• United States

Q&A: Allot exec predicts new demands for QoS

Aug 25, 20045 mins
Internet Service ProvidersNetworking

* Trends in QoS systems deployment

Allot Communications provides IP-based traffic management systems to ISPs and enterprises that want to optimize network bandwidth and support differentiated classes of service. In business since 1997, the Israel company has shipped more than 10,000 systems to such heavy hitters as Verizon, British Telecom, Lowes and Starbucks.

I recently interviewed Azi Ronen, executive vice president of technology and marketing with Allot, about the trends he is seeing in the deployment of QoS systems. Here are excerpts from our telephone conversation:

Q. What new features or capabilities are you adding to your products?

In the enterprise world, there is a constant effort to improve and add support for more protocols and more sophistication in the way we analyze protocols. One big example of this is in the area of peer-to-peer traffic. The ever-changing peer-to-peer environment requires us to assign a team of people to follow the peer-to-peer world and see all of the new changes, such as the recent decrease in Kazaa traffic and the increase in BitTorrent traffic. We have to follow these trends and adapt to them.

We used to analyze peer-to-peer traffic using TCP headers and later application signatures, but now with some protocols this is not enough. Some applications use encryption, and you need more sophisticated ways to understand that a certain application is [peer-to-peer traffic].

The other aspect of advancement is in traffic monitoring and reporting. It turns out that many customers are using our systems not only for QoS or traffic management, but to understand what’s going on in their networks. You can’t really assign a policy to manage your traffic if you don’t understand what traffic is on your network. For that we provide real-time monitoring and longer-term historical analysis. We have over 100 graphs that allow you to understand what the applications are up to Layer 7 and understand who are the top users.

Q. What trends are you seeing among your enterprise customers?

One trend that we see is [Multi-protocol Label Switching]. We see more and more enterprise networks using MPLS services from their carriers. MPLS replaces the older frame relay infrastructures. We do not yet see the carriers taking advantage of the lower levels of granularity of MPLS. Customers might be able to get differentiation between voice and data from the carrier, but they can’t get differentiation between particular data applications.

Q. How about your ISP customers? What trends are you seeing there?

Smaller providers – those that don’t have their own backbones – want to reduce their operating costs. They’re doing this mostly by reducing the bandwidth available for peer-to-peer applications. Or they offer service plans that provide a certain amount of peer-to-peer traffic to subscribers.

We see both DSL and cable carriers wanting to deploy a service control environment to a much higher granularity. The goal is to generate more revenue and to increase the average revenue per user. One of the examples is what [carriers] call a service boost, which is the ability of the subscriber to click on a button and get additional bandwidth for a short period of time to, say, watch a movie. If [the user] does that two or three times during the month, the carrier gets incremental revenues from that.

Carriers are also interested in quota-based accounting. We see some ISPs with policies that say subscribers may download all the peer-to-peer material as they wish but uploading is limited. Other ISPs are watching how much traffic subscribers can initiate so they can control or stop denial of service attacks. All of these new services stem from traffic monitoring and understanding what’s going on in your networks.

Q. What impact will VoIP have on the demand for traffic management products in enterprise and ISP networks?

In the enterprise, we believe that more and more organizations will be implementing converged networks of data and voice. They’re going to need some kind of control equipment to ensure that the VoIP quality will be similar to what they expect to have in the PSTN or a separate dedicated VoIP network.

On the service provider side, we see the desire for cable operators and others to prioritize their own VoIP services over alternative services. They don’t like to see people using the VoIP services of other providers that anyone can use without a special configuration. The recent introduction of a PC-to-phone service by Skype may be the first time that a general Internet solution is considered by many service providers as a threat to their own services.

What DSL and cable operators will do about these VoIP services I can’t really say. But the basic requirement is for equipment to be able to classify traffic like Skype or Vonage and have billing mechanisms or QoS mechanisms do something about them. I have no idea about the legality of this issue, but we do see ISPs thinking about this issue and asking about our equipment.

Q. What can I expect to see from Allot during the rest of this year?

You will see higher capacity. We will continue the trend that we started at the gigabit level. You will see more centralized management capabilities. That’s really all I can say now.

Go to to learn more about Allot.