Increase Your Business Bandwidth Ideas on how you can improve the performance of your current WAN connection and cost effectively increase bandwidth when needed
By: John Shepler
Are you close to maxing out your WAN bandwidth? Has it gotten so bad that you occasionally experience network congestion at the worst time of all... during peak business hours? Well, don’t panic. Here are some ideas that can improve that situation.
Manage Quality of Service
First of all, are you using your network in the most efficient manner? In other words, do you just let every device launch its packets and hope for the best, or do you manage quality of service. If the problem is VoIP telephone conversations breaking up but everything else seems fine, then giving voice packets the priority they need will probably improve that situation without bringing every other process to its knees.
Schedule Large Transfers After Hours
Similarly, if you’re trying to do backups over the network to a remote site during working hours you could be hurting employee productivity. Make the backup process low priority or try to run those processes overnight when they’ll have the network all to themselves.
Oh, you’ve done all that? You’ve fine tuned both the LAN and WAN as much as you can and you’re still running out of bandwidth. OK. That’s going to happen to everyone sooner or later. There are a couple of ways to go next.
Accelerate Your WAN
One technical solution is to accelerate your WAN, usually the weak link in the system, with a hardware appliance. Riverbed is an acknowledged leader in this technology. Basically, you add a piece of equipment to each end of the line that manages the packets. One thing it does is look for repeating patterns and only sends the changes, not the entire data stream. It also makes cached copies of data frequently accessed, so you aren’t constantly uploading or downloading the same information over a limited bandwidth line.
WAN Acceleratoin vs WAN Bandwidth Increase
WAN acceleration is particularly valuable when bandwidth is very expensive and hard to come by. But the acceleration hardware isn’t cheap either. So, before you shell out for any solution, it makes sense to compare all your options. Don’t just assume that you’ll pay through the nose for a bandwidth upgrade. Many, if not most, companies are probably paying more for both voice and data bandwidth than they would have to. How can that be? Bandwidth solutions have become more competitive than ever over the last few years. If your contract ran out years ago but you’ve just kept paying by the month for the same line service, you can almost certainly see a cost savings by checking the latest WAN bandwidth options for your business location.
Options to Cost Effectively Add More Bandwidth
You may have installed a T1 line at a time when that seemed like all the bandwidth you’d ever need. Now you’re maxing out the line. But, do you know that you can get additional T1 lines added to your service so that they act as one larger conduit? There are also newer options, such as Ethernet over DS1 and Ethernet over Copper, that give you lots of bandwidth at very reasonable prices. In some areas, wireless solutions are the best option. In others, fiber optic offers all the bandwidth you could want but lets you pay for only the amount you need currently.
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