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NetEqualizer FAQ

General Info

Features and Capabilities.

General Info

What is the NetEqualizer?

Simply put, the NetEqualizer works like putting a traffic cop on a freeway interchange to make sure that everybody can get on and off without gridlock, the left turners, the right turners, and the aggressive drivers who would otherwise cut in line, behave much better with a traffic officer making sure that things go smoothly.  The router between the internet and your subnet is an interchange.

Internally, the NetEqualizer operates similar to a packet sniffer; it examines internet data by listening to all traffic on an internet segment, typically a trunk between a group of users and the internet. As each internet packet comes by on the trunk, an arbitrator examines the packet and learns who the packet is going to (what end user). The NetEqualizer keeps a small data base of the activity going on over an internet segment, then using a set of predefined rules, it determines what users are using excessive bandwidth.  Data rates to higher end users are temporarily slowed as needed to alleviate congestion.

How does the NetEqualizer differ from other similar commercial tools and other tools for Linux?

1)      The NetEqualizer listens to traffic on your network and then makes a decision every ½ second on how to make adjustments to traffic flows. Other tools attempt to dynamically adjust traffic flows with every new packet that is sensed on your network. The NetEqualizer methodology allows very low powered inexpensive hardware to handle very large traffic flows. The NetEqualizer does sacrifice some accuracy; but since data users are generally concerned with their “experience”, the high price of other equipment to obtain extreme accuracy can rarely be cost justified.

2)      The NetEqualizer has an open source component. The lower level technology is public and used by 1000’s of programmers around the world. The momentum behind the open source branch insures that the NetEqualizer technology will continue to evolve.

How can I find unbiased testimonials from others using this technology?

The core technology is in open source, just like Linux, MySQL and other products.  It is very easy to get unbiased input.. We suggest using a Google search on “Bandwidth Arbitrator”, and then look over the pages of postings and results for yourself. This kind of information is pure and generally unedited, see what people are saying and doing with the Bandwidth Arbitrator.

Where should you locate the NetEqualizer?

Locate the NetEqualizer between your network and the internet. Tune the default settings and it will immediately starts relieving congestion.  This “plug and play” ability is the driving vision and design behind the NetEqualizer.  Yes there is some “traditional” optional administration features offered, but we cannot stress the importance of the turn key concept.  The creators of the NetEqualizer ran a small wireless ISP business in Lafayette Colorado and created the NetEqualizer to eliminate costs associated with administering a system to control bandwidth, especially as their business grew.

Who can benefit from this type of product?

Anybody, who purchases bulk internet access and redistributes it to a group of users!

 How does the NetEqualizer know who is “hogging bandwidth”?

The NetEqualizer keeps track of all active users on your network. It keeps a history of how much bandwidth each user is using, how long they have been using it, and how much of your total network capacity is being used. It then applies “intelligent” rules that take all these factors into account. It will slow down the heaviest users as your network becomes more congested.

 What is unique about the NetEqualizer Technology?  

Almost all internet communications have a client server model where the client is sending requests and the server is sending data. This is true for ftp transfers, streaming video and streaming audio. Even if the client and server are sending UDP packets there is always a client server relationship. It so happens that the slowing or delaying the client requests is a much better way to throttle the data back than slowing or queuing the data coming from the server.  The NetEqualizer limits bandwidth by looking at the large user(s) of bandwidth and slowing requests from the client. 

This is radically different than the methods employed by WFQ, TOS and other packet shaping tools. It is the only method that allows some actual control over internet traffic coming into your network.  

The biggest advantage to slowing down client requests is that you get at the source of traffic problems without employing expensive and complex queuing algorithms. 

Does the NetEqualizer cause any delay in a network?

The NetEqualizer is a layer 7 bridge. This means that it can be inserted in any segment of an Ethernet network without introducing enough delay to adversely effect Ethernet packet transmission.

How does the NetEqualizer insure that voice traffic gets priority over data traffic?

The NetEqualizer provides priority for voice traffic by simply slowing down the data traffic on your network. It knows exactly how much data traffic your trunk(s) can carry before the voice traffic is adversely affected. When the data traffic load is too high, it quickly throttles the data traffic back to an acceptable level, thus insuring clear voice traffic.

How does it detect voice traffic?

The NetEqualizer is equipped with a unique feature that finds voice traffic based on pattern recognition. When traffic flows across your network, the NetEqualizer samples traffic and looks inside the IP packets for the specific signatures of voice streams. The pattern recognition is automatic, and always on; NetEqualizer QoS systems are  preconfigured with pattern detection technology for all major IP PBX vendors.

All the other QoS solutions I have seen, require a unit on each side of a trunk to accomplish QoS, how does the NetEqualizer unit provide QoS with a single unit per trunk?

The NetEqualizer technology’s creates slow virtual circuits to throttle data traffic and this can be done from either side of a link.

Can the NetEqualizer be used as a trouble shooting tool?

Yes, the NetEqualizer doubles as a quick and easy trouble shooting tool on any link where there is a potential QoS problem. In a matter of minutes you can be looking at a graphical display depicting your current data and voice traffic. The graphical display is standard and makes it easy to determine if there is a problem with any link in your network.

I am worried about the security risks of the NetEqualizer on our network. Does the web server on the NetEqualizer QoS unit pose a security risk?

The NetEqualizer has 3 layers of security.

1)      The GUI administration interface is password protected

2)      The administration interface has a firewall that can be configured to limit who has access by IP address

3)      The GUI administration interface can be disconnected completely, thus eliminating all external access.

The layered security features of the NetEqualizer provide a solid wall against known security threats.

I am concerned about the effect of running the voice over my existing data network. How will I be able to see the proportion of bandwidth the voice traffic is using on a link?

The NetEqualizer QoS unit has a small built in http server. The http server allows you to remotely access the NetEqualizer QoS administration from a browser. One of the features available via the admin (browser) interface is a graphical display of the current voice and data loads on your network.

How will this system affect our data traffic on our T1 link?

It is true that the NetEqualizer will borrow bandwidth from the data traffic on your link when voice calls are active. It borrows bandwidth with some intelligence, however. It targets the biggest data users which are normally large downloads of data, such as pictures attached to e-mail. Normal web surfing, e-mail, and chat sessions will likely not see any degradation.

How many phone calls can I share on a T1 trunk with the unit in place before experiencing any degradation?

A phone call typically takes about 56kbs or 1/24 of the traffic on a T1 line. If you have typical data loads on your T1 line for data already, you can generally share about 7 simultaneous phone calls without any noticeable response time degradation. Obviously if your T1 line was already maxed out with data traffic you would need to upgrade your data service to handle the additional phone traffic.


Features and Capabilities

We sell bandwidth in service increments, so some users get 128kbs others 256kbs and our premium users get 512kbs service, can we provide this kind of service levels and have them enforced with the NetEqualizer?

Yes you can, the NetEqualizer does allow bandwidth limits on individual users or subnets.

What can we do during busy hour? Business needs necessitate that we over subscribe our bandwidth capabilities and most of the day we can deliver decent service, but occasionally our trunk gets overloaded.

The NetEqualizer has a safety valve that watches over your network called the “default rules” The “default rules” sit around in the background until your trunk becomes 95  percent utilized (this is value is adjustable), then they  kick in and slow down the heaviest bandwidth users. This safety valve is unique to the NetEqualizer product, with it in place customer complaints of slow network speeds drop dramatically.

If the default rules slow some users, then how does it help eliminate customer complaints during busy conditions, aren’t some customers still unhappy?

When our safety net kicks in it typically does not affect the types of activities that users notice. Activities such as: e-mail, chat, music streams, web browsing and even voice streams are generally not heavy bandwidth users and are left untouched. The result is these activities get priority and busy hour complaints are greatly reduced. The service quality improvement is immediate! 

I noticed that the NetEqualizer takes a few seconds to reign in bursts. Can we disable this?

The NetEqualizer takes a few seconds to begin to react to changes in bandwidth speeds by design (we document this in our manual).  You can fudge with the quickness that it reacts by increasing PENALTY_UNIT parameter; but then it may overlimit a bit.  There is no way to completely disable this feature.

If the number of customers on your trunk (times their promised bit rate) exceeds your back bone, then that is where the NetEqualizer sets itself apart. For a huge majority of users, allowing the occasional burst is not an issue when compared to the value the NetEqualizer provides by alleviating gridlock and bandwidth congestion 

If you truly have a enough backbone to handle your peak customer demands, then perhaps a simpler tool that specializes in keeping bandwidth in a tight range would be better. There are many affordable tools that perform tight bandwidth control; but generally they have little flexibility in other bandwidth shaping areas.

What happens if the NetEqualizer fails, will our Network go down?

The NetEqualizer takes advantage of a mature feature already built into the Linux operating system called STP (spanning tree protocol). Two NetEqualizers placed in parallel will automatically set up a master slave relationship where one server will back the other. NetEqualizers come pre-configured to take advantage of this feature. 

What are the Connection limits and how do they work?

Our connection limit feature is designed to keep a host on your network from making or receiving more than a “set amount” of concurrent connections.

There are many uses for this feature
1)      It offers a solid degree of protection from a variety of attacks on your servers.

2)      It also can be used to slow any of the users on your network from generating attacks

3)      It can be used to reduce the load on your router from p2p applications that tend to generate hundreds of connections when they download files. Many p2p applications will attempt to download from 100’s of sources even for a single file.