One of the biggest headaches for a company’s network managers is verifying that contracted service levels are being met for their infrastructure. Carrier services usually include a series of contractual points which are summarized in service level agreements (SLAs). To determine whether a service meets expected quality standards, the customer and carrier will use the metrics stated in the SLAs as parameters for measurement.
Wi-Fi technology, on the whole, uses 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum divided into a series of channels, over which information flows (like traffic on a freeway). Channel distribution is regulated by legal standards (set up by the USA, Europe, Japan, etc.) to guarantee interoperability between devices emitting waves and prevent interference with others. (more…)
Customer branch offices frequently find themselves with limited resources for WAN connectivity, this being a common problem associated to communications. WAN optimization under these circumstances makes sense, as the rise in productivity results in improved end customer perception.
Through different techniques, optimization reduces both infrastructure and bandwidth costs, allows for centralized services and simplifies periodic traffic congestion management over WAN.
The most common WAN optimization solutions are compression, caching or improving TCP efficiency. These are usually implemented in two parts: using a remote hardware/software module at the branch office and a second module, correctly dimensioned, at the head office. By adding an intelligence layer, we achieve efficient management and monitoring of said system and, consequently, a functioning multi-office environment.
These solutions typically need specific components only dedicated to optimization, which come at a significant cost per office.
One of the most popular optimization options, given its simplicity and because it only draws from the resources of a remote office, tends to be a webcache service (since any analysis or characterizing of branch traffic almost always shows that the web uses a large percent of the available bandwidth).
Integrated optimization and communications
Currently, the market offers products that can equally execute said applications and act as the office communications router.
Both the core routing and the applications use device hardware, assigning or reserving resources for each purpose, and the whole is integrally managed from a single tool, which not only controls connectivity but also manages the application life cycles: installation, configuring, monitoring, updating, etc.
An alternative (in branches) is to separate the optimizing services from communications, which results in the need for different hardware with the additional drawback of increasing operation costs. This option can really only be justified where bandwidth availability takes the highest priority.
First optimization solution: Webcache
A webcache captures internet traffic requests, forwards them, and stores a local copy of the received response. This latter information is then readily available to the users.
You may think that local branch users would have different information requirements. While this may be true in some cases, on the whole a group of users tends to repeatedly ask for the same data and at different times. Consequently, the webcache service can represent an important saving in bandwidth within sectors such as banking, legal services, insurance companies, education, etc.
The resulting saving of bandwidth means other critical services can now use the available WAN resources for more than just applying QoS policies. In addition to the reduced traffic over WAN, saving bandwidth accelerates information availability and allows for the implementation of traffic filtering and prioritization policies.
While it’s obvious that embedded webcache software in communication devices does compete, to a certain extent, with dedicated hardware products and is not designed for a high volume of data (or even for a high number of users), there is no doubt it is both an economic and flexible solution, which customers should bear in mind for their small and medium sized offices, as frequently it only implies the purchase of application licenses.
Other optimization options
Once in the world of optimization through embedded applications, it’s easy to add additional product licenses for branch use, which further increase bandwidth saving. For instance:
–Video broadcasting applications: by concentrating local requests into a single petition, streaming the video traffic from different clients to the WAN and dividing the necessary bandwidth by n, you can remotely attend a presentation or a corporate event.
–File server application: this behaves as an NAS for branch users. The content from said NAS can be easily programmed to download during periods of WAN inactivity, such as weekends and at night.
–Bootserver application: this boots the network stations and provides both the operating system and appropriate configuration for startup.
To wrap up…
The world of WAN optimization, essential for availability, is far from irrelevant as, together with the increasing frequency of high speed lines, it’s fast becoming a critical need for branch offices to offer additional and crucial services to their clients.
Teldat has all the essential solutions for these scenarios, and continually offers innovate and more flexible products with greater processing capacity to meet all customer needs now and for the future.
Schemes to change network infrastructure should always be linked to improving user perception on the quality of the service received. Prior to starting such a project, there are both technical and commercial proposal phases and evaluations that require approval.
Once this has been achieved, the main stages are:
- Operation and management.
- The break down or transition of the network to a new project.
The deployment stage is where operations involving startup/installation of devices are carried out; the end result being the contracted service. This project stage is where:
1. The agreed service deadlines and delivery must be met.
2. Tools, simplifying the foreseeable mass configuration tasks, must be available.
3. A team of specialists must oversee the installation of devices, at a previously agreed location.
4. Validation of the entire startup process, so the project site can move onto the operation stage.
This list, although stating the obvious, makes the network deployment stage one of the most intense and problematic parts of a new scheme. It implies the additional costs, not inconsiderable, of contracting external services.
Generally speaking, the service supplier, or carrier, offers their clients an all-inclusive package with the best possible service/price ratio. They are expected to choose device manufacturers who, not only fulfil the technological and economical side, but who also help keep costs down when actually deploying the network.
One of the most vital components for net deployment is a Zero Touch Installation service for participating devices. This means that service startup, on location, must include the following:
- The client must receive a device, on site, with a basic connection guide (similar to the autoinstallation of home services such as ADSL/FTTH). The client can then simply connect his device, following the basic guide, and switch it on.
- The autoconfiguration process initiates: the device downloads its individual settings, from a control center, and subsequently activates them to provide the contracted service.
- From the control center, the state and availability of said services are detected (validating the whole process).
Having autoconfiguration available during deployment and the use of pre-validated templates reduces the costs of installation by optimizing deadlines and minimizing configuration error rates.
Not only are there advantages at this stage – maintenance operations are notably optimized – but an office with an out of service device only needs a new router to be sent in order to resume business. The rest of the configuration, the recovery of stored data, etc., is almost automatically executed through management tools. This facility both optimizes SLAs and avoids penalization.
In short, autoconfiguration, throughout network deployment, becomes a very relevant aspect and should always be included in the manufacturers’ commercial offer. Not only because this represents an enormous improvement in their products, but also because they can then offer tools, through their sales network, to reduce the global cost of the project and increase the perception of quality of service for their clients.
Teldat fully understands this concept and incorporates their software tool, the Colibrí NetManager, to manage networks. This, in addition to other unified tools and together with their WLAN and access routers, provides optimum solutions for schemes, wherever their clients require them.
Please visit our blogs, or our webpage, for further information on our Colibrí NetManager management tool.
In my previous article on “Positioning systems and mobility management I” looked at the Wi-Fi infrastructure solution within a given area.
The location of a client carrying a Wi-Fi-enabled device could be estimated based on the information received from several APs about a client’s proximity. The client didn’t even have to connect to the network, just having the interface turned on was enough.