Enterprise Networks are faced today with an insurmountable demand to keep up with new technologies. Live streaming, video uploads, employee-owned mobile devices and collaboration tools are contributing to network congestion. As per Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast and Methodology report, business IP traffic is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 21% from 2012 to 2017. This will be a faster growth rate than IP WAN (13%), but this is only a fraction of what is projected for mobile business growth rate of 59%.
So, what does this mean for business network administrators? It means an increase of usage can lead to networks that are congested and can’t scale, and frustrated end users who just want their applications to work quickly and get the job done. Usually what happens is administrators will try to solve the problem by adding bandwidth, accelerating network traffic, or cutting off access to applications believed to be causing the problem. Yes, adding bandwidth can resolve the problem, but it’s a short-term fix that creates two problems.
First problem it creates is continuous increase of IT budget and it isn’t sustainable. Second, increases in bandwidth demand have outpaced decreases in bandwidth cost. This is only putting a band-aid on the problem. In effect, network administrators are funding the increases in recreational traffic.
Another common approach is application acceleration. Some companies invest in solutions that accelerate everything on the network, including unwanted and unproductive recreational traffic. It’s just like adding bandwidth it treats all traffic the same. In other words companies are not only paying to accelerate business applications, but recreational applications as well.
So, to reduce network congestion you can try the following solutions.
- Look into the network
Find out which applications are in use, how much traffic is generated by each, and the relative priorities of these applications. You should try to identify high-traffic periods during the day or month, and whether some applications have special quality of service (QoS)
- Reduce traffic via caching
Cache frequently accessed Web objects so only new ones are downloaded. So, this can accumulate and slow down the overall bandwidth utilization. An example would be, patch bundles or applications that can be downloaded from an external site once, and subsequent accesses will benefit from proximity. Whether performed serially or in parallel, every hit adds up and can affect performance. A combination of browser caching, LAN caching and perimeter (proxy-based) caching will reduce wasteful repetition of data transfer.
- Don’t treat all business traffic the same
Categorize traffic into three buckets:
- Reputational: Items that would have a direct impact on current or future business.
- Revenue-affecting: Items that would prevent or decrease the amount or rate of income, whether based on sales or production.
- Mission-critical internal: Items that are necessary to support functions not purely customer-facing or profit-generating but that are needed or daily operations and ongoing business functions.
- Control Recreational traffic
Companies should place limits on recreational use of the company’s network during work hours. Regardless if a company’s Web policy allows personal and recreational use, or if incidental use is overlooked, non-business use of the network can become an unnecessary burden on the network.
- Time-shift your network
If a company uses a certain applications regularly why not create policies that reflect the usage of the application and shift resources to those applications. Analyze applications to create shifts and schedule changes if need be to free up the congestion in your network.
Of course these are only a few tips among many things that you can do to reduce congestion in your Network. What solutions do you use to help reduce congestion on your network?