Solve your network's transport problems

Having trouble with packet delays or roundtrip times? Dropping packets? Warren Heaton serves up the cure for network transport problems in this week's Consultant's Corner.

Having trouble with timeout errors on your network? Worried about high levels of network utilization?

Cisco Fusion may help. What is it? It’s an integrated network architecture designed to solve networking problems in small- to medium-size businesses. Cisco divides small- to medium-size network problems into three categories: media problems, protocol problems, and transport problems.
In past columns, we've examined Cisco Fusion, media problems, and protocol problems:
Transport problems occur when high demands for bandwidth are placed on the network. In today’s modern networks carrying voice, video, and data, bandwidth is at a premium. Additionally, voice and video transmissions have very little tolerance for delays, retransmissions, and errors.

Symptoms of transport problems include application timeout errors, delays, and high levels of network utilization. Cisco has made some specific recommendations for network utilization:
  • Ethernet segments should not exceed 40 percent network utilization.
  • On Ethernet, there should be no more than one CRC per one million bytes of data on a network segment.
  • Token Ring segments should not exceed 70 percent network utilization.
  • WAN links should not exceed 70 percent network utilization.
  • Broadcasts and multicasts packets should not exceed 20 percent of overall traffic.
  • Response time should be less than 100 milliseconds.

The solution to transport problems is simple but expensive. If more bandwidth is needed to carry voice and video, high bandwidth solutions should be implemented. This means upgrading the network to Fast Ethernet (100 MB Ethernet) or ATM switching, which can be very costly. However, if properly implemented, new high bandwidth solutions can carry voice and video. Ultimately, this may reduce telephone and video teleconferencing costs. Additionally, using a Voice-over IP solution could help eliminate long distance charges. In any event, bandwidth demands are going to continue to grow, making any investment in network infrastructure worthwhile.

This concludes our overview of using Cisco Fusion architecture to solve problems in small- to medium-size networks. In future articles, I will examine network problems in more depth—and I'll suggest detailed solutions for your networking ills.

Warren Heaton CCDA, CCNA, MCSE+I is the Cisco Program Manager for A Technological Advantage in Louisville, KY. He’s also a science fiction buff.

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