The proliferation of bandwidth-intensive services and applications has driven changes in Quality of Service (QoS) controls. Initially, the primary function of QoS was to ensure that applications like Voice Over IP received the network bandwidth they needed to run effectively. Those QoS controls were often embedded in network devices. But now there are more mouths to feed, so QoS is more about shaping and assigning network bandwidth to satisfy a wider range of applications and services, and is often done within the application itself. What I’d like to address in this post is the importance of QoS for file sharing and collaboration.
There are several approaches to improving collaboration between end users in different offices so they can work effectively on the same project files. Some enterprises opt to replicate files over a WAN. Others concentrate files at a central server, then use WAN acceleration or caching out to various offices or locations. The cloud gateway or cloud-integrated storage approach typically moves data directly between each office and a central volume in the cloud. In all cases, it is critically important to consider the paths these files travel, their usage patterns, change rates and more, as these factors will determine the bandwidth required and influence QoS.
Why QoS Controls Are Important
So, for example, if an enterprise relies on a replication approach that copies and moves data over the network, that application will typically have its own QoS controls. IT can set these controls so that the application never uses more than, say, 10% of the network bandwidth available, even when the network is relatively quiet. That might slow down replication, but it will protect all the other activities on the network. If the system is replicating files between two data centers, for instance, then those two locations may also have a high-priority transactional application running between them. If that transactional activity spikes, QoS protocol ensures that there is still enough bandwidth to accommodate it, and that replication does not unexpectedly overwhelm the network. Similarly, enterprises can take advantage of QoS scheduling, which allows you to modify the settings so that a process such as backup can use more network bandwidth over the weekend or during off-hours.
QoS For File Sharing And Collaboration
Regardless of the solution, strong QoS protocols are essential for file sharing and collaboration. A product without them can bring a network to its knees. We talked to someone just recently who used a software product that stores data at a central location, then caches files out to various locations to improve access and sharing. The solution worked OK with small files. The process used up bandwidth, but only in short, small bursts. The problem arose when end users created and worked with larger files. That data had to move from the office in which it was created to the central location. Then it had to be replicated out to the other offices. Again, with smaller files, this was not much of a problem. But large files such as BIM renderings, medical images and videos can dominate network bandwidth over time, impacting other applications and individual end users. In the case of this one company, the problem was compounded by the fact the data was traveling over the internal network instead of moving directly to the cloud from each office. This combination of problems is one of the main reasons they began talking to Nasuni. They needed a better enterprise storage solution.
The Problem With Mesh Networks
For products that rely on mesh networks among multiple points to share meta data, the problem can have a wider impact across the company, since data might not travel directly between the office and the central location, but rather across multiple connections between offices. The file sharing solution can end up swamping the network at other offices as well. This is why it is important to understand the paths that files take within your company’s network when establishing these controls.
Avoid File Sharing Pain With QoS Controls
All of this pain can be avoided with the right QoS capabilities and an architecture that uses the cloud locally in each office instead of retrieving data from a central data center or creating a mesh among multiple locations. In the example above, if QoS controls were available, the company could have limited the bandwidth consumption of the solution or scheduled it for lower volume periods. Unfortunately, that was not an option.
With Nasuni File Services, clients take advantage of granular control over bandwith usage, scheduling and more. Our customers can throttle network consumption and bandwidth usage depending on their needs. Furthermore, Nasuni’s cloud-centric model of global file sharing means that each office links directly to the same secure, dedicated cloud storage volume, so the activity in one office will not impact the bandwidth available to another. As you look at file sharing and collaboration solutions, keep these points in mind, and consider signing up for a demo to find out how Nasuni gives IT control over QoS and much more.