Quality of Service - will it work for smaller networks?

Ian Yates continues his exploration of QoS with a look at its applicability to smaller LANs.

PREVIOUSLY: Quality of service basics

In Part Two of our Quality of Service story, Andrew Trickett, Netgear's VoIP and DSL Sales Engineer, explains WoS for the SMB space.

Ian Yates: How does QoS work Andrew for SMBs, Andrew? Is it worthwhile?

Andrew Trickett: It is definitely worth while but I mean as I think you are probably going to touch on later it does depend on what you are planning on doing with your network as well kind of applications and services you are going to use and who is supporting you at the back end. Whether it is an internal network you are using or a if you have got a service provider that will acknowledge the quality...

IY: I mean it must be the question that everyone asks, so you have pre-empted it is yeah, you might say I want QoS but what about the guy upstream if he just says I am ignoring your packet sir.

AT: Yeah well I mean the main use I think for QoS at the moment for residential uses is VoIP. I mean moving forward everyone is rolling out IP TV and things like this and I think service providers you know, as they are starting to offer these services sure they have got their network ready to go and their support, at least their own services but if you are using a service that is further down the chain somewhere else on the internet then you really do need someone to - well everyone along the way to kind of acknowledge...

IY: The requests. When you think about it I guarantee these ISPs are using these sorts of things between themselves and all the way around the internet otherwise the thing would have choked to death years ago.

AT: To some degree they are going to have to organise it and manage it, but I think you will find you know, the problem that we try and tackle with our VoIP units at least is we integrate a router into them and we basically can definitely can control the out flowing of the packets to make sure that your own LAN traffic doesn't over run any of your VoIP traffic. But the return packet could be becoming from a voice service provider or from your actual internet service provider, something we still have control of.

IY: Of course so you are basically keeping things - you are keeping your own house nice and tidy, I guess if you have got to branch office you would be keeping traffic between your branch offices tidy.

AT: Yeah as long as the tagged packets are not going to get stripped.

IY: So if they become ordinary packets they will just get treated ordinarily.

AT: That's right.

IY: So it is! You mentioned that VoIP is probably what has got people excited about wondering how to get the QoS thing going and make sure that they have got enough space for the noise but I guess what you said also is going to be true down the track. If we start throwing television and you name they are going to give us broadband, both political parties whoever gets in Government is going to try to build us fatter pipes and we are just going to consume those pipes aren't we? So, I guess we are going to have to use some QoS if we start spraying all these new, you know, video conferencing and IP TV down the line.

AT: Yeah I think it definitely similar to the way that operating systems keep on getting bigger and bigger and everyone wants to - you know everyone needs more and more processing time. Similarly we are going to need fatter and fatter pipes but to some degree it doesn't really matter how fat the pipe is because as everyone VoIPs probably even more so then video or IP TV is kind of sensitive to the time and the delays on the packets. So not matter how fat the pipe is you have still got to make sure that...

IY: Yes I see what you are saying, that's right. So, you might have a really hi-fi audio telephone call but there is not much point if there is a three second gap and it is like using a satellite via the moon.

AT: Yeah the latency is more wrong... it is not going to hep you anyway.

IY: Yeah. All right. Well the best advice we can give then is that QoS button is there for a reason, find out what it does and how to tune it.

AT: Yeah well I mean we - in our standard gateway series we have been implementing like an automatic QoS for some time so there is not a button for us to turn on because we try and keep it simple for the end users. So if you plug a VoIP device in behind one of those gateways the packets will get acknowledged. That talking about - sorry to steer us back towards VoIP and gateways but as the IAD type products come out and where you end up with your ADSL point and your VoIP point in the one router you will find that it gets managed more and more automatically.

IY: Probably get done a lot better then - I mean okay if you have got your own network engineer you will probably do better but like most cars if you are not one of those formula one boys the automatic tends to go a bit better and use less fuel.

AT: Yes that's right. I mean doing it at the other end, at your more enterprise end - as you say if you have got an engineering knowledge you can obviously organise your own network at your switches and your routing points to handle much more internal traffic.

NEXT: QoS and VoIP

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