What is a Bandwidth Manager?

A bandwidth manager is a tool that can change the rate and volume of traffic flows on your network in a controlled manner. It also can make decisions about what types of traffic or which users have priority when there is more traffic than there is bandwidth available, thus "shaping" traffic flows to sets of user-defined behaviors. With a 100Mb/s Ethernet LAN, for example, all traffic travels at 100 megabits per second, and all devices on the LAN have equal access to the bandwidth. Normally, this is OK because you want things to run as fast as possible most of the time, and Ethernet devices are designed to share the 100Mb/s bandwidth on an equal basis. However your upstream internet connection has less bandwidth (most likely), which creates a bottleneck that is random without a bandwidth management device. A bandwidth management device allows you to reduce and control the flows toward your upstream bottleneck based on criteria that you select. You may also have service level requirements that cannot be met randomly; in this case a bandwidth manager allows you to allocate bandwidth to higher class users in a way that allows them to get a higher quality of service.

What is QoS?

QoS is just a fancy term for bandwidth management. By reducing flows and controlling users and traffic you naturally create a higher quality of service for everyone on your network. By engineering your network and user flows properly using our bandwidth management device you can provide a high QoS for all of your users and clients.

What Features are Available?

The ET/BWMGR has 100s of features and competes well with the highest end products. A description of the capabilities of the software can be found in the ET/BWMGR Features page.

What's is Bursting?

Bursting is a powerful, trigger-driven feature of the ET/BWMGR that allows you to select a "threshhold" bandwidth utilization at which point more stringent limits can be enforced. It also allows for the setting of a time limit that only will permit bursting for a specific length of time. Bursting allows you to provide a higher level of service when resources are available to do so. Its fine-tunability creates virtually unlimited flexibility is developing tiered service levels and dynamic control of traffic flows.

Why Do I Need a Bandwidth Management Product?

There are several specific target environments for the bandwidth management products, but the concept of bandwidth management is of importance to both large and small internet users. Unless you have much more bandwidth then you need all of the time, a bandwidth manager can provide significant improvement in bandwidth utilization, and in effect, can yield increased productivity with less bandwidth. Virtually everyone with an internet connection can benefit from bandwidth management.

Doing More With Less Bandwidth

The most important reason to use a bandwidth management device is to be able to get more out of less bandwidth. What's the value of being able to double the number of clients that you can service with a particular amount of bandwidth? What's the value of being able to offer services that appear similar to those provided by larger competitors? What's the value of being able to charge more for a higher quality of service? All of these are made possible with the addition of bandwidth management to your network.

ISPs - The Illusion of Unmitigated Bandwidth

In today's environment, it's necessary and possible to provide customers with high-speed feed (via cable, wireless, etc), but there is pressure to provide these services at a low cost. Clearly, you cannot allow customers to use their full capabilities, because you dont have enough backbone bandwidth to handle such usage on an ongoing basis. The ET/BWMGR product line allows you to control your customer's usage so that you can manage your critical backbone bandwidth. In today's world where the "appearance" of unmitigated bandwidth is critical, having a product that can give your customers the feeling that they have all the bandwidth they need is of the utmost importance if you want to remain competitive.

Universities - Get in Control

Colleges and universities provide a challenging environment for network operators. Unlike most ISPs whose customer base is not home and logged in continuously, educational institutions might get 20 hours a day of high and randomly distributed usage. The ability to control virtually thousands of simulantious users at high throughput is a challenging task that most products on the market simply can't handle. With our multiprocessor implementation, the ET/BWMGR can do what you need to do.

How Does the ET/BWMGR Work?

Well, exactly how it works is a trade secret. But the ET/BWMGR is a complex bandwidth management tool that gives you precise control of any flow you can define with addresses, ports or protocols. It does this by physically controlling the traffic passing through a target interface for particular sets of user-defined criteria, and by reducing flows via TCP window manipulation. While controlling the traffic, it does not affect any other traffic passing through the interface, so it is possible to limit traffic from selected services without any effect on non-limited services or workstations. This allows you to only limit the throughput of certain devices, networks or services, while enhancing the bandwidth availability of higher priority users and services. You can alternatively classify all of your traffic and allocate all bandwidth based on specific criteria. See our technology comparision to see how we measure up to the competition.

Can I Control Traffic in Both Directions?

Yes of course. The ET/BWMGR controls traffic bi-directionally, allowing you to completely control traffic in either or both directions through an interface with a single policy. You can also completely control a virtual host on the same machine as the bandwidth manager or control traffic for your entire intranet with a single unit.

How Much Traffic Can I Manage?

With an unlimited license and the fastest quad core processor available, the ET/BWMGR can manage 1.5 million packets/second. Depending on your average packet size, that equates to 3-5 Gb/s. Of course at the very high end you won't be able to use all of the product's features. But the upper limit for "most" customers is 2 Gb/s (a full duplex gigabit link).

How Many Limits or Policies Can I Define?

There is virtually no limit to the number of rules or policies that you can define with the ET/BWMGR. You can control thousands of hosts and devices individually or create groups with almost unlimited flexibility. There are many factors that determine the capacity of a particular system, and they are difficult to quantify. The product is optimized to use IP addresses, which allows an ISP or university to manage every IP in their domain space. 30-50K addressess is quite possible without losing too much performance.

How many Partitions or Flows can the ET/BWMGR control?

Partitions are a concept that is unique to "other" products and has no meaning to us. There are no limits on the number of flows or connections that can be controlled by any of our software or hardware offerings.

Do I have to renumber my Network to Use the ET/BWMGR?

No. The ET/BWMGR runs as a transparent bridge (although you could run it as an IP router if you prefer). It can run on any number of interfaces, allowing you to build a multi-port Ethernet switch with bandwidth management.

Is the ET/BWMGR a Single Point of Failure?

The answer to this question is, yes and no. It depends. Normally the answer is "yes". Like all of the hubs, switches and routers in your network, your ET/BWMGR system will cause traffic to stop flowing if it fails under normal circumstances. Luckily, our software is extremely reliable, and the occurrance of such a problem is very rare.

So why is the answer "it depends"? Because our hardware solutions have an option called "Hardware Failover" that eliminates the concerns over the device being a single point of failure. When the ET/BWMGR appliance fails or is powered down, the ethernet ports connect together, and allow your traffic to flow. For more details, see our description of the ET/BWMGR Failover System. Note that you can also purchase failover hardware for your system if you buy our licenses.

Is the ET/BWMGR also a Firewall?

The ET/BWMGR has firewalling capabilities however it is not a full-featured firewall product, nor is it intended to be a primary firewall for a substantial network. You can block services and hosts with the firewall capabilities and it is suitable as a general firewall. If you need extensive firewall features its recommended that you front-end the bandwidth management device with a standalone, firewall product.

Is the ET/BWMGR Software or Hardware?

The answer is, it's both. Actually the ET/BWMGR is software, however in the form of an appliance it would appear to be hardware. Assuming that most people consider a router to be a hardware solution (although its really just software running on a custom hardware platform), we'll say its both.You can buy software licenses for your own hardware, or you can buy completely tested and well-supported hardware solutions from us.

What Licenses are Available?

Software license are available for 2Mb/s up to 10Gb/s in 1Mb/s increments up to 100MBS, 25Mb/s increments up to 1Gb/s and 1Gb/s increments up to 10Gb/s. You can buy whatever you need and upgrade as you need it.

What Happens if I Exceed my License Limit?

The software will enforce the license limit. If you have T1 with a 2Mb/s license, you can't really exceed the license. But if you have a low-speed license and the system is on a 100Mb/s network you may exceed the license. The software will average over short periods of time so that bursts are acceptable, however you may have to set an interface limit equal to the license to allow the ET/BWMGR to make sure you don't go over the limit. If your license exceeds or is equal to your internet bandwidth, then there is no problem. If the license limit is exceeded for more than 20 seconds or so, it gets ugly (packet will be dropped, warnings will be logged. So you want to make sure you don't exceed the license limits. Setting a bandwidth limit allows you to control your costs so it's the method that most customers use.

What's a Software Appliance

Our Software appliance is our complete system solution that you use on your own hardware. The CD appliance allows you to get all of the correct software versions, our optimized kernel, our driver fixes and optimizations and to install them using our automated procedure from CD. Since we know the layout of your system and exactly what versions of software you are using, we can provide greater assistence to you if you have problems. The CD appliance option includes our auto-update utility and access to our update server for 1 year.

What's the Advantage of the Hardware Solution

There are two main advantages to buying our hardware solution. The first and foremost is that we have tested and qualified the hardware to perform to an optimum level. Every motherboard is different, as are all ethernet controllers, and using the correct hardware can make a big difference in performance. We spend at least a month qualifying our hardware. Since we are totally familiar with the hardware, and we have the exact hardware in our labs, we can solve your problems quickly and are usually aware of most problems and can provide immediate solutions.

The second advantage is that we fully support our hardware, and if there is a problem we will help to solve the problem. Its not worth our effort to diagnose problems on single, random systems. So if you have some strange problem hardware that we haven't tested, its up to you to solve it. We provide the CD as an aid for you to quickly build a system, but we can't support every possible problem that might occur. Testing before you purchase is highly recommended.

How Much Does it Cost?

The ET/BWMGR software requires a software authorization key that has a cost that ranges from $500 to $37,500, depending on throughput and system performance. Please see the document v5.0 licensing for specific information and pricing.

Our hardware solutions are all featured on our web site and have various costs depending on systems capability

Can I Get a Hardware Appliance to Evaluate?

The simple answer is "No". Our business model allows us to provide a much lower price point than our competition, and the model doesn't allow for us to send thousands of dollars worth of equipment to everyone with an interest in the product. It's also not practical to send hardware into foreign countries with today's shipping costs. The cost of providing demo units is baked into the price of the product, which is one of the reasons that our competitors products cost 5 times more than ours.

How Can I Evaluate The Bandwidth Manager?

We have a fully functional system image that you can download and use to build a bootable USB Drive. Please see the USB Demo Page for a complete description.

We recommend you evaluate the product whether you are interested in the hardware or software solution. The USB demo is the same software that runs on our appliances with the exception that it won't honor anything except a Demo license.

Buying a Bandwidth Management Product

If you decide that you want to purchase one of our products, you can simply purchase from our web site. To purchase a hardware solution, just find the product you want, select the options, and add it to your cart. If you need a quote with shipping costs, you can "checkout" and print a quote without completing the order. Note that shipping costs change regularly so quotes are only very close estimates. To complete the order, complete the checkout process and specify your payment type.

To purchase a Software license, you can select the product from Bandwidth Control -> Software and add it to the cart. You'll need to provide a text file that you can either generate with the demo software or after you've booted the full product.

To purchase an activation key, you MUST purchase online (See Bandwidth Control > Software).

What is a License Request?

A license request is a file that you generate on your hardware to request a license. It provides us with the info we need to generate a license file. To generate a license request file, run the following command:

bwmgr_license license-request

The command will generate a file named BWMGR_LICENSE_REQUEST in the current directory. You'll need to sent that file to us somehow. You can either cut and paste it into a ticket or email it to us as an attachment.

You must provide this code to us when you buy a software license. If you buy a hardware license, your activation key will be associated with the "key" port on your system. Refer to the hardware appliance manual for information for the particular appliance you purchase.

What is a "License"

Your license is an encrypted file that is installed on your system. The license allows your system to start with whatever license you purchased.

Starting the System

Whether you purchase a software or hardware solution, you will need to start your system with an "activation key". The key is a string of characters that you get from us that is associated with the serial number of the system's key interface. When you start the bandwidth manager with a valid key, the product will run continuously. Suppose when you generated your serial number you used bge0 on your system. You would start the appliance as follows:

bwmgr_license start

Typically this command will be in your startup script.

What if I have a Software License and my System Fails?

Systems do fail, but there is a cost of replacing them and maintaining records and determining that licenses are not being misusded. There is a $200. replacement charge to issue a replacement license. Note that your License Key is unique to your machine. If you change or move the software to a new machine (even with the same ethernet card), you will need a new license file and incur the replacement charge.

How do I buy and maintain Support for my purchase?

You can purchase subscriptions by logging into and accessing your account. After logging in, you will see your license key in the My License Keys box on the right side of the page. Simply click on the key you want to upgrade, and you'll be presented with your options. Note that you cannot renew a subscription more than 30 days in advance of its expiration. We do not notify you when your support has expires, so you'll need to keep track.

What About Support?

Some of our competitors charge more for support than we do for our product. Some customers seem to think that "support" means that we now work for you, and are somehow obligated to walk you through every aspect of setting up the system. This, however, is not the case.

We support the software in terms of functioning, and we answer questions about how the features work. We may point you at a section of the manual, or make a suggestion of what feature to use. Basic support only includes this kind of support.

Premium support, which is an additional charge, will get you more complicated explanations and suggestions. We may suggest strategies or methods for achieving certain goals.

Under no circumstances will we debug your network or a complicated ruleset for you. It's simply impossible for us to find a problem in some big mess created by a customer who has never read the manual. If you have a specific problem, set up a small set of rules and a controlled test and present us with the results.

We also can't debug problems interfacing with other equipment. We'll certainly tell you what settings are available and guide you as to what might help, but if your system can't communicate with your ABC model switch, you'll have to figure it out yourself. We don't provide network consulting, and the NICs we use are standard Intel and Broadcom devices. There is adequate information on these devices in the public domain. Typically such problems will be resolved while running the USB demo, so if they come up later it usually has little to do with our product.

One thing we ask is that you don't call us on the telephone. All support is provided via an online ticketing system. Although impersonal, this documents all corresponce which avoids he said - she said problems in the future, allows multiple people to review the problems without redundancy, and avoids the time wasted by people who speak different languages trying to understand each other. We want to provide the best support we can for as many customers as we can, and in order to achieve this, you might have to wait an hour or 2 for your answer. During business hours, you'll find us to be quite prompt. Our system has worked for many years and it allows us to do a very good job supporting many 100s of customers at a time. Unlike with some of our competitors, you'll always get an answer from someone who understands the question; you'll get the right answer instead of a runaround.

Next: ET/BWMGR v4 HTML Interface (GUI)