• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Why traffic management will soon be a must

Oct 28, 20033 mins

* Plan ahead for upcoming performance challenges

We believe that traffic management will soon become mandatory in many large organizations, particularly at the WAN edge.

This is where there is often a dramatic downshift in network capacity, so congestion is most likely to occur here. And the network edge is the doorway into the comparatively volatile WAN environment, where unpredictable network conditions can degrade application performance.

Many trends are driving enterprises to control traffic flows in converged WAN environments so that all applications perform well. We’ll discuss two this time: music downloads and streaming media. 

An estimated 35 million adult Americans download music each month, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  Hmm…might any of that traffic be sneaking onto your network? If so, would you care to control its impact on, say, your ERP and CRM application performance?

If you’re unconvinced, be forewarned: Apple and Pepsi are running a big promo from Feb. 1, 2004 – March 31, 2004. Apple will give away 100 million free songs as music downloads from its iTunes Music Store to consumers who find special codes imprinted on their soft-drink bottles. Undoubtedly, some users will want to tap into the iTunes site on company time, during the promo and long after.

But your network doesn’t have to suffer. Makers of QoS appliances – among them, Packeteer andAllot Communications – provide ways to “discover” and tame iTunes traffic (along with hundreds of other applications).  Packeteer discovers Mac and PC iTunes versions. Allot discovers the Mac version and says it will recognize the PC version in the first quarter of 2004.

Using these capabilities, you can apportion a maximum amount of bandwidth that can be consumed by iTunes (or block the application entirely), so frivolous traffic doesn’t clobber your primary business applications. You might also opt to put a general ceiling on RealMedia traffic you allow on your overall network.

Doing this would limit other network usage that is non-business-related in most organizations, such as users watching streaming Internet coverage of the summer Olympics in Athens, the 2004 presidential election and any number of other live events that hog bandwidth from legit business applications.

One final related note: If you are attending the Next-Generation Networks show in Boston next week, feel free to attend a short talk by Joanie on “Traffic Management” Tuesday, Nov. 4 from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. in the Simmons Room of the Marriott Copley Place Hotel.

Also, if you would like a complimentary pass to the exhibition and any vendor-sponsored sessions, please fax your request with name, address and phone to 952-944-3555 by Oct. 28.