Eight is the magic number for a speedy network

A speedy network that is reliable and efficient can be achieved using 8 methods.

The number eight has always been integral to technology, whether it’s those bits to a byte or historical computer architecture, eight is a big deal.

8 should be IT pros lucky number. With that in mind, why have a top 10 list for speeding up your network, when you can make it fly with eight?

8. Perfect priorities

In the world of BYOD and flexible working, the boundaries of work and recreational internet bandwidth are blurring.

Everyone is probably guilty of the occasional social media snoop or quick browse for online shopping while at work, but this can have a broader impact than just on your ‘to do list’; the result on your network could be decreased performance of business critical traffic.

Quality of Service (QoS) is a solution that allows you to prioritise business related traffic and even block or drop unwanted IP conversations. And if you want to get really fancy, QoS provides network administrators with options such as traffic shaping, bandwidth throttling and rate limiting.

It is necessary to prioritise business related traffic and even block or drop unwanted IP conversations.

7. Bump BYOD

Get BYOD off your main network.

This might not solve any employee productivity issues today’s working style triggers, but by creating separate VLANs for guests, employee mobile devices and enterprise devices can help with productivity issues with your core network and ISP bandwidth.

Also, by separating different traffic types on different VLANs you’ll add to security and ensure traffic from mobile devices does not affect enterprise traffic.

>See also: The rise of 5G: the network for the Internet of Things

6. Wonderful WAN

Today’s office environment is far from traditional, whether it’s a remote office, data centre or server farm, almost every enterprise has some level of inter-branch data transfer.

For business continuity every millisecond counts, so latency or reduced bandwidth for these transfers are a big no no.

A WAN optimiser can provide near-LAN I performance for specified traffic types through data compression, caching and packet coalescing.

5. Security savior

It can seem like an obvious one, but ensuring you have up-to-date anti-virus on all your user machines and servers can keep your network whizzing.

Even if they’re not stealing your data, malware, botnets and other network baddies infest systems and consume precious resources. Spam email botnets, for example, can consume the full bandwidth of your network.

Your anti-virus savior can help to block viruses and other malware with intrusion detection or prevention systems (IDS/IPS).

>See also: Need for speed: How to ensure your e-commerce website is up to scratch

Network traffic behavior analysis can also add an extra layer of security, providing proactive alerts for irregular traffic patterns.

4. Brilliant balancing

Load balancers can help distribute traffic among clustered servers (web services, media servers, etc.) hosting single applications and balancing requests between multiple servers.

This takes the pressure off front end servers and lets you distribute the workload among multiple servers, increasing scalability and availability; win win.

3. Optimise off-peak hours

An active backup process, while it has many benefits, can also slow the network as a huge percentage of the network bandwidth is required.

To get the most from your backup, ensure that these are executed during non-peak hours.

Similarly, patch management can reap huge rewards but requires discipline as it can eat up a significant amount of bandwidth.

Plan the execution of patches or upgrades during off-peak hours, or alternatively split them over different time periods based on the priority of the systems involved.

Implementing a centralised patch distribution service means you can speed up updates and decrease the impact on your WAN.

>See also: Migration to 100GB fibre: what you need to know to future-proof your networks

2. Terrible traffic

Unwanted software is often guilty of causing unwanted traffic.

Some of the biggest culprits are streaming video or audio services, with an ever-increasing number of employees plugging in and listening to music during working hours.

Validate the software installed on user laptops/systems and ensure that common unauthorised software, such as torrent servers, aren’t running in the enterprise.

Sometimes even the wanted software can lead to traffic trouble. File sharing tools like Dropbox and Google Drive are an effective and often used means of ensuring efficient collaboration in an enterprise, yet said tools can cause unwanted traffic.

Business applications like CAD and video editing also require significant bandwidth, so it is important to understand who uses these services and what their bandwidth needs are.

This will allow you to segment them from the rest of the network, apply relevant QoS policies, and decrease the risk of impact from one department on the whole company.

1. Dark dangers

What, then, is the best way to identify the applications and services that are causing these issues?

Monitoring can help find unwanted applications, rogue users and troublesome devices lurking in the deepest corners of your network.

NetFlow and other similar flow technologies can tell you the who, what and where of your bandwidth, making it easy to know what applications are being used, the ports and protocols involved, application priority and more.

With flow technologies, such as NetFlow, sFlow, IPFIX or J-Flow, you get a holistic view into your network’s traffic.

This way, you can take informed decisions before throwing more bandwidth at a problem that could have been solved with traffic policing and priorities.
Sourced by Mav Turner, director of product strategy at SolarWinds

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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