Bandwidth Throttling: Know Your Options

Bandwidth Throttling: Know Your Options

Bandwidth throttling has been around for some time and depending on what end of the service you reside on, your experience can vary widely. There is no reason to debate the need for bandwidth throttling: spreading a data load over a wider connection to reduce local network congestion or spreading it over a number of servers to avoid overloading individual ones. However, there is an ongoing debate about how the elastic service should be provided. Either way there is usually one common denominator: organizations are looking for performance beyond expectations.

Diminished Expectations

Bandwidth is generally plentiful and the advent of the cloud enables service providers to modify it on the fly from almost anywhere.  Well, if you are willing to fill out some paperwork and wait awhile. Although major carriers have the visibility and control to modify or throttle bandwidth, they lack a network that is specifically built to handle these requests in a timely manner. If you are a customer that needs a temporary boost in bandwidth for a video broadcast, a R&D project or seasonal circumstances, you must find your way through automated phone responses to the right customer service personal who will attempt to fulfill your request.

Upon receiving requests, carriers typically sell the extra bandwidth in larger blocks of time than customers need and the bandwidth must be ordered well in advance to ensure delivery when needed. To use an analogy, this is equivalent to ordering a beer at a pub, a week in advance. Upon arriving for your beer, the bartender informs you that they don’t sell it by the pint-you must purchase the entire keg!

This begs the question: Why do typical carries sell bandwidth this way? Because most major carrier networks are not purpose built for this type of elasticity; the IP transport is either cobbled together with limited visibility into the network or just too old to adjust on the fly.

Beyond Expectations

An example of bandwidth throttling expectations being realized comes from providers who offer the ability to purchase only the amount of bandwidth needed for the desired time period.

Going beyond expectations means offering instant bandwidth modifications on a global basis, initiated and controlled by the customer-with no carrier service agent needed. How is this possible? Companies who own and operate their own end-to-end, global network fabric have complete visibility and control into the IP transport.

Layered on top of the transport should be a service control portal that puts the bandwidth throttling capabilities-anywhere in the world-in the hands of the customer. With the movement of a simple adjustment bar on the portal, customers can modify their bandwidth and add new policies that take effect in just seconds.

In addition to the bandwidth throttling, a service control portal needs to offer a top-level view of bandwidth utilization; what applications are being used as well as views into QoS and policy levels.

Let’s End This Debate

Although some providers will continue to justify their services, it is clear that organizations want a simplified experience and the tools to determine if their bandwidth is being delivered as purchased. They will gravitate toward self-service bandwidth throttling and the means to view what’s happening with their broadband connections at anytime. These organizations’ word-of-mouth will be a very powerful motivator and influence others’ expectations. Soon the more difficult bandwidth throttling options will be obsolete. This in turn will allow the transparent, do-it-yourself bandwidth services to prevail as they truly go beyond current expectations.

About Tim Naramore

Chief Technology Officer, Masergy
Tim Naramore is the Chief Technology Officer of Masergy Communications and brings more than 30 years of experience in IT and telecommunications to the discussion. Tim has worked at Frito-Lay, Texas Instruments, Boeing, Allegiance Telecom and Broadwing Communications on technologies ranging from IBM mainframes to handheld computers and web applications. Tim is responsible for the IT, Network Engineering and Software Engineering groups at Masergy. He holds a bachelor's of science in information systems from Pittsburg State University.