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Implementing Low Latency Networks
A quick look at network latency and how you can reduce it on your long haul connections.

By: John Shepler

If you are frustrated with your network performance, especially those connections going to the Internet or other business locations, you may be suffering from a latency related problem. Let’s take a quick look at achieving lower latency network connections for businesses and organizations:

When you are involved in very demanding applications where maximizing network performance is critical to success, such as high frequency financial trading, it’s clear that you need to focus on minimizing latency. Some companies have gone so far as to co-locate in the same facility as the stock exchanges to be a matter of feet rather than miles from the servers.

Value to Most Enterprises
Most applications are nowhere near that demanding, but do require some attention to bandwidth, latency, packet loss and jitter. These are areas where private lines and MPLS networks shine and the Internet doesn’t do so well. Revisions to the network neutrality doctrine might, and I emphasize might, offer some performance increase for the Internet. That will be done by giving some traffic priority over other traffic.

Still, if you want to take control of your destiny, you need control of all of your network connections and you’ll only get that with services that you own or can lease with strict performance guarantees.

Applications Requiring Latency Attention
What common applications are highly sensitive to latency issues? Anything real time certainly is. That includes VoIP telephone systems, any network voice services, teleconferencing and telepresence.

Slightly more tolerant are interactive services that are not strictly real time. Think cloud servers. You issue commands or requests and the server sends back responses. Delays in cloud server response have come as a shock to some companies that thought they would get more performance, not less, when they moved from local data centers to the cloud. After all, cloud resources are virtually infinite, aren’t they? Even if they are, you’ve got to take the link between you and the cloud into consideration. Any latency caused by limited bandwidth, network congestion or equipment induced time delays are going to show up as an unexpected pause in data going up and down between you and the cloud.

Local Networks, Too
If you upgrade to higher performance network connections, will your latency problems go away? Not unless you also manage your local network to minimize latency on critical applications. You’ll need multiple classes of service so that voice packets get priority and interactive cloud packets are next in line. Big data transfers, email, downloading videos and even casual Web browsing have to take a lower priority and they generally can. Companies that are just implementing enterprise VoIP to replace old-school analog phones are more likely to run into these issues than those who have worked the bugs out of their networks over the years.

What class of network connection service is optimum for your needs? There are a wide variety of private and public connections, each with a particular performance and price tag. Why not get a fresh set of low latency bandwidth quotes available at your business locations. This service is fast and the cost can be lower than you expect.

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