Manage Your Bandwidth
Stay on top of your Quality of Service needs with Total Control.
- By Mike Gunderloy
- January 01, 2001
If you run a network, you’ve discovered that Internet
traffic places high demands on available bandwidth. For
example, music file download programs can significantly
tie up resources. Conversely, incoming Web traffic might
overwhelm your organization’s ability to send out email
by not letting SMTP packets through.
Though many packages exist to manage network and Internet
bandwidth—firewalls, proxy servers, and load-balancing
software, to name a few—it’s hard to find a single package
that can handle the largest organization’s needs. Lightspeed
Systems’ Total Control, however, provides one such complete
package with its impressive capabilities.
In its basic configuration, Total Control uses Lightspeed’s
IP Magic technology on a server between your router and
the Internet. This server functions to inspect, prioritize,
filter, dispatch, and potentially modify all IP packets
going in both directions between internal and external
network cards. The IP Magic Manager lets you determine,
among other things, if this server will monitor traffic,
perform Network Address Translation (NAT), boost packet
priority based on source or destination ports, or block
traffic to specific IP addresses.
To use IP Magic effectively, you need a system with at
least two network cards. I experimented on a system parked
outside of my network’s firewall. I found that setting
up basic rules, such as prioritizing traffic by destination
port, is a simple process. Just drag and drop the right
objects (in an interface reminiscent of Visio), double-click
to set properties, and start the IP Magic service.
|IP Magic allows you to shape
and filter network traffic by assembling sets of objects
into an overall policy. In this configuration, traffic
is prioritized according to the target TCP or UDP
port. (Click image to view larger version.)
Starting from such a basic configuration, you can advance
to more complex uses, such as load balancing and traffic
monitoring, by incrementally adding more objects. A well-written
manual does an excellent job of explaining the powerful
options in each dialog box.
This power does, however, come at the price of a steep
learning curve—and it isn’t inexpensive (contact Lightspeed
for pricing). But if you add up what you’re spending on
network interface tools now, you might find this all-in-one
package attractive. You should also expect to spend substantial
time setting up and polishing your configuration; but,
ultimately, this benefits you, because your network interface
will be less of a “black box.” Overall, I was impressed
with Total Control and its balance between ease of use
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.