Thursday, 5 January 2012

Service Delivery in bandwidth poor locations

Being in the country presents some interesting challenges and one I find that I come up against frequently at the moment is, as the title suggests, getting needed services into various remote sites. Although ADSL is quite widespread, and where not available various wireless services (NextG and the like) are able to cover the connectivity issues. But in the case where one is attempting to link sites via a VPN, 512/512Kbps is really not enough for modern applications, particularly if you're pushing internet as well as mail and remote desktop connections over that particular link. Even an ADSL2+ link with speeds up to 24Mbps/1Mbps is not really adequate for the task at hand.

So how to get around this? I'm thinking along the lines of a division of service, decentralising where possible and using cloud technologies to take the burden off the VPN links, that is, push email out to the cloud and whatever other services available out to the internet, thereby reducing the outgoing bandwidth requirements at the central site. Hopefully this will free up more bandwidth for RDP and the like. Additional ADSL services can further reduce the burden if I push http traffic out that way (using a Netgear dual WAN router or the like).

I have recently had to put this theory into practice and it seems to be working out, but it's not entirely solving the problems. Perhaps a packet caching device at either end, such as the ones produced by Riverbed, might be the answer. It's a difficult question and it gets worse when people want to put voice over it as well. You can use clever calling plans to get cheap inter-office calls more easily than implementing a whole other VPN simply for voice. And at the end of the day, let's not forget that ADSL is provided in a "best effort" scenario and no provider in the country guarantees bandwidth availability.

Tricky tricky tricky....

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