There is a freeway through Oakland, CA that has perpetual traffic. It is 880.
I have spent many days driving and sitting in traffic on 880. It never seemed to matter the time of day.
10 AM. 2 PM. Rush hour (if there is such a thing in the Bay Area). It is one of the many miserable sections of traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The example of traffic on roads is the same thing that occurs on the Internet. Rather than call it a “traffic jam”, we say it is network congestion.
There are many causes of network congestion. Here, I would like to discuss 10 ways to reduce network congestion.
Monitor Your Network Traffic
Monitoring network traffic provides insight about where possible congestion may lie. What this means is that you can make network adjustments to problem areas. The only way to understand if slow network speeds are caused by congestion is to monitor.
Network monitoring is how you begin reducing network congestion. You have to understand the distribution of network traffic to analyze reduction in congestion. Once you analyze traffic, then you can provide optimization solutions.
Segmenting a network is a process in computer networking. The process is to divide your network into smaller sub-networks.
The benefit of segmenting your network is to group assets and groups into specific areas. This will allow for monitoring traffic in groups. It provides grain level insight into the function of your network.
By segmenting, you can now reduce network congestion in specific areas of your network. Not having to guess where the congestion is occurring.
Use a Content Delivery Network
The use of a content delivery network (CDN) has many advantages. Most of the advantages pertain to the global distribution of static content. As about 2/3 of a company’s content is static, this can provide network management benefits.
The CDN will place content on edge serves. The result will be less requests coming into your network. If you have segmented your network, this will especially hold true. Less requests will mean less opportunity for congestion. Also, a CDN will assist with bandwidth management.
Implementing a CDN can reduce network congestion by placing more requests on edge servers. Away from your central network.
Reconfigure TCP/IP Settings
As traffic is moving over a network, it could be that a sending computer is transferring files faster than the receiving computer can process. The issue with this is that in an un-congested network, packets transfer fast. When they get to the receiving computer, they will become congested. The result is packet loss, as data is not processed.
To solve for this issue, you can adjust the TCP/IP settings to slow the request of packets. This can be useful when more computers request on a network. By slowing requests, the receiving computer will be able to manage processing the packets. This can minimize the occurance of congestion.
As the throughput of a network reaches capacity, rather than continuing to send data over that network route, you can choose a different path. This is the concept of backpressure routing.
Backpressure routing is an algorithmic implementation on a network. It specifies that when a network route begins queueing, traffic is routed over a different path. This solution applies primarily to multi-hop routing, but is effective in eliminating congestion.
Although backpressure routing is primarily theoretical, there is increasing potential for its use. As shortest logical path routing of border gateway protocol (BGP) needs to evolve, this is a logical approach to addressing congestion.
To prevent congestion from escalating, the use of a choke packet can be a good strategy. A choke packet is used in network maintenance to prevent the congestion of a network.
As a network begins to slow and become congested, a choke packet is sent to slow the output of the sending computer. Decreasing the sending rate is what will allow the receiving computer and routers to catch up. This can prevent the congestion from getting worse and leading to packet loss or a time out.
Implicit Congestion Notification
Implicit congestion notification is a notification process that is performed at each hop of data transmission. This means there is a node in the sending data packets. The node will pick up information to determine whether there is a possibility of congestion.
The benefit to this notification system is there is no extra control messages needed. This is in contrast to our next notification setting, which is explicit congestion notification.
Explicit Congestion Notification
Explicit congestion notification (ECN) is a notification mechanism that alerts if there is congestion within a network. It works such that there are no packets dropped as congestion begins to occur.
In a system where ECN is not used, the congestion notification is dropped packets. This is not an ideal situation as you begin to lose data. The result is packet loss, which can lead to jitter and more congestion.
Having a signaling mechanism can allow changes before congestion occurs.
Prioritize Network Traffic
Preventing congestion can be changing a router setting. By understanding quality of service (QoS) principles, the prioritization of traffic over your network can be important. This is most often used in voice over IP (VoIP) settings. In this situation, VoIP always gets the priority over a network.
Prioritization of traffic is ideal for bandwidth utilization. It can ensure there is no one application that is a bandwidth-hog. Also, by adjusting router settings, you can reduce congestion before it begins.
Use Network Redundancy
Redundancy ensures network availability. What redundancy does is ensure that if one router or network route becomes congested, a second route is used in its place. This would make sure there is no packet loss or a time out due to congestion.
The redundancy system would be the fail over option for when congestion gets so bad there is a time out. Also, redundancy is used most often when there is a network outage. It prevents an enterprise network form going down.
I realize I said I was going to provide 10 ways to reduce network congestion, but I want to throw in a bonus. A shameless plug. The Datapath.io solution.
The Datapath.io Solution
Datapath.io can reduce congestion by providing access to the lowest latency networks. Datapath.io will determine network paths based on global monitoring of the Internet. This is 600,000+ network nodes. By monitoring the Internet, Datapath.io will route your traffic over the lowest latency route. This includes un-congested network routes. Then, if a route begins to become congested, the real time updates will allow Datapath.io to send traffic over a different route. Automatically.
Now that you have an understanding of ways to reduce network congestion, you can provide a better user experience, ensure optimal network uptime, and reduce the incidence of packet loss.
To learn more about reducing network congestion, you can download the AWS Network Optimization Whitepaper.