By Art Reisman
In tight times expanding your corporate Internet pipe is a hard pill to swallow, especially when your instincts tell you the core business should be able to live within the current allotment.
Here are some tips and hard facts that you you may want to consider to help stretch your business Internet pipe
1) Layer 7 application shaping.
The market place is crawling with solutions that allow you to set policies on bandwidth based on type of application. Application shaping allows an administrator to restrict lower priority activities, while allowing mission critical Apps favorable consideration. This methodology is very seductive , but from our experience it can send your IT department into a nanny state, constantly trying to figure out what to allow and what to restrict. Also the cost of an Internet link expansion is dropping, while many of the application shaping solutions start around $10,000 and go up from there.
The up side is Layer 7 application shaping does work well when it comes to internal WAN links that do not carry Internet traffic. An administrator can get a handle on the fixed traffic running privately within their network quite easily.
2) Using your router to restrict specific IP and ports
If your core business utilization can be isolated to a single server or group of servers a few simple rules to allocate a large chunk of the pipe to these resources (by IP address) may be a good fit.
In an environment where business priorities change and are not isolated to a fixed server or two, this solution can backfire, but if your resource allocation requirements are stable doing something on your router to restrict one particular subnet over another can be useful in stretching your bandwidth.
One thing to be careful is that it often takes a skilled technician to set up specialty rules on your router. You can easilyu rack up $$ to your IT consultants if your set up is not static.
3) Behavior based shaping
Editors note: We are the makers of the NetEqualizer which specializes in this technology; however our intent in this article is to be objective.
Behavior based shaping works well and affordably in most situations. Most business related applications will get priority as they tend to use small amounts of data or web pages. Occasionally there are exceptions that need to override the basic behavior based shaping such as video. Video can easily be excluded from the generic policies. Implementing a few exclusions is far less cumbersome than trying to classify all traffic all the time such as with application shaping.
4) Add more bandwidth and by pass your local loop carrier
T1’s and T3’s from your local telco may not be the only options for bandwidth in your area. Many of our customers get creative by purchasing bandwidth directly from a tier one provider (such as Level 3) and then using a Microwave back haul the bandwidth to their location. The Telco’s make a killing with what they call a loop charge (before they put any bandwidth on your line) With Microwave backhaul technology you can by-pass this charge for significant savings.
5) Clean up the laptops and computers on your network. Many robots and viruses run in the background on your windows machines and can generate a cacophony of back ground traffic. A business wide license for good virus protection may be worth the investment. Stay away from the free ware versions of virus protection they tend to miss quite a bit.