If you are like me or many other Americans commuting to work every day via Interstate highways, you can easily visualize the difference between “Dynamic Traffic Shaping” and “Static Traffic Shaping” and the significant benefits of the former. Not too long ago, the metering gates at the I-5 freeway had little or no intelligence to adapt to the traffic load. I remember many times sitting at the gate waiting for the red light to turn green so that the next two cars can be admitted to the highway, even though there was no traffic on the highway at all, at that time. The “traffic shaping” was static. I also remember times where the green light was telling me to go, but the entry to the highway was completely blocked and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper – clearly not the best traffic management design.
Similar principles apply in packet-switched IP networks as well. Internet traffic shaping needs to be a fundamental part of an enterprise’s WAN optimization and WAN virtualization strategy today. However, done blindly, it can hurt the performance as opposed to improving it. Let’s take an enterprise network with Voice over IP (VoIP) services. If you traffic shape VoIP packets in a static manner (i.e. reserving pre-defined bandwidth from your total available, just for VoIP and no other types of applications), you most certainly are unnecessarily sacrificing the performance of your other traffic types while there is no VoIP traffic in your WAN pipes.
A more modern and more effective method is to implement Internet traffic shaping that is based on a dynamic and adaptive QoS algorithm. Sticking to our VoIP example, in a dynamic traffic shaping setting, the WAN resources for VoIP will be reserved if and only if there is VoIP traffic in the system. If not, the dynamic traffic shaper will utilize that reserved bandwidth for other types of traffic, until VoIP traffic is again detected in the network. This type of approach enables the best utilization of bandwidth within the framework of bandwidth reservations for specific application types.
Imagine traffic metering gates that can look around, make sense of the traffic and according to the traffic conditions can adapt its pacing of the cars through the gates. That is the power of dynamic traffic shaping.
Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc.
Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.