Internet bonding, unlike physical-layer or MAC-layer carrier bonding, refers to the aggregation of ISP links with an OTT (Over-the-Top) overlay tunnel. With Internet bonding (also known as Broadband Bonding), an organization can combine any type of IP connectivity (cable, DSL, fiber, LTE, 5G) from multiple service providers to create a faster and more reliable Internet connection. In generic Internet bonding, the algorithms work towards getting the most performance out of the aggregated ISP lines for general Internet traffic. In recent years however, Internet bonding technologies have become much more sophisticated and have added the ability to optimize the overlay tunnel with respect to the critical parameters of the application at hand. At Mushroom Networks we call this “application-centric SD-WAN” and this is the cutting edge technology powering modern Internet bonding.
Why should Internet bonding algorithms be application centric? Isn’t a generic Internet bonding overlay tunnel good enough? This is a fair question and the answer depends on your use case. For some of the use cases, where the profile of the Internet traffic is fairly generic and there aren’t that many real-time or chatty applications, a generic bonding tunnel will work great. However, if you are using VoIP (Voice Over IP), video conferencing, interactive chatty applications such as RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) or any of the other applications that require low-latency, low-jitter and low packet loss, then a generic bonding tunnel is far from optimized. There are significant improvements that a specialized application-centric bonding tunnel (e.g. VoIP Armor) can provide.
Let’s look at that example a little deeper. Say your organization is using a cloud-based PBX and the VoIP / SIP packets are going over your bonded Internet connections and your network can implement a voice-centric bonding tunnel. In this case, the tunnel will be able to steer packets of on-going calls onto the path that optimizes the traffic flow for MOS (Mean Opinion Score), which is a calculated metric that quantifies the voice quality and reliability from the user’s perspective. So, unlike a generic bonding tunnel, with a voice-centric Internet bonding tunnel, latency, jitter and packet loss are optimized, perhaps with a resulting small hit in total throughput. This is clearly a very intelligent tradeoff that enhances the user experience of an application that heavily relies on the network quality that the VoIP/SIP traffic experiences.
The application centric Internet bonding experience should be provided seamlessly to the end user. In other words, there should only minimal configuration needed by the IT manager. The “set it and forget it” approach will translate any type of ISP related emergency support issue to a scheduled, non-urgent maintenance ticket. Network problems can be circumvented by the application-centric approach and will avoid creating any interruptions to the business operations.
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.