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Tag Archives: YouTube

3 Tips to Ensure Video Quality on Your Network

As we discussed in last week’s blog, video is slowly encroaching upon both home and enterprise networks. In a recent Cisco report, all forms of video will be approximately 90% of the global consumer Internet traffic in 2015. We predict that more than 50% of enterprise network traffic will be video by 2015.

Video data types are unpredictable; require a lot of bandwidth; are sensitive to latency, jitter, and packet loss; and demand the highest QoS delivery. As video becomes more pervasive on your enterprise network you’ll need the right tools and approach to manage this demanding data type. Here are our top tips for preparing for video and monitoring video usage and quality.

Determine Overall Video Usage
One of the first things you need to account for is how much video is already being used on your network. The best way to determine this is by using packet-based network analysis systems capable of analyzing networks for all types of traffic simultaneously. With such a system, you will easily be able to see the throughput associated with data versus that associated with video (and audio for that matter) and to determine if the ratio is what you were expecting.

Armed with that data, you want to go one level deeper and review the packet loss, media quality, and number of video sessions/VoIP calls to determine 1) if video may be underperforming on your network or 2) how much video is affecting the performance of other mission critical applications.

Identify Unauthorized Video Traffic
Whether someone outside your company is pilfering your Wi-Fi to access YouTube or someone inside your company is spending too much time watching the World Cup, these three approaches can help you determine who is inappropriately using video and bogging down your network.

First approach: Look at your top nodes and protocols and see what they’re doing. If you have nodes that are exceeding your typical baselines check these first by simply expanding the node to see which protocols are in use. (We’ve covered baselining before! For a refresher, check out Tim McCreery’s Getting Network Baseline Right article (PDF) or Jim Thor’s Baseline Product Tips and Tricks.) RTP? You have a possible culprit. HTTP? Don’t stop there. You have all the packets so dig in bit deeper to see where the user is going. YouTube? It’s probably not work related.

Second approach: Check your overall network utilization and zoom in on spikes in traffic, which are often indications of video downloads. Zooming in on a spike will identify not only the user, but also from the protocols in use and the servers they are communicating with. You might find that someone is simply using the telepresence program you’ve installed.

Third Approach: Create filters and alarms. If you build custom filters for RTP (Real Time Protocol) and Dynamic RTP you can easily see the activity happening on your network that relates strictly to video and voice. You can also create address filters, like for YouTube, to determine if users are abusing certain sites and if this having a negative effect on your network.

Monitor High-Level Video Delivery
It may be that it’s quality, and not abuse, that’s of importance to you, especially when telepresence is being used. The best way to analyze for success is to look into each individual media stream, breaking it down into its primary audio and video components, and glance at your metrics. This approach allows you to determine the quality of service on each segment of video from picture to sound quality. You can continue to dive deeper into the packet by packet IP conversation, identifying exactly where problems such as quality of service is not being applied to certain packets or jitter exceeds typical guidelines for video. With this information, you have everything you need to find and fix any problems.

Designing your network to meet the influx of video on your network, as well as instilling a proper monitoring system for this sensitive data, will ensure that your network continues to stay stable and colleagues continue to stay happy while watching their favorite YouTube video or using Skype for conference calls.

Is YouTube Killing Your Network Speed? 6 Tips for Managing Bandwidth

Thanks to the likes of YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, and VoIP (among others), networks are more taxed than ever with heavy traffic loads. Making sure today’s networks are humming and healthy is not only a daunting task for network administrators, it’s a must for organizations that want to stay productive and competitive.

Enter bandwidth management – the process of measuring and controlling communication on the network in order to avoid poor performance. Below are six bandwidth management tips to keep organizations ahead of network issues.

1. Baseline critical network segments

Know who is using what, when, where, and why in regards to network segments. The only way a company can improve bandwidth management is to know where they stand in terms of network demands.  Then measure success against those baselines. Organizations can start this process by looking at Internet connections, WAN links, WLAN environments, and the data center. A network analyzer is a great tool for creating baselines as it helps with organizing critical statistics into a PDF or web report on all types of networks including wired and wireless. These reports can then be used to not only solve issues that currently exist, but also to allow organizations to go back in time to validate performance and bandwidth utilization as necessary.

2. Prioritize critical business applications

Every organization will have different priorities. In fact, each network segment may have different protocol priorities because of the specific applications that traverse those segments. Certainly, the top application (based on business importance) on the sales segment will be different from the top application on the marketing segment. Those application protocols need to be handled in terms of importance for the segment they are individually on. But, when those protocols get to the same wire at the core or elsewhere, it is important that they still respect other segments’ needs.

3. Tie baseline protocols and usage to those critical business applications

Understand specific applications and their use of protocols. And remember, there is usually more than one. Any protocol that isn’t performing well can affect the overall application  performance (the weakest link per se). This is another area where a network analyzer can help break down and show individual flows and their performance. Organizations can have a window into the network to see the weakest link as well as options to sort application flows with various criteria choices.

4. Remove unnecessary protocols/traffic

Almost every network has unnecessary traffic. Some devices (especially printers) support stacks and protocols that aren’t in use in the environment. Often, WLAN traffic has not been pruned. Sometimes, protocols that help manage the network, like routing protocols, SNMP, etc., can be found on those WLANs without any purpose, eating up available bandwidth, again, with no benefit.

5. Use QoS and bandwidth shaping to prioritize the business priority applications

Organizations can initially use the feature sets on their routers and switches to help with prioritization. In some cases, they may need to purchase specific hardware or software to help with this. There are many solutions on the market today, each focusing on solving issues with bandwidth management.

6. Review and manage

Since the network is dynamic and users won’t always do the same thing twice, it is critical that organizations consistently review network activity. Businesses should verify that the processes and/or devices architected are accomplishing what they need to and that the overall network profile has not changed. It is very important to see new trends approaching and make changes to the network to account for behavioral changes in an organization’s user communities.