Mobile Internet is EVERYWHERE. When we are not accessing it in public via cellular 4G LTE, we are using our mobile devices to surf on corporate Wi-Fi networks. But access is not always fair. Sometimes, we just want to quickly check our mails. Or launch a corporate app. And yet, we have to struggle with poor response times because someone is streaming multimedia. It is analogous to being unable to slake a fierce thirst because the hose is being used to wash the family motor home.
FierceWireless correctly identified this trend almost a year ago, and it has never been more complicated for businesses to make sure customers and employees are able to securely access the right apps at the right time without delays.
I caught up with Scott Poretsky, Director of Solutions Architecture for the Americas at Allot Communications, who specializes in solving these problems for enterprises and mobile operators. I asked him about what is trending around the causes of the mobile bandwidth crunch and solutions to cure the problem.
Increased demand is an issue. And there are many developments driving this increase:
1. The rise of 4G LTE
Believe it or not, better networks are heavily driving demand. LTE speeds can now overwhelm corporate and even cloud networks. Yet, even faster mobile networks are on the way demanding still larger back-end connectivity at the carrier and corporate Wi-Fi level to handle the crush.
It has been widely reported that video now constitutes over 50% of internet traffic. When an investor or customer announcement video is first posted, a bottleneck can occur at the source server as everyone tries to access the clip at the same time.
3. Bring your own device (BYOD)
The BYOD phenomenon can cause erratic spikes in usage. One minute a user is in the corporate CRM system and the next he is streaming a home video off of Facebook. Building for scale in Wi-Fi networks to accommodate this phenomenon is not easy.
4. The cloud
Many cloud applications, especially mobile ones, depend on Internet connectivity. Additionally, the need for encryption and the nature of these applications means that they devour bandwidth. More cloud equals more demand for mobile bandwidth.
Scott and I also discussed some ideas to meet the challenge:
BYOD is great for corporate productivity. The usual response from IT Managers, however, is, “You want to put THAT device on my network? I don’t know where it has been and what it has been doing.” Freedom of mobility begets security risk. A corporate network must permit BYOD while also providing security protection for devices and servers on the network.
2. Usage policy
When BYOD users are on the corporate Wi-Fi, enterprises can now identify them by device and IP address. This allows control over what services users access. For example, a warehouse worker may access corporate SCM and personal email but is blocked from entertainment videos. Meanwhile, a senior executive walking through the same warehouse can access his corporate dashboard and public video of analyst reports.
3. Fair access to business resources
Enterprise IT departments and global carriers alike want a way to set performance expectations with their users. Mobile access has increased demand on resources by increasing the number of users demanding those resources at all times. It is critical that employees are able to reach business applications. Bandwidth control on a per-application basis ensures fair usage for all employees so that heavy users do not block other employees from access to resources.
4. Meeting SLAs in the cloud
As employees are increasingly mobile on smartphones and tablets, enterprises are offering them cloud-based services. Cloud service providers now offer tiered services based upon the corporate SLA to make sure that their applications, especially their mobile ones, work as designed for the individual employee.
5. Video caching
Content distribution networks are becoming more prevalent. They move content away from corporate servers with limited CPU and bandwidth, and cache files in various strategic places on the edge of the Internet. The result is that more instances of the same video content can be downloaded simultaneously without congestion.