Well, the big day, November 6, 2012, has come and gone and it may not have passed the way we expected. No, not the presidential election, but something much more awaited by those teenage males who have yet to reach voting age, the release of Halo 4. Read more [+]
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not new to broadband networks at Universities and colleges. They have enabled and even required it since forever. According to the Educause Center for Applied Research Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012: about 85% of students own/use a printer and laptop; 65% have a desktop and thumb drives; 45% own tablets; and E-reader, Scanner and Smartphone ownership runs from the low to high 30%s in that order. Now, more than 50% of students use mobile devices to check grades, access course website or syllabi and use learning management systems, and 75% say that technology helps them achieve their academic outcomes. Read more [+]
Traffic management has long been an issue to which the Wireless ISP (WISP) community has paid close attention. The best-designed, high-speed network in the world is still dependent on the last leg of the trip, which in the wireless case includes the access links and the air we all share. These are precious resources by any measure, or from any plane of reference, with finite spectrum capacities that must be applied and shared to the mutual satisfaction of all served. Subscribers have choices these days and they require service levels that reflect that. The toll for an unpredictable service is customers and once they stray they rarely, if ever, return.
These are tall orders for certain. To date, wireless network designers and managers have balanced the competing forces in the network with great skill. But even the experienced are being challenged to their utmost limits today. With an ever-increasing number of applications and devices being added to the network at breakneck pace, each with different performance profiles, it is difficult—if not impossible—to keep up with the impact of each permutation.
At Procera, gathering the data required to properly manage and measure the complex environment that is today’s WISP network is our passion. Through the bedrock technology of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), we surface the smallest details of each traffic flow in the network. By doing so, we enable and simplify the application of policies, designed to ensure optimal operation of the network across the many dimensions that may influence it.
But optimization is only part of the story. Increasingly, our WISP customers come to us with complex use cases that require service creation and enable the predictable application of network resources to those service offerings. These services need to take into account the dimensions of quotas, groups for family plans, users, applications, locations and devices to name few. Research now shows that the ability to personalize service plans as desired creates loyalty and therefore limits subscriber churn. Investments in service creation present compelling payback horizons by traditional comparisons, sometimes as quickly as a few weeks or months.
As one WISP who recently deployed Procera related, “It was really hard to see what our next steps were going to be in terms of network design, but now we have the data from Procera’s equipment. It shows us what we need to pay attention to and potentially adjust. The really powerful thing is that it encompasses the entire network and not just single elements as some of the disparate, vendor-specific element managers do. This adds tremendous value for both our customers and our business. We can now create services that have their foundation in fact and not speculation which will ensure we get it right.”
To learn more about Procera and our solutions for WISPs, stop by booth # 153 at WISPAPALOOZA 2012 in Las Vegas.
It seems today that all discussions about networking include reference to the ubiquitous cloud. A Network World article cleverly avoids the use of the term but underscores current and future bandwidth requirements as they relate to the online instruction and collaboration tools emerging across campuses the world over. By next year, the state of Maine will have more Web-enabled devices available for students than it has students, and a State Educational Technology Directors Association report claims that Schools in the U.S. will need 100Mbps per 1,000 students and staff by 2014.
As CIOs of higher education institutions, like their brethren in other organizations, grapple with the meaning and impact of leveraging cloud applications there are implications and trade-offs they need to consider. Past experience dictates that throwing bandwidth at such problems, while providing immediate gratification, might not be the panacea it appears to be. Additionally, tighter budgets demand that the supporting hardware and infrastructure costs get a hard look as well.
One thing is for sure, the thirst for bandwidth is elastic. If you build it, applications will find a way to come. Don’t believe it? Look at the trend relative to Netflix since it burst onto the scene. No matter where you measure, Netflix accounts for a hefty share of the bits delivered worldwide. It drives networks to capacity and adding capacity simply attracts more Netflix traffic. While entertaining, and therefore high on consumers’ viewing list, competition with more “mission-critical” applications is a fait accompli.
The management and prioritization of core cloud-based applications, critical to a school’s mission, must be enabled to advance the learner’s experience. Thought and deliberation, as well as a coherent traffic management plan, will deliver the desired result. Additionally, up to the minute quality-of-experience metrics and related historical views will become the measure of success. Lastly, fairness counts, but it needs to be enforced.
As one college Network Manager recently told us, “As we move applications to the cloud, we have to ensure that all students have prioritized and measurable access. We can’t have students impacting these services with entertainment and gaming applications. We plan to use our Procera gear to ensure that.”
I am reminded this week that an ever-increasing measure of technology finds its way into an ever-decreasing footprint. All at a value never previously contemplated. This dynamic provides customers with choices, broadens appeal and defines new applications. In technology, many things come in small and exciting new packages. Read more [+]