A network optimizer is a device or a technology stack that optimizes or improves network performance. Historically network optimization has been an in-exact science. For one network optimizers did not provide much visibility or control over performance. And where they did, it was mostly reactive in nature.
Network optimization typically requires extensive networking knowledge involving complex hardware deployments and changes. This contributes to driving costs ever higher in terms of hiring a specialized work force and deploying costly hardware.
Network engineers use a number of different metrics to keep track of the health and performance of their networks. These metrics include internet latency, congestion, packet loss, jitter and throughput. Often though network engineers do not have much visibility into these performance metrics.
Network performance metrics are crucial to determining the end user quality of service and experience. They translate into application level quality of service attributes like page load times for websites, video streaming speeds, VOIP voice quality and online gaming speed.
Why do we need a Network Optimizer?
Network performance attributes are a direct consequence of the routing policies of the internet. Border gateway protocol (BGP) which is the default routing protocol of the internet is performance agnostic. The best path selection algorithm of BGP usually routes internet traffic over the shortest route possible. The shortest route is usually the one with the lowest number of network hops. Since performance metrics are not part of the routing equation, network traffic mostly suffers from latency, jitter and packet loss.
This is where network optimizers come into the picture. The increasing trend of SDN and NetDevOps has allowed the transition to an automated and programmatic way to control and optimize network performance.
What does a Network Optimizer do?
A network optimizer allows engineers to re-implement BGP to make routing decisions based on performance metrics rather than the number of network hops. Network Optimization tools inject a set of performance metrics into the best path selection procedure of BGP. So instead of going over the shortest path, engineers can define a set of policies to make routing decisions based on performance metrics.
Optimizing latency: A network optimizer allows engineers to put in place policies that automatically optimize latency to go over the fastest internet routes with the least latency.
Congestion: Network optimizers build a real-time congestion map of the internet. This map is in many ways similar to the GPS map of a highway. Network optimizers pro-actively track congestion and queing delays in all network prefixes and route around congested ones, in the process increasing speed.
Packet loss: Packet loss is crucial to online applications. Network optimizers actively probe all network prefixes for packet loss and availability and intelligently choose the ones with the lowest packet loss.
Bandwidth: Network Optimizers also allow NetDevOps to optimize bandwidth by creating rules to pick and choose network routes based on their bandwidth requirements.
Jitter: Network optimizers also monitor network jitter and make real-time changes to network policies to route over the paths with the lowest jitter.
Download this Whitepaper to learn how the Datapath.io Network Optimizer can help you improve performance.