How to Survive High Contention Ratios and Prevent Network Congestion


Is there a way to raise contention ratios without creating network congestion, thus allowing your network to service more users?

Yes there is.

First a little background on the terminology.

Congestion occurs when a shared network attempts to deliver more bandwidth to its users than is available. We typically think of an oversold/contended network with respect to ISPs and residential customers; but this condition also occurs within businesses, schools and any organization where more users are vying for bandwidth than is available.

 The term, contention ratio, is used in the industry as a way of determining just how oversold your network is.  A contention ratio is simply the size of an Internet trunk divided by the number of users. We normally think of Internet trunks in units of megabits. For example, 10 users sharing a one megabit trunk would have a 10-to- 1 contention ratio.
 A decade ago, a 10-to-1 contention ratio was common. Today, bandwidth is much less expensive and the average contention ratios have come down.  Unfortunately, as bandwidth costs have dropped, pressure on trunks has risen, as today’s applications require increasing amounts of bandwidth. The most common congestion symptom is  slow network response times.
Now back to our original question…
Is there a way to raise contention ratios without creating congestion, thus allowing your network to service more users?
This is where a smart bandwidth controller can help.  Back in the “old” days before encryption was king, most solutions involved classifying types of traffic, and restricting less important traffic based on customer preferences.   Classifying by type went away with encryption, which prevents traffic classifiers from seeing the specifics of what is traversing a network.  A modern bandwidth controller uses dynamic rules to restrict  traffic based on aberrant behavior.  Although this might seem less intuitive than specifically restricting traffic by type, it turns out to be just as reliable, not to mention simpler and more cost-effective to implement.
We have seen results where a customer can increase their user base by as much as 50 percent and still have decent response times for interactive  cloud applications.
To learn more, contact us, our engineering team is more than happy to go over your specific situation, to see if we can help you.

Three Myths About QoS and Your Internet Speed


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.

Myth #2:  QoS will enhance the speed of your internal network.

The speed of your local internal links are a fixed rate, they always run at maximum speed.  The only way applying QoS can make something “appear” to go faster is by restricting some traffic in favor of other traffic.  I constantly get asked by our customers  if we can make important traffic get through faster, and my follow on questions are always the same.

  1. Do you have a congestion problem now?
    If not, than there is no need for any form of QoS, because your data already moving as fast as possible.
  2. If you do have congestion, what traffic do you want me to degrade so that other traffic can run without congestion?

Myth #3:  There is nothing you can do to give priority to incoming traffic on your Internet.  

Wrong! Okay, so this sounds like it may be a contradiction to Myth #1, but there is a difference in how you ask this question.   Yes, it is true that the Internet does not care about your QoS desires and will never give preferential treatment to your traffic.  But, the sending service DOES care about whether the data being transmitting is being sent at the appropriate speed for the link you get, and you can take advantage of this.

All senders of data into your network are constantly monitoring the speed at which that traffic is getting to you.  Now, if you recall the very definition of QoS is restricting one type of traffic over another.  Let’s say for example that you have a very congested Internet link with many incoming downloads.  Let’s say one download is a iOS update, and the other one is your favorite streaming Netflix movie.  By delaying the iOS update packets at the edge of your network, the sender will sense this delay, and back off on the download. The result is that there is more bandwidth left over for your favorite Netflix , and hence you have attained a higher quality of service for your Netflix over the iOS download.  How this delay is implemented is another story.

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us.

NetEqualizer News: March 2017


We hope you enjoy this month’s NetEqualizer Newsletter. Highlights include an overview of more 8.5 Release features, a preview of our new website, and more!

 

  March 2017

 

8.5 Release – More Features!
Greetings! Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News.

Our 8.5 Release development is almost complete! This month we preview some of the new features for you, and also show
some of the new screens that our development team has been willing to share. Look for 8.5 to be available in early summer 2017!

Our wireless Internet Provider customers may be interested in our newly released Hidden Node White Paper. And we are experimenting with a new website design. We would love your feedback!

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:

:: 8.5 Release – Features Preview

:: NetEqualizer is a Hidden Node Solution

:: Under Construction – New Website?

:: Best of Blog: The Best Monitoring Tool for Your Network – May Not Be What You Think

8.5 Release – Features Preview

8.5 Release Additions – Continued from February…

In February, we talked about adding Real-Time Penalties to the RTR Dashboard, and adding Host Name from NSLookup to RTR Reports. This month we introduce several more features planned for 8.5:

1) Configuration Validation for Traffic Limits & P2P Limits

In order to make it easier for you to setup and configure your NetEqualizer, in 8.5 we are adding automated configuration validation to our toolset. In the first offering, we will automate the rules around defining traffic limits and P2P limits. As part of the installation process, when you send your diagnostic to Support, we will then run our configuration validation on your rule set. This will be particularly useful for customers that set up hundreds of traffic limiting rules.

2) Add Units to Active Connections Report

You can now select the units that you wish to see on the Active Connections Report. We currently show Active Connections in bytes/second (Bps), as this was aligned with how we used to show units in the configuration. However, in 8.5 we added the ability to select Configuration Units – the traditional Bytes per Second (Bps), or Megabits per second (Mbps), or Kilobits per second (Kbps). Now we are aligning Active Connections with those changes, by expanding our units selection to include Active Connections. See below for screenshots of this new feature.

In this example, as Megabits per second (Mbps) are selected, you can see that both Wavg (column 4) and Avg (column 5) are now shown in Mbps. Hopefully this will make it easier for you, as you can see your reports in Units that are meaningful to you:

As always, the 8.5 Release will be free to our customers with valid NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS) plans.

NetEqualizer is a Hidden Node Solution

 Read our Hidden Node White Paper

If you are an Wireless Internet Provider, and are challenged with Hidden Nodes in your network infrastructure, you may want to read our newly released Hidden Node White Paper, to see how the NetEqualizer resolves this issue.Of the numerous growing pains that can accompany the expansion of a wireless network, the issue of hidden nodes is one of the most difficult problems to solve. Despite best efforts, the communication breakdown between nodes can wreak havoc on a network, often leading to sub par performance and unhappy users. Many times, the cost of potential solutions appears to outweigh the benefits of expansion, which in some cases may not be a choice, but a necessity. Yet, hidden nodes are a problem that must be addressed and ultimately solved if a wireless network is to achieve successful growth and development.

To continue reading, view the full white paper here. Check it out!

Under Construction – New Website?

Website Design Alternative – Tell Us What You Think!

We are working with a design agency to put together new web pages. Our initial set of pages are ready. We picked a dark background, and aimed for an interface that aligned with today’s mobile platforms, as it is more scrollable, and trend towards less text/more pictures.

Before we switch over to use these pages across our entire platform (we are using for our Google Adwords leads now), we would love to get your feedback.

Please take a minute to look at the new pages, and then click on the feedback button to email us your thoughts. 
Click the above picture or this link to view the new design: http://netequalizer.com/fast/
What do you like? Dislike? Any recommendations for what we should change? And the big question – should we keep our current website or move to this?
Best Of Blog

The Best Monitoring Tool for Your Network – May Not Be What You Think

By Art Reisman

A common assumption in the IT world is that the starting point for any network congestion solution begins with a monitoring tool.  “We must first figure out what specific type of traffic is dominating our network, and then we’ll decide on the solution”.  This is a reasonable and rational approach for a one time problem. However, the source of network congestion can change daily, and it can be a different type of traffic or different user dominating your bandwidth each day…

Photo of the Month
Pipeline Swallowtail

This is a picture of a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly taken in Arizona in the high desert grasslands area over a recent spring break getaway. This butterfly can be found in a variety of habitats, but is most commonly found in forests.

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

How to Create and Send an Encrypted File With No NSA Backdoor


Below is a little routine I wrote to encrypt and decrypt a file.

This script is meant for encrypting text files and sending them privately through e-mail as an attachment.

Note: The author makes no claims about whether this encryption technique can be broken. It would not be easy.

Here is what you need to use this program.

  1. Mac or other computer that can run a perl script from the command line
  2. very basic knowledge of how to create and edit a file from the command line

Step One , cut and paste the code below into a file in your  (MAC) computer

You’ll also need this same program on any receiving computer where  you expect to be able to decrypt the file.

Create the text file you want to encrypt. I used the following and saved it off.

Dear  Mom,

I really hate my boss he is a real jerk, and I even think he reads my private out going e-mails by intercepting them. So I am using this encryption device to send you this message.

Dave the Paranoid

Here is how the process to encrypt and decrypt looks from my command line

I saved off my text to a file aptly named “file” into my working directory

I saved off the perl code below and put it  into an executable file called “test”

I then ran the encryption program.

MacBook-Air:~ root# ./test ./file ./n encrypt “you live in a tree”

./test is the perl program

./file is the input file with the text I want to encrypt

./n is the output file for the encrypted message, I could send this text file as an attachment to an e-mail , and the receiving users would need the same perl program and “key” to encrypt

encrypt is the directive to  the program to encrypt, the other option is decrypt to reverse the process

“you live in a tree”  

is my key. You can make it any text string of characters you want as long as you include it in quotes, the more random and the longer,  the harder it will be for somebody to break

I then reversed the process to decrypt the file ./n and store the results in file “x”

MacBook-Air:~ root# ./test ./n x decrypt “you live in a tree”

the cat command below prints the contents of the newly decrypted file x
MacBook-Air:~ root# cat x
Dear Mom,

I really hate my boss he is a real jerk, and I even think he reads my private out going e-mails, by intercepting them. So I am using this encryption device to send you this message.

Dave the Paranoid
MacBook-Air:~ root#

————–code starts below this line do not include this line————–

#! /usr/bin/perl
# encryption tool ARG1 input file name, ARG2 key,ARG3 output file name
$key=$ARGV[3];
if ( ! defined $ARGV[3] )
{
print ” encode infile outfile [encrypt|descrypt] key\n”;
exit 1;
}
open (INFILE, $ARGV[0] ) || die “open whitelist file $ARGV[0]”;
open( OUTFILE, ‘>’, $ARGV[1]) or die “Could not open file ‘$ARGV[1]”;
while ($string= )
{
chomp($string);
if ($ARGV[2] eq “encrypt”)
{
my @chars = split(“”, $string);
my @keychars=split(“”,$key);
$charsize= @chars;
$keysize=@keychars;
$n=0;
for ($i=0; $i < $charsize; $i++) { $num1=ord($chars[$i]); $num2 = ord ($keychars[$n]); $chars[$i] = ord($chars[$i]) + $num2; print OUTFILE “$chars[$i],”; $n=$n+1; if ( $n > ( $keysize -1) )
{
$n=0;
}
}
my ($str) = join “”,@chars;
print OUTFILE “\n”;
}
if ( $ARGV[2] eq “decrypt”)
{
#decrypt
$n=0;
my @chars = split(“,”, $string);
my @keychars=split(“”,$key);
$charsize= @chars;
$keysize=@keychars;
for ($i=0; $i < $charsize; $i++) { $num1=$chars[$i]; $num2=ord($keychars[$n]); $num3 = ($num1 – $num2); $chars[$i] = chr($num3); $n=$n+1; if ( $n > ( $keysize -1) )
{
$n=0;
}
}
my ($str) = join “”,@chars;
print OUTFILE “$str\n” ;
} # end decrypt

} # end while input line

NetEqualizer News: February 2017


We hope you enjoy this month’s NetEqualizer Newsletter. Highlights include 8.5 Release feature previews, a customer case study, an introduction to our 20 Gbps NetEqualizer unit, and more!

 

  February 2017

 

8.5 Release – Your Additions!
Greetings! Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News.

It is not quite spring here in Colorado. We are enjoying our typical mix of snowy days, followed by days of warmth (55-60 degrees) and sun. I must admit I am ready for warmer weather, and the spring bird migration (birding is a favorite hobby of mine). It seems like all of the U.S. is having unusual weather right now, especially California with their seemingly constant rain & flooding.

While we await for the arrival of spring, we are huddled down focused on building out the 8.5 Release. I am happy to say that our 8.5 development is now well underway. This month, we discuss additional features that we have planned for the 8.5 Release, including some that have come directly from customer input! We really do listen to your ideas, and appreciate all suggestions. We always are happy to hear from our long-time customers. This month, we share a Case Study on Hobart and William Smith Colleges, as they mark their 10 year anniversary with the NetEqualizer.

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:

:: 8.5 Release – Your Additions

:: 8.5 Release – Features Preview

:: Featured Case Study

:: 20 Gbps NetEqualizer

:: Best of Blog: Five Things to Know About Wireless Networks

8.5 Release – Your Additions

Here is what we added into the 8.5 Release – based on your feedback

We asked for input into our 8.5 Release and you responded with some great ideas – thank you!Here is what we selected for the 8.5 Release, based on three criteria:

1) popularity – how many customers recommended the feature,

2) impact – what we thought would provide the most value to all customers, and

3) alignment – what fit well with the code areas that we planned to work on for 8.5

These two features fit our criteria, and will be discussed in our Features Preview (below)

Active Connections Enhancements
&
DNS Name on RTR Reports

As you can see, your voice does count! So, please keep your suggestions coming. While we cannot guarantee that your specific feature will be built, we always incorporate them into our Features Request database, and then assess for each release.

8.5 Release – Features Preview

 8.5 Release Additions (continued from January)

In January, we talked about Pool-specific RATIO and HOGMIN, and retaining RTR State upon reboot. This month we introduce several more features planned for 8.5:

1) Active Connections Enhancements

Beginning with the 8.5 Release, the Active Connections page in RTR will show you which active connections are currently being equalized. This way, you can see in real-time which IPs are getting penalized on your network. We’ll highlight these connections in the table and allow you to sort based on them.

This suggestion came from one of our university customers!

2) Domain Name System Name (DNS) on RTR Reports

Beginning with the 8.5 Release, certain RTR reports will have a hostname mode that allows you to see the DNS name (hostname from nslookup), along with the IP address. If you have an internal naming system for your organization, this can be extremely valuable in identifying problem users or connections!

This suggestion came from our K-12, university, and business customers!

As always, the 8.5 Release will be free to our customers with valid NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS) plans.

Featured Case Study

Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Longtime customer Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) recently celebrated 10 years of solid service with the NetEqualizer to help manage their Internet connectivity.

We thought it would be great to share their experience in a Case Study. Derek Lustig, Director of Network and Systems Infrastructure, and his staff, graciously agreed to help put this together with us. Thank you Derek, Christopher, and Christina for sharing your insights!

Here are some excerpts from the Case Study…

…HWS implemented the NetEqualizer solution based on its stellar reputation in the education space as well as its value, which is difficult to match in competing products….

…The NetEqualizer has been a great solution because it is extremely easy to maintain, and – when needed – it just works, says Derek Lustig of HWS.

You can click on the PDF picture to read the full Case Study, or click here to see all our Higher Education testimonials.

20 Gbps NetEqualizer

Our new high-bandwidth unit…

We are currently testing a high-end NetEqualizer with 20Gbps optics, and we have some good news! Our results have shown that we can push close to 15 Gbps with a full load (provided by our shaping simulator courtesy of Candela Technologies). If you plan to be pushing beyond 10 Gpbs in 2017 or 2018, let us know. We would love to talk to you!

If you would like to participate in a trial, let us know that as well.

We will be looking to trial our latest creation under real world conditions later this year.

contact_us_box

Best Of Blog

Five Things to Know About Wireless Networks

By Art Reisman

Over the last year or so, when the work day is done, I often find myself talking shop with several peers of mine who run wireless networking companies. These are the guys in the trenches. They spend their days installing wireless infrastructure in apartment buildings, hotels, and professional sports arenas to name just a few. Below I share a few tidbits intended to provide a high level picture for anybody thinking about building their own wireless network…

Photo of the Month
Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro is an amazing cactus that can only be found in a very specific climate found in Arizona, California, and Mexico. The cactuses can live to be 150 years old, and are protected by governments that oversee this land. If you are ever in the area, they are worth checking out! The one in this picture has seen better days.

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

Pros and Cons of Using a Reseller for Networking Equipment


There are various advantages  for using a reseller when purchasing networking equipment.  There are also benefits to buying direct from the Manufacturer. Below we detail those trade-offs with some intelligent introspection.

 

Reseller: Logistics, the reseller holds local stock, and takes care of taxes, tariffs, currency fluctuation in your region.

Within the US and Canada  and other common trading partners, there may be no logistical advantage for ordering from a reseller over  a direct purchase; however if you are in a remote country where most products must be imported it is almost  a necessity. Some countries have less than above-board customs,  and taxation rules, dare I say bribes. In these cases,  a  local reseller who specializes in local corruption etiquette is a necessity .

Reseller: Local Support, easy to reach technical support in your time zone, training, returns, and trials.

A well-trained reseller who  exclusively  handles the product you are purchasing is essentially an extension of the Manufacturer. Think of Automobiles. This complex and expensive product to support, could not exist without a large dealer network. In the world of Networking equipment , some things are becoming  more of a  commodity , routers  ,firewalls, and thus, diminishing the need for a reseller. Buying through a channel and the associated mark up may not be worth the added value ,especially if the manufacturer  offers good direct support , and an overnight replacement policy.

Reseller: Pre Sale Product Knowledge, a good reseller will educate and explain options for the products they represent.

The potential downside here is that often the Reseller is motivated by the Equipment they give them better OEM incentives to sell, hence if they are selling more than one product line, they may actually downplay one over the other.

Reseller: Representation to the manufacturer , for new features, re-calls

The reseller often times can carry clout to represent you back to the Manufacturer since they represent many sales , they can be very  beneficial if you have a problem that needs to be resolved by the manufacturer .

Reseller:  Requirements for competitive bid, or government contract dictating approved venders

Companies that provide this type service are generally puppets set up by a government agency , often out of political need to create jobs.  If you work for a government agency that forces you to buy through an approved reseller , you are likely well aware of the game.

Reseller and Manufacturer: Personal Relationships

Having  a trusting relationship with the person you purchase equipment from is the tried and true way of doing business in many industries, and often these relationships trump all other factors.  I personally try not buy based on relationships because I feel it is a disservice to my employer, hence I keep them at arm’s length.

Manufacturer: Price Price Price

Buying direct from the Manufacturer should give a major price break. Any product purchased through a reseller channel is going to add a minimum 35 percent to the direct price and often even double or even  triple, depending upon the product and number of hops in the channel. OEMs and channels partners have had a love hate relationship since perhaps biblical times. As mentioned above, personal relationships are the key to most sales in many industries,  and for this  reason  manufacturers must rely on a local sales partner. On top of that, there are also agreements that manufactures sign so as not to undercut the local reseller price, hence the end customer has no choice but to purchase through a reseller. For many traditional products. However new companies  coming on the market are often going direct to get a pricing advantage, after you talk to your reseller for a product  be sure and do some research on your own and look for similar products sold direct, the price difference could be significant.

Manufacturer:Support

Why is it that Cisco’s best customers  are provided with direct engineering support?  The answer is simple, because it is better.  If you can get direct support take it.  I’ll leave it at that.

For Profit Wired Home Internet, is it Coming to an End?


mob

Low resolution ghost mode is where your video quality drops down to save bandwidth.  The resulting effect transforms once proud basketball players into a slurry of mush, as their video molecules are systematically destroyed.”

Last night, I was trying to watch a basketball game on my Hulu through my Business class Comcast line, which promises 20 meg down and 4 meg up.  Not only was my Hulu feed breaking up periodically, but my Drop Cam was going up and down constantly, and sending me emails that it was offline.  I checked my bandwidth through my NetEqualizer to find that I was not even pulling 6 megabits, less than 1/3 my contracted rate.   When  Hulu was not locking up completely, it was dropping down into low resolution ghost mode.  I have documented my Comcast findings before through various experiments. Clearly, Comcast has upstream congestion issues or is shaping selected video traffic. Either way I am at their mercy when trying to watch video on the Internet.

What options does one have for alternative Internet service in the Denver Metro area, or for that matter other Metro Areas around the country?

Option #1 Get Closer to the Source

Beam Internet directly via Microwave Link from a hot building. A friend of mine runs an ISP that does essentially this.  He buys large bulk bandwidth and from a point of presence rooftop downtown, he can beam internet via  point-to-point circuit, directly to your residence or building.  I called him out of desperation but I am not in line of sight for any of his services.

Option #2  Century Link

They constantly run commercials touting they are better than Comcast. I call them perhaps once a year or so, only to find out that my neighborhood is not wired for their high speed service.

Option #3  Use my unlimited T-Mobile as a Hot Spot 

Believe it or not, I actually did this for a while,  and the video service was a bit better than Comcast. The problem with this solution is that T-Mobile will drop your speeds down once you have consumed 24 Gigabytes in a month, and it will become useless for anything other than email.    (24 Gigabytes would be approximately 4 full length movies).

Option #4 Move

The city just to the North of me , Longmont, put in it’s own fiber ring to the curb. Early reports are that it works great, and that the residents love it. Since it is essentially a public utility,  there are no shaping games destroying your Hulu.  If you contract for 20 megabits, you get 20 megabits. And now the city of Boulder is considering doing the same.

With two nearby cities essentially kicking out their entrenched providers within a few miles of my home, I can see other municipalities quickly following suit.  Having good quality, affordable municipal Internet service is not just a luxury for a city, it is essential for economic development.  As I can attest, it will be a factor in where I choose to live the next time I move. I will not put myself at the mercy of Comcast again.

By Art Reisman

 

 

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