for it upfront, our popular NetEqualizer Leasing Program may be right for you! 

Under the NetEqualizer Leasing Program, you can get a NetEqualizer sized for your network installed today, for a 1st month and last month deposit, along with a $200 set-up fee. Then going forward, just pay a simple monthly lease fee, which covers support, software upgrades, and hardware warranty.

If this sounds like a good fit for you, contact us to discuss further or read more about our Lease Program here.

Thank You!

With the holiday season in full swing, we want to pause for a moment to thank you, our valued customers, for your loyalty in 2017 and beyond. THANK YOU! 

We here at APconnections truly appreciate your business. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you succeed, by keeping your networks running smoothly.

With your support, we look forward to continued success in 2018!

Best Of Blog

Cloud Computing Creates Demand for Bandwidth Shaping

By Art Reisman
The rise of cloud computing has been a mixed bag for the bottom line of traditional network hardware manufacturers. Yes, there is business to be had by supplying the burgeoning cloud service providers with new hardware; however, as companies move their applications into the cloud, the elaborate WAN networks of yesteryear are slowly being phased out. The result is a decrease in sales of routers and switches, a dagger in the heart of the very growth engine that gave rise to the likes of Cisco, Juniper, and Adtran.From a business perspective, we are pleasantly surprised to see an uptick in demand in the latter half of 2017 for bandwidth shapers. We expect this to continue on into 2018 and beyond…

Photo of the Month
Enjoying a Fall Hike

All across the United States, old abandoned railroad beds are being turned into recreational trails, typically used for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.  On a recent visit to western New York, I was lucky to spend a sunny day in late autumn hiking on one of the converted trails.

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

Cloud Computing Creates Demand For Bandwidth Shaping


image1-3The rise of cloud computing has been a mixed bag for the bottom line of traditional network hardware manufacturers.  Yes, there is business to be had by supplying the burgeoning cloud service providers with new hardware; however, as companies move their applications into the cloud, the elaborate WAN networks of yesteryear are slowly being phased out. The result is a decrease in sales of routers and switches, a dagger in the heart of the very growth engine that gave rise to the likes of Cisco, Juniper, and Adtran.

From a business perspective, we are pleasantly surprised to see an uptick in demand in the latter half of 2017 for bandwidth shapers.  We expect this to continue on into 2018 and beyond.

Why are bandwidth shapers seeing an uptick in interest?
Prior to the rise of cloud computing , companies required large internal LAN network pipes, with relatively small connections to the Internet.  As services move to the Cloud, the data that formerly traversed the local LAN is now being funneled out of the building through the pipe leading to the Internet.   For the most part, companies realize this extra burden on their Internet connection and take action by buying more bandwidth. Purchasing bandwidth makes sense in markets where bandwidth is cheap, but is not always possible.

Companies are realizing they cannot afford to have gridlock into their Cloud.  Network administrators understand that at any time an unanticipated spike in bandwidth demand could overwhelm their cloud connection.  The ramifications of clogged cloud connections could be catastrophic to their business, especially as more business is performed online.  Hence, we are getting preemptive inquiries about ensuring their cloud service will prioritize critical services across their Internet connection with a smart bandwidth shaper.

We are also getting inquiries from businesses that have fallen behind and are unable to upgrade their Internet pipe fast enough to keep up with Cloud demand.   This cyclical pattern of upgrading/running out of bandwidth can be tempered by using a bandwidth shaper.  As your network peaks, your bandwidth shaper can ensure that available resources are shared optimally, until you upgrade and have more bandwidth available.

Although moving to the Cloud seems to introduce a new paradigm, from the world of network optimization, the challenges are the same.  Over the years we have always recommended a two-prong approach to optimization: 1) adequate bandwidth, and 2) bandwidth shaping.  The reason for our recommendation continues to be the same.  With bandwidth shaping, you are ensuring that you are best-positioned to handle peak traffic on your network.  And now, more than ever, as business goes “online” and into the Cloud, and both your employees and your customers are on your network, bandwidth shaping is a prudent insurance policy to providing a great experience on your network.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: