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IOS Performance Monitor – A powerful tool for negotiating SLA with your Service Provider

The only way to be sure of delivering highest quality of experience is by actually measuring QoE of real traffic. In IOS 15.1.3T, we introduced a new embedded monitoring capability to collect packet loss, jitter, delay and response time information for performance evaluation of data, voice and video services. The feature is called IOS Performance Monitor.  (See yesterday’s blog on User Traffic Analysis by Medianet performance Monitor.)   

In December of last year, Cisco IT was running a medianet pilot program for the new IOS performance monitor feature as their ongoing effort to provide high quality and improved services to end users. The pilot was designed to support 50 remote sites equipped with the ISR-891 routers. Two of the pilot sites were small Cisco offices and the remaining was home offices. I was lucky enough to be selected for the pilot.

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User Traffic Analysis by Medianet Performance Monitor

Network operators are tasked with providing a foundation network that can deliver a variety of applications to their users at any time. For the most part, the network is in the background, humming away while users enjoy the applications. However; once in a while, the application will slow down, or hiccup, and the first suspect is usually the network.

Figure 1 - Poor video quality caused by packet loss.

Sometimes this is not without just cause; the network may be composed of various administrative domains in various states of work, and many things that are outside the domain of control of any network operator (bad fiber, rain clouds, bulldozers, floods etc.). There is the common experience of the ping test passing, but still something wrong within the network. Or the other case, where the ping fails intermittently, but there is no clue about the location of the problem.

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How to get IPv6, now

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know by now that the IPv4 address pool is exhausted and you need to start using IPv6.  In fact, you may even be convinced.   How can you get your network connected to the growing IPv6 capable Internet, ideally in time for World IPv6 Day

Start with your Internet service provider (ISP).  Although not every ISP currently provides IPv6 service, the list grows in proportion to customer demand.  Free, Comcast, and Softbank are just some examples of prominent ISPs who have large scale public IPv6 trials and rollouts.  Even if your ISP has not announced an IPv6 plan, contact them.  You might be able to become early adopter on an unannounced trial.

In the event that your provider has not yet seized the opportunity to provide IPv6 service, you can seek out a public tunnel broker, a service that allows you to “tunnel” IPv6 packets across an IPv4-only connection to the IPv6 capable Internet.  A number of tunnel broker providers like Hurricane Electric, SixXS and Freenet6 provide tunneling points of presence at many locations worldwide and will gladly issue an IPv6 prefix (or several!) for no charge.  Some tunnel brokers will even provide a BGP feed.  This is an excellent way to start gaining experience with IPv6 connectivity in your network.

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Medianet Readiness Assessment: Is your network ready for medianet?

Video applications such as telepresence, desktop video conferencing, video surveillance, digital signage and WebEx have become an essential part of the enterprise work environment, greatly improving efficiency and productivity in organizations.

Enterprise network IT operators are adding more and more of these applications on their IP network. Due to the nature of video traffic, these applications exert more demand on the existing IP network. If a network is not capable of handling these applications, then the application performance will degrade, resulting in a frustrating user experience. In this situation most of the network operators will tend to solve this problem by adding more bandwidth and capacity into the network, but that may not always solve this problem. 

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Convince Your Boss to Participate in World IPv6 Day

At this point, the technical community should already understand that IPv4 addresses are gone and that IPv6 is the best way to keep the Internet growing. Although we have known for years that this day would arrive, the community doesn’t always see the need to act. The common refrain is that there’s no killer app and no return on investment. Well, the Internet itself is the killer app – if a business uses the Internet for any reason at all today then that business needs deal with the fact that the public Internet will deploy IPv6 and react accordingly.  That encompasses a pretty broad set of scenarios – hosted services, online banking, student registration, government services, telecommuter access, remote site connections, backup network connections, partner sites, on-line advertising, retail, social media … the list goes on. 

Clients have started to demand IPv6 accessible services.  The U.S. Government is demanding IPv6 compliance as a condition in its procurements and organizations like ARIN will require IPv6 accessibility of vendor as a condition on their external contractors.  In the rapidly growing mobile telephony space, providers are looking to roll out native IPv6 service in order to reduce the network complexity and the reliance on Network Address Translation services.  Enterprises that provide native IPv6 connectivity will have an advantage in this space.

You may already have some ideas or plans to roll out or test IPv6, or may have spent some time testing in the lab. But how can you really see if your enterprise is ready to provide IPv6 services?

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