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How Do Businesses Scale Their Bandwidth Needs? 116

onebadmutha asks: "I'm technology admin for a very rapidly growing company. We've gone from a fractional T-1, to supplementing that with a snappy DSL line, and now we're running out of reasonable options. I've looked at routers that load-balance, but do so horribly. I've considered splitting up my network users to use several incoming DSL lines, only to be confronted with intranet accessibility issues. None of these provide the kind of redundancy and control that I'd like, and certainly not with a nice pleasant UI that doesn't cause me great grief. I've looked at Open Source router distros (like routerOS, and others) and I've looked at using the full gamut of Microsoft madness. How do other businesses solve this problem of scaling bandwidth needs, without completely unlimited budgets for redundant OC-48 runs?"
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How Do Businesses Scale Their Bandwidth Needs?

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  • Speakeasy Bonded T1? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @09:55PM (#15432614)

    I'm not sure if you are in an area where you can get Speakeasy service, but htey allow you to bond up to four T1 lines. I have no experience with the service, but I understand that it is cheaper than a fractional T3 and they provide you with hardware that does it for you transparently. I don't know if there are other service providers that have something similar, but it seems like a good idea.

    • by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:25PM (#15432745) Homepage
      I currently work at a communications company (VoIP, IP, PBX, etc.) and I would suggest that before IT managers dish out money for connections, they sit and analyze traffic patterns and do some QoS, policy based routing before kicking out money for a faster connection. Many companies dish out unnecessary money for faster connections when all they have to do is creative filtering beforehand. You take out 20 audio streamers and I guarantee you some of those bottlenecks won't be an issue. I used to work in a small office with about 40 employees. I had a business cable connection with 5mb speed and ran VoIP services, Internet services, etc. without issues. I also set up some cache servers and streamlined what went and came in first, to make sure business came first no matter what. Best thing to do before ordering a faster connection is to do an analysis of the current architecture and go from there.
      • by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:06AM (#15433200)
        MRTG can create bandwidth charts for individual ports on most Cisco kit. Run it for 24 hours and then drill-down through the gear to find out who the abusers are.

        You could also install SNMP on the workstations themselves and track it back that way.

        Disable any unused ports and lock active ports to specific MAC addresses to stop the "laptop freeloader" from sucking bits on a rogue PC.

        Finally, start blocking all the ports for incoming and outgoing traffic. Open 443 and 80 for outgoing and then wait for people to call. Open ports on a per-user basis. Workers need department head approval. Dept heads need C*O approval.
        • by Atario ( 673917 )
          ...where morale drops through the floor and people start looking for new jobs.

          Nobody likes living under a fascist big-brother network policy. But, hey, you put those lousy "freeloaders" in their place, huh? That's all that matters, after all...
          • And YOU forgot... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JoeD ( 12073 )
            ... that it's their network, their rules.

            Some non-work net use is inevitable (like me making this post). But when people are using their workplace's network connection for non-work activities to the extent that it's impacting the performance of the rest of the network, then something has to change.

            For most businesses, there is simply no business reason to allow people to download music and/or stream video to or from the office. It's just like the telephone. Most places don't mind people making personal c
          • by ednopantz ( 467288 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:09AM (#15434316)

            Lay off the bong hits kid. Grownups understand that they aren't supposed to be torrenting all day on the boss's network connection. Anyone who quits because they won't be allowed to torrent porn all day does the boss a favor.
            • Anyone who quits because they won't be allowed to torrent porn all day does the boss a favor.

              And those whiners who quit because they can't get the information they need to do their jobs? The workaholics who used to stay 12 hours because they could be little timmy a birthday toy from in 5 minutes? The companies better off without them too. What the company needs are a bunch of bottom feeders who know they can't get better jobs elsewhere, and so put up with having to clock out to take bathroom br

              • Reading /. and buying Timmy a toy at Amazon both go over port 80 and impact connections minimaly and are fine. Streaming some random shit internet radio-station all day at 128kbs (or video which neither go over port 80) cloggs a simple DSL line pretty bad. No one mentioned blocking specific sites. Just unnnecicary ports for things like streaming audio, video, torrents, other P2P, and anything else that no one has any use for at work so they can feel "connected."
              • Congratulations for refuting a position you contrived and mis-attributed to the GP with your expert knowledge from the bandwidth-management trenches at MacDonalds...

                The GP post was discussing torrenting porn, which: a) can consume much bandwidth both ways, b) may open up the business to sexual harassment issues and a hostile work environment, c) may be illegal.

                As for your ideas, sucking down 2 MB of /. a day (70 bytes per second over eight hours) stuff the network connections much less than streaming, torre
                • The GP post was discussing torrenting porn

                  The post I replied to suggested blocking all internet traffic and reopening holes on a user by user and port by port basis. If users are downloading porn at work, you have an HR issue. If users are streaming audio/video against policy, you have an HR issue. If you don't have a policy about streaming either its not an issue for you or it never occured to you to tell you users its a bad thing. Many users are just clueless about the cumlative effect of streaming, sin

              • Uh, without any controls, the frigging torrents and video streams are more likely to get in the way of stuff like google searches for work-related tasks. It could make the quick "shopping trip" to Amazon take a fair bit longer.

                It's quite annoying when a websearch takes 20 seconds to load because of some P2P crap or movie downloading.

                If I were the admin, I'd still allow video streams, but they'd be on a lower priority compared to everything else.

                I doubt even email should be held back just so someone can watc
            • Grownups understand that they aren't supposed to be torrenting all day on the boss's network connection.

              One might THINK that, but...

              I find it's much better to set up QOS and relegate anything not business related to 0 commit best effort. It's easy for users to whine about how their one little personal download can't hurt anything, but really hard to argue at work that their personal crap should be higher priority than business related traffic.

              As far as downloading porn at work, It might be better if

        • MRTG has always done the job for me but I have been looking more and more at cacti, it's worth a look over here []
        • Finally, start blocking all the ports for incoming and outgoing traffic. Open 443 and 80 for outgoing and then wait for people to call.

          Seriously not a good idea. You can save a lot of frustrations and agonizing if you ask people their requirements first and then trim down.

          * lon3st4r *

          • Most people don't know what their requirements are. It's easier to install a switch with port replication just before the firewall. Then, use a sniffer to listen for all protocols for a week.

            After that, use the internets and your memory to figure out what people are doing.

            However, after all that, you'll find that 99% of people can get what they need over 80 and 443. A few will use FTP or SSH. Of those, none of them are really buisness-related.

            We keep a single, unblocked PC in the network operations cent
    • by 222 ( 551054 ) *
      I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing, but Multilink Encapsulation allows for multiple T1's to be seen as one interface, and I can't imagine an ISP that wouldn't support this.
      It (obviously) requires both T1's to be from the same provider, as there is configuration needed on both ends.
    • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @11:02PM (#15432854) Homepage
      Forget speakeasy bonded T1, you can bond your standard DSL lines through an OpenBSD firewall using CARP. Read also about VRRP and (HSRP and GLBP) for cisco solutions. They add not only redundancy but also load balancing, and recovery is real fast as opposed to something like RIP2. You can also use OSPF but careful, OpenOSPFD and zebra dont provide load balancing and redundancy of default routes. IOS does.

      I say spend your budget on additional lines instead of cisco smartnet.
      • How is that the same as bonding? You can load balance all you want, you're not going to be able to push one stream to 3mbit over two T1s.

        Not to say the software solution is useless, just not the same.

      • Forget speakeasy bonded T1, you can bond your standard DSL lines through an OpenBSD firewall using CARP. Read also about VRRP and (HSRP and GLBP) for cisco solutions. They add not only redundancy but also load balancing, and recovery is real fast as opposed to something like RIP2. You can also use OSPF but careful, OpenOSPFD and zebra dont provide load balancing and redundancy of default routes. IOS does.

        I recently did something similar with Linux.

        Business wanted bigger bandwidth and higher availabili

      • Yeah, and if DSL wasn't oversold 150:1, that'd be a great idea.

        T1s are still selling because there's still a need for them. Frame devices have guaranteed throughput, guaranteed uptime, service level contracts and so on. Bound DSL just isn't a responsible choice for a business.
      • Bonded DSL works. I know a few G**gl* employees that have 3 bonded SDSL lines, so they can do video conferencing from home. It costs next to nothing on the user side, but the ISP has to be willing to invest a grand or so on the backend.
    • I don't get why you'd want multiple T1s from the same provider, if you're looking for redundancy. In my experience, it's much more likely your upstream provider will go down, than the T1, itself.
  • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 42Penguins ( 861511 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @09:59PM (#15432635)
    What, exactly, is the question? Is it: What kind of line should I have? or What kind of router hardware/software should I use? I'll shoot at the first question: You already have a fractional T-1, why not buy the whole thing? It's not as elite as redundant OC-48 lines, but like you said, you can't afford those anyway. If you want a step up from that, get redundant T-1 lines from 2 different providers in case one gets nicked.
    • That is the way I understood the question.

      And the answer is a series of questions in itself:

      • Do you use hosting for customer facing services? If not you are looking towards being multihomed to more than one provider and having the minimum bandwidth at which they agree to do that (usually T1 or E1).
      • Do you monitor your capacity utilisation? What is it showing at the moment. If not how can you judge if it is being utilised well? Similarly, if how do you know that your backup link provisions have sufficien
    • Before you start to design a solution, you need to define the problem and expectations. Are you providing services to customer or do you have gaggle of developers that need porn and music? Are you getting mail in html format with attachments of the latest dancing baby video? Is downtime less expensive than redundancy, what's the business impact?

      Does renting rack space at a data center with redundant connections, air, power, generator and 7x24 staffing make sense? Or do you need to run the exchange se

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:02PM (#15432643)
    That's how real tech companies do it. If you can get Yipes, Cogent, AboveNet, or some other dark fiber provider to serve you Ethernet service, that's the cheapest way to get a lot of bandwidth (10-100Mb/s range). If you can't, then you get a fractional DS3. Most real providers will let you dial the bandwidth up and down reasonably, so you could start out with a 5-10Mb/s circuit and grow from there.

    Bonding T1s and DSL is neat and all, but if your business actually depends on the Internet working, go with one really good fat pipe and then maybe a thin one (T1 or so) as a backup. Don't mess with complex setups. Complex = new ways to fail.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Dead on the money AC. You forgot the colo/data-center option, which will generally come with burstable ethernet. This isn't a real tech company though.

      Check the link [], which has since been removed. The computers page is especially amusing.
      • i can't belive he asked slashdot.. there are plenty of forums out there deticated to this type of stuff.

        now one thing that grand parent AC over looked is that if they are small ther is always a cost problem.

        one thing i have found is to use a T1 has the primary line for max up time services.. and then get a cheep microwave/wireless connection for fast but doesn't have to work 100% of the time - where i am you can get 2mb up 2mb down for around 200$ a month including small ip block and leased router (cisco 80
        • i can't belive he asked slashdot.. there are plenty of forums out there deticated to this type of stuff.

          Why is it every time someone asks a legitimate IT question on /. the poster is ridiculed with the above statement. Every. Single. Time. I for one think /. is a GREAT place to ask questions like these. Unless you've been the 'jack of all trades' IT guy at a small company, you have no idea what it is like. You're expected to know EVERYthing. Sure - there are forums all over the place dedicated to this specialty or that specialty. And if he was a network admin only, he likely would read those forums every day.

          I think /. is a great place to ask questions like these. Sure you have trolls and ACs who sometime suggest silly solutions. But you also have a LOT of hardened geeks and IT types who have been around the block a few times who make good suggestions. Already here I've seen 3 or 4 solid solutions that he can now consider and do more research on to see which fits his company best.

          Asking /. a question is not a sign of a n00b or bad IT person. What better place than one of the biggest techie readerships on the Internet to ask questions. I find many Ask Slashdot threads to be very informative, filed away for 'future use'

          At least you followed up the standard 'I can't believe he asked /.' with an actual, you know, answer.

          OK, move along nothign to see here. I had to waste a little Karma anyway.

          • Asking /. a question is not a sign of a n00b or bad IT person. What better place than one of the biggest techie readerships on the Internet to ask questions. I find many Ask Slashdot threads to be very informative, filed away for 'future use'

            The issue isn't whether or not the submitter is a "n00b" (although he clearly is). The issue is whether or not SLashdot is an approrpiate format for such poorly formulated questions. Questions that require clarification. Notice that we have not yet heard back from Mr. "
      • Man, I hope those prices are in Canadian dollars.
    • What should a 10 megabit connection cost from one of those providers? I recently got a quote from one of them that was wholly out of line with what a multiple imuxed t1 solution would cost.
  • Choices! (Score:5, Informative)

    by 222 ( 551054 ) * <> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:09PM (#15432684) Homepage
    Well, at my company, we were recently faced with the same dillema.
    There are a couple of options available, though. Although my organization appears to be a bit larger than yours, we've decided to utilize a spare T1 that simply sits there for disaster recovery purposes with Policy Based Routing (We're an all Cisco network, although this can be done on a variety of platforms, including Linux..) This directs traffic from a certain IP (and possibly port, I believe) to a specific interface, so that important data (Citrix, etc) has access to our main pipes while web traffic gets the shaft, so to speak. It uses policy maps to do so; I'm relatively noobish to IOS so maybe someone else can shed some light on this.

    I'm hopefully certain you have explored QoS and are currently implementing it, but even QoS has limits.
    I'm pretty sure a combination of the 2 methods listed above should take care of you. As a network admin, I could care less if web traffic gets dropped on a cheap DSL or cable connection.

    Just my 2c, hope it helps ;)
  • by jaredmauch ( 633928 ) <> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:09PM (#15432685) Homepage
    You need to understand a bunch of things to solve your problem, and we need some more data too

    1) Where are you located? Changing from a fractional T1 to DSL is usually a downgrade, unless it's some sort of SDSL if you're inside the US.
    2) Do you have any latency/packet reordering requirements? Bad things happen when packets are out of order, and modern routers avoid reordering like the plague to keep bad things(tm) from happening.
    3) What resources do you not need onsite, perhaps some reasonbly priced colo is a better solution for your more resource intensive solutions
    4) What are your true bandwith requirements? Most major cities you can get metro-ethernet or various flavors of dark/dim to lit fiber for cheap.

    Multiple geographically diverse OC48's are not for most people, are you sure this applies to your requirements?

    • Eh? Even a full T1 line is only 1.544Mbps. Verizon offers 7.1Mbps/768Kbps DSL lines for about $200/mo. Have been for years.
      • Correct, but you realize that is subject to the vagaries of normal DSL service. T-1s are more reliable, generally.

        T-1s are also much faster upstream, which is where a budding internet company or the like needs their bandwidth.
        • The company he linked to specializes in "on-site consultation, installation and support for small business" not internet services or hosting of any kind. We're talking about an office network, where downstream is going to be the predominant concern. Doesn't take much bandwidth to send out the occasional mail and request web pages. There may be exceptions - VOIP, for example - but given the existing connections those are almost certainly non-issues.

          As I said in response to the other gentleman who posted
      • by misleb ( 129952 )
        Such a line can easily be brought to it's knees by simply saturating the upstream. ADSL does not work well in business environments with many users. I'd take a full T1 over that 7M/768k DSL line for a business any day.

        • I wouldn't make that kind of determination without evaluating the existing and projected traffic and use patterns. Considering this was supplemental bandwidth, it's almost certainly being used for internet access and not critical services. The upstream requirements are likely well below what a business class ADSL line provides. If the problem isn't upstream and you go for a plain T1, you'll bring it to its knees saturating the downstream. :)

          Reliability may be an issue of course. Depends on how much the
  • Where I work we have an SDSL line, 10Mbit up/down, with the bandwidth being charged by the 95th percentile of sustained 3Mbits/ comes out to a fairly reasonable number, similar to about 20-25 consumer DSL Lines...we will be changing that for fibre, same bandwidth, almost the same price...

    T1's and other leased lines are too expensive...check for SDSL offerings in your area

    Granted, my office is in downtown of a large city, so we have more choices...
  • by dereference ( 875531 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:13PM (#15432692)
    Your "requirements" seem to be all over the map. If you want redundancy, that's one thing. If you want simply to scale, that's quite another thing. If you want partitioning, that's yet a different problem.

    Then, ask yourself what kind of traffic you are handling. If you're looking at users surfing the web, you probably needn't be overly concerned with load balancing; if you're receiving tons of inbound traffic to your servers, on the other hand, not only do you need load balancing, but you probably also need to seriously consider co-location solutions for your servers.

    The adminstrative traffic is typically a much lower priority in most companies. I don't know how many users you're talking about, or what they're doing, but most small companies just live with a single (full) T1 until they absolutely need to bond another T1 (where "need" is subject, but should be kept in check, especially given that last bit about not having unlimited funding).

    I guess this is not much of an answer, but these are all important questions you need to be asking yourself well before seeking specific answers. I'm not sure where you're coming from, and I don't mean to accuse you of anything, but taking the approach that you'll know the right answer when you see it is usually flawed from the start.

    • Yep, you (dereference) hit the nail on the head.

      As add-on, I strongly suspect that most businesses can live on a T1 with possible exception of web-surfers that could be shunted over to DSL links allowing VOIP and customer traffic to use the stable T1. Engineering and IT always will want fast downloading pipes so that might be another consideration for a separate broadband feed.

      IMHO too many times vendors harvest customers because the client did not calm down and define the issues needing address while a

  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:14PM (#15432697)
    Slow down there, chief. Exactly what kind of company would be going from fractional T-1, to DSL, to... an OC-48? (I sssume you were exaggerating on the OC-48)

    Couple questions:

    1) How many employees are we talking about here?
    2) What are they doing on the internet that is so demanding?
    3) Are you running any web/streaming servers onsite?
    4) Have you gone to any lengths to diagnose exactly what your bottleneck might be?
    5) Are you sure you don't just have a couple of hogs downloading porn all day?

    I know 200+ employee companies that get by with a single T-1 just fine. I'm a little suspicious of your bandwidth needs.

    But if you really meed that much bandwidth for web browsing (I doubt you do), the next step would be a DS-3 circuit at about 45Mbit. But that can be pretty costly for the circuit alone. It would, however, allow you to scale because you'd probably be paying for the bandwidth used and not the full 45Mbit. If you are in a building with other companies who have similar needs, you may be able to split the cost of the circuit and share it.

    Also, depending on your location, you may be able to setup a wireless (not WiFi) deal with someone. Something with real gear, of course. Not just a couple Linksys' with Pringle can antennaes.

    • While not the original poster, I can think of an example or two.

      When I first joined my current company back in 2000, we had nothing more then a 56k line (and a few dial-up users). We upgraded that to a T1 pretty quick in order to provide better support to our remote workers.

      Over the years, we've added more remote workers. Plus, remote workers tend to be connecting via multi-megabit DSL/Cable connections instead of the sub-megabit speeds of 5 years ago. Combine that with more and more internet use, us
      • I guess it depends on how your 'remote workers' are accessing your network. Are they trying to mount your internal file server? Just POP'ing email? SSH to your servers? Are they doing it constantly? Remote users working on a fast internet connection doesn't automatically mean they demand lots of bandwidth. The majority of T1's I have seen have been largely underutilized on average even with remote users. And a company of any significant size (big enough to saturate a T1) would probably not run VoIP over tha
  • by georgewilliamherbert ( 211790 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:16PM (#15432709)
    Is this internet access for desktop users? People from outside coming in to your corporate website? VPN connections to other offices? How many users? Are you attempting to syncronize any data across the link? In real time, or overnight?

    The possible set of right answers depends a lot on what you're doing with it.

    Policy based routing plus any number of DSL lines will work for splitting up desktop web access.

    Inbound traffic for the corporate website is pretty much the antithesis of that... outbound traffic is the target, and that ends up being T-1 optimized for small sites and bonded T-1s or faster links for bigger ones.

    VPNs can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Your mileage may vary.
  • Sonicwall 4060 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Our company uses a Sonicwall 4060 to load-balance two partial T1s. While it is a bit complex to set up, there's no lack of options on it. It's been extremely reliable too, I'd say its an excellent choice.
  • honestly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BushCheney08 ( 917605 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:23PM (#15432739)
    In all honesty, after looking over the site, I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you that you need to find which of your techs is running bittorrent all the time and either teach him how to set upload and download limits or cut him off entirely. As others have said, your posting is all over the map. You openly dismiss more than a few technologies that work quite well in competent hands. You mention fractional T1s, DSL, and OC48 as if you don't even know what they are. It really sounds like you aren't qualified to be the technology admin for a company whose business revolves around providing tech support to other businesses. Hate to say it, but that's what I see from where I'm sitting.
    • Don't be too hasty. I was starting to doubt these guys after looking at the prices for their "iT for nn" computers, but then I looked through the "iT for Professionals" offering and saw this:

      • 52x CDRW w/ 8Meg Cashe

      You get that, plus you get about $750 worth of hardware and software for only $2099.95. These guys MUST be good!
  • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:32PM (#15432759) Homepage Journal
    From the In-Touch website:

    Our Technicians Offer:

    Consultation, Installation, Upgrade,
    and Technical Support of:
    [. . .]
            - Intranet and Internet

    Have you tried dialing zero and asking for one of these technicians?

  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @10:36PM (#15432770)
    You've got a variety of options for banning bitorrent (that is your problem, right? You have done traffic analysis before coming to Slashdot, right?). This is in an escalating hierarchy of how invasive you'll have to be. 1) Tell your employees that bandwidth costs have gone up, that you know BT to be the source of the problem, and that you trust them to do what is necessary. 1.5) Ban BT by policy, threaten severe sanctions up to and including dismissal for skirting the ban. 2) Block the standard BT ports. 3) Filter out BT packets. 4) Install computer forensics software and look for evidence of BT use (pretty much has to be combined with 1.5).
    • We only have 10 people working at a time and not all of them use the internet all the time. But recently the internet connection started to jump up and down.. Sometimes causing the linksys router to stall all together. Found out that one of the employee's discovered bit torrents and was downloading tv shows during work hours. Since this discovery, I've blocked the range of 6881-6999 and now he can't connect to BitTorrent files... Now the internet has stopped bouncing so damn much!
  • First check and see how much of your current broadband is being consumed by itunes (By far the biggest offender in many companies) bittorrent and the like. If QOSing those ports down to 56 (or 3) kilobits a second doesn't solve matters, check with various providers. MCI used to have a 10mbps service back in the day. Speakeasy has some interesting options and their technical support is some of the best I've ever run across. Sprint... probably isn't worth talking to. I guarantee you whatever they offer will b
  • Heh, I just went to [] (the domain of the submitter's email address). Looks like a pretty amateurish IT shop. Especially if they don't understand how to scale Internet access. And check out their computers section: [] Geez, $1200 for an AthonXP +2200 system.... with Win2k?? WTF?

    I bet they have like 1 guy running Bittorrent all day using up all their bandwidth.

    • The mere fact that they try and sell PCs tells you that this is amateur hour. Send them to Dell if they want hardware. You might be able to beat a large manufacturers prices, but support for that crap is an expensive timesink for your techs.
    • From the response header:

      Date: Wed, 31 May 2006 03:29:16 GMT
      Server: Apache
      Last-Modified: Sat, 16 Aug 2003 01:39:59 GMT
      Etag: "6151ef-3ef-3f3d8b6f"
      Accept-Ranges: bytes
      Content-Length: 1007
      Content-Type: text/html

      200 OK
      • Out of date or out of reason, either way it reeks of "amateur." I mean, come on. The site is like 5 pages total. The least they can do is keep it up to date.

  • Speakeasy isn't the only ISP that allows you to "bond" lines. That's part of the reason why ATM has become the norm. It's called an IMA line which stands for "Inverse Multiplexing For ATM". There's an up and downside to IMA/ATM circuits. Downside to ATM is you lose a little bit of your traffic in overhead. So while you're paying for 1.5meg you're only going to see 1.2 to 1.3 depending on conditions which isn't the case with traditional Frame Relay.

    However ATM allows for IMA lines which are bonding the
  • Weigh your options (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aelbric ( 145391 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @11:19PM (#15432915)
    In short, there are several commercially available choices that may be available depending on latency, bandwidth, price, reliability, and availability.

    1) Classic T-1, 1.5Mbps
    2) IMA (Inverse Multiplexing over ATM) - Essentially bonded T-1s up to about 6 Mbps before the cost of the routers becomes prohibitive
    3) Ethernet Switching - 10Mbps and higher
    4) DS-3 and higher - 45 Mbps and up

    If you need high availability, option 1 is ruled out. IMA is good for speed and availability, but increases complexity. Ethernet switching is fast, but redundancy will cost you and it will require additional CPE devices for security and traffic monitoring. DS-3s and up are reliable and fast, but the cost of high availability (e.g. dual-entrance facilities, multiple providers) is astronomical.

    Set yourself up a matrix of each of the key metrics that make a difference to you. Talk to all your possible providers and populate your matrix with their service responses. Read their SLAs very carefully. Understand how they calculate their measurements. A 99.98% availability can be insufficient depending on how they calculate it. Weight their responses based on your business requirements and then choose the option that best suits your needs.

    If all else fails, bring in a telecommunications expert for a couple hours to help you analyze your options.
    • 5) Fixed Wireless Internet.

      Depending on where your office is, this may be an option. Nextweb [] offers T1-equivalent (1.5Mbps) up to 6MBps.

      • The problem with point to point microwave wireless is that its unreliable at best, not in service at worst. There are problems with packet loss and latency. Our office currently is paying $300 for 2mbit service, and I'm working to remedy that. The biggest problem is convincing the president that we need to spend another $400 a month for T-1 (he's smarter than the PHB in all aspects other than why we need to spend more money, not less).

        Currently I'm looking into business class cable (6mb / 2mb), T-1s, and
        • The problem with point to point microwave wireless is that its unreliable at best, not in service at worst.

          Well, you may have had a bad experience, but I used fixed wireless for about 3 years at my last company and it proved to be highly reliable and we did not see any latency issues.

          OK, we did have some problems when some trees grew into the path of the wireless link, but once that was solved, it was very good. What's more, while we paid for 2Mbps, that was the minimum we saw and most of the time, we ac

      • Depending on where your office is, this may be an option. Nextweb offers T1-equivalent (1.5Mbps) up to 6MBps.

        As a contractor who has dealt with Nextweb for two of my customers, this should not be an option. Nextweb support is ridiculously undertrained on their own equipment, and the service provided is inconsistant at best.

        I have since moved both of my customers off, and they've never been happier.
    • I agree with the bonded T1's; a cisco router will be able to keeping routing even if one of the T1's drops. Also you can add bonded T1's as needed. Fiber (muni or commercial) is another option, which also scalable.
  • there are next to $0 solutions to your problems. I used to admin a network with a t1 and 3 DSL's. The DSL's were for specialty web traffic while the T1 was business services traffic and email.

    Although we weren't providing anything around 5-9's service, my setup managed 3-9's without too much effort.

    The router was a simple vanilla Linux router with n-ports, one for each internet line and one for any local subnets. You could be creative and break up the internal architecture any way you like.

    You'll need to sp
  • Use a packet shaper, we use one by Packeteer.

    You will be able to see who is using the bandwidth and what applications are using it.
    You can then block or set low priority for non-work related traffic.

    If bandwidth is still an issue I would look at bonded T-1 lines, which is what we do.
    Once the router is configured there is really no administration.
    Then step up to a fractional t-3 when necessary.
    • Packeteer shapers were helpful 5 years ago before MPLS was hot on the scene. It's the traditional new technology curve where first it's proprietary, then it's a standard, then it's a commodity.

      We're approaching a phase where application prioritization is already a standard headed for commoditization via CoS in standard MPLS networks. IMHO the single best investment you can make in this performance management arena (and I work in it so it's not a totally uninformed opinion) is in training the people you have
  • 6meg/768 dsl for web browsing, full t1 for mail,dns,vpn and stuff I don't want to come in on sunday to fix.
    Standing rule of don't install anything on your pc but look at anything you want. About one human sacrafice
    every year to keep people in line. Check the router for open connections about once a week to check for zombies and abuse. Offer to bring in porn on dvd for home viewing to anybody who wants it. It works for me for about 60 users at my pontiac gmc store.
  • Looks like they're all being done on the same server by Bulgarians:

    network:Organization;I:ICDSOFT LTD
    network:Street;I:6 Asen Halachev Street

    So, what are you doing from your own network, that requires all that bandwidth?
    Surely not hosting anything for customers, like web or mail, if your own servers are outsourced (and all sharing the same IP!)
    What's traffic analysis show you?

    How many campuses do you
    • I don't see where you are getting the Bulgarian link from, it seems to be hosted on a shared server in Boston. The registrar is a local seattle company, and all their net presence is on a linux box with dozens of other domains on Savvis' network.

      intouchtechnical seems to be a two person small time operation. I didn't even think it was possible to get a fractional T1 any more, except for grandfathered connections. And any company claiming on their website to be experts should have a Cisco router and some Cis
      • I don't see where you are getting the Bulgarian link from, it seems to be hosted on a shared server in Boston. The registrar is a local seattle company, and all their net presence is on a linux box with dozens of other domains on Savvis' network.

        Savvis told me:

        $ whois -h -p 4321
        %rwhois V-1.5:001ab7:00 (Exodus Communications)

  • I know it sounds stupid, but they have a metro area network fiber setup in some cities (especially former mediaone markets, i think) that is very, very nice and ethernet based. You'd get internet in increments from 5mbps-1gbps depending on how much you want to spend. []

    Their 'network' service also looks cool for distributed metro campus issues. One ethernet segment to interconnect multiple locations. They even support vlan trunking without having to harass them!
  • trunk [] and pf [] should meet your binding and shaping needs.

  • Just out of curiosity, have you tried reducing your bandwidth needs? I recently redid the network for a small company which wanted to upgrade their bandwidth afterwards because employees complained their internet access was too slow. As part of the upgrade, I added a proxy server and blocked all unneeded ports as well as many non-work approved sites. I also put ad blocking on their proxy server, as clicking on advertisements really isn't work-approved anyway. Afterwards, they didn't need to upgrade thei
  • by Yonder Way ( 603108 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:51AM (#15434097)
    The users hated me because they couldn't stream music to their desks. I would always bring them a Best Buy ad turned to the page with portable radios, CD players, and MP3 players.

    First thing to do is get a hold of your firewall. Block all traffic, in and out. Then create rules to only let in and out specific traffic types with specific end points. Outbound http should only go through your web server. SMTP through your mail server. Don't let ssh out at all unless you must, and even then see if you can determine specific hosts to permit it to and from. Rate limit ssh to make it usable for remote shell access but painful for port forwarding other application types (forwarding http through ssh is an old trick to get around the company logging your web surfing activity).

    Notice I mentioned a squid server. Yes, you need one of those. And yes, you need to force everyone to use it. There is a very good chance your router can do this for you transparently.

    Users will scream. Loudly. Prepare yourself and your management for this. Anyone who thinks they are being treated unfairly needs to submit IN WRITING a business justification for the traffic they want you to permit, which must be approved jointly by IT and HR.

    With an arrangement like this, I was able to keep over 500 users happy on a pair of bonded T1 lines. 3Mbps for 500+ users. The biggest consumer of bandwidth was the 5 person IT department pulling patches for all the different OS's we had to support. Every now and then one of the software developers would think he was being clever and find a way around the outbound blocks on the firewall using an exception in the rules that their manager got approved, but it would end quickly with a very embarassing personal visit from our Director and their own boss within a few minutes of the music streaming starting.

    Broadband to the home has been a mixed blessing. People have gotten too used to having bandwidth-hungry apps at home which is fine when you have 3Mbps+ all to yourself but when you are at work and have to share it, it's time to leave the toys at home and be a considerate network citizen.

    Luckily I don't have to be network cop these days. Someone else gets to do that. Someone that doesn't have a good handle on their network so they are buying way more bandwidth than they really need.
    • > Notice I mentioned a squid server.

      Right on, Yonder. I have six years of data showing
      that Squid works wonders.
      I put a Squid server online in 2000 and forced our
      1,200 users to use it (domain logon script set IE to
      use automatic proxy config script). Even I was impressed
      at how much bandwidth we saved.
      Immediately, a third to half of our web (http) traffic
      disappeared. Yes, the web cache was really that effective.
      This freed
    • I know that these are all good recommendations for businesses that are cash-strapped, but it smacks of cheapness to me. Our Cogent 50Mbps line is dirt cheap considering the available bandwidth. Sure, a bean-counter might say that streaming audio is not a business necessity, and I agree, but if you give your employees a little breathing room, I think you'll find yourself in a more productive environment. AND the next time there IS a legitimate network issue, they won't be breathing down your neck to get i
    • Do people get to take bathroom breaks and go outside the cube for lunch?
  • Solution: Linksys RV016, $400

    Point 1: Looked at routers that load-balance, but do so horribly.
    Counter-Point 1: The RV016 uses weighted round-robin or various other methods, depending on your preference.

    Point 2: I've considered splitting up my network users to use several incoming DSL lines, only to be confronted with intranet accessibility issues.
    Counter-Point 2: The Linksys can do this for up to SEVEN WAN connections. It can split by IP range(multiple ranges), protocol(SPI), and port.

    Point 3: None of these
  • Timewarner business class road runner can be pretty speedy.

    If you are actually growing rapidly (in sales, not overhead), the cost shouldn't be so much of an issue.

    I would not go for a solution that mashes together a bunch of residential services.
  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @09:33AM (#15434752)
    Step 1: Analyze your network traffic and determine if more bandwidth is really necessary. I am an engineer for a company of 300 users, and we get by just fine on a pair of T1 circuits. If you're having bandwidth problems there is a fair chance that someone is hogging all of the bandwidth. Once you filter out the guys streaming audio, video, and using P2P clients (either restrict them to a trickle with QoS or block it completely) I suspect that you will have a lot more bandwidth than you need.

    Now, if you still find that you need more bandwidth, the easiest solution is to purchase a nice router that can handle routing and load balancing over multiple connections. Forget about a cheap LinkSys or NetGear DSL router, get yourself a serious router like the Cisco Integrated Services Routers. For under $3000 you can get one that has expansion slots for up to 4 WICs, and it can handle T1/E1, DSL, voice, etc.

    I would also recommend that you talk to data providers in your area, as they are the people who build and sell these solutions every day. Don't just talk to the telco, talk to other providers as well. Where I work we get our T1 lines from AT&T, but there are several other providers that we could get them from, and the prices do vary some. There is also at least one provider that offers a wireless RF solution for Internet access that works as a line-of-sight basis. In this case you would essentially mount an antenna on your building, point it at their tower, and then hook it into your network. They were offerring speeds significantly faster than T1 but slower than T3 for very competitive prices, and they also offerred bandwidth on demand services (i.e., your usual allotted bandwidth was 10 Mbps, but they had excess capacity to handle spikes in traffic up to 15 Mbps or whatever).

    Honestly, if you have to ask Slashdot how to scale your company's Internet bandwidth, odds are you're working for a pretty small company (because if you're working for a much larger company you would seem to be fairly incompetent for a network engineer). Most small companies wouldn't normally need more bandwidth than can be provided over a couple of T1 connections.
  • is a good starting point if you wan't to use multiple DSL lines from a linux box.

    another option though it would require some client side configuration is to have several IP subnets, set a static route up to your intranet router and then stick a cheap DSL router box on each subnet for internet.
  • veriron/PDFs/ServerIron_LB [] FINAL.pdf
    (if it doesn't work, go to foundry networks website and look for serveriron link balancer)

    they provide means of load balancing traffic across multiple links (max of 6 t3 or 2 oc3 capacity) without having to go through complex bgp stuff.
  • I have to agree with the traffic analysis group, there's just no way email and websurfing can be eating up all your bandwidth. bittorent and streaming audio can easily bring a WAN link to it's knees. unless you have some sort of bandwidth intensive app that is scaling with your business, you just need to cut that traffic out! it's not worth the added expense. you can get cable or satelite music services for a lot cheaper than an additional t-1!

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972