Jumping Hurdles in Optimal Routing

Sockeye hones its bandwidth optimization service for enterprises using multiple ISPs.

Sockeye Networks Inc. Wednesday upgraded its GlobalRoute bandwidth optimization service to give enterprises using multiple Internet service providers a more granular view of their traffic patterns.

The new GlobalRoute 3.0 lets multi-homing enterprises—those that route traffic over more than one ISP to achieve the most cost-effective and performance-efficient paths—map their ISPs contract terms into load balancing decisions. ISP contracts can include more than a dozen billing tiers that charge high rates for spilling over a specified tier, and manually configuring the many differing terms and conditions can be challenging.

EBSCO Publishing Co., in Ipswich, Mass., began using GlobalRoute in October, 2002, to gain more control over traffic routing than it could get using BGP. "We were at the whim of whatever the BGP meshes dictated," said Mike Gorrell, CIO and senior vice president at EBSCO.

For its online periodical service, EBSCO uses four ISPs, two of which are managed by GlobalRoute, Gorrell said. The technology, which analyzes all possible links for a stream of traffic, changed the distribution of bandwidth over the ISPs and improved response time for its customers.

"It probably shaved off 20 percent to 25 percent of the latency that people saw," Gorrell said. "Thats coming from a pretty fast response time to begin with. Well take it, but it wasnt incredibly dramatic."

From Gorrells perspective, the most dramatic benefit of GlobalRoute was that it enabled EBSCO to balance its traffic among its service providers and avoid getting bumped up into a higher billing tier by any one provider.

"As you approach half of a T3 capacity, theres a cliff that you fall off of in terms of pricing. You pay for almost a T3," Gorrell said. "What was most compelling [about GlobalRoute] was that is allowed us to even out our providers."

As for the latest version, Gorrell said it is interesting, but the benefits of the service are in the core capability. "The latest release is nice, but it wasnt an essential upgrade," Gorrell said. "It does give us more to play with, more control."

Complex billing model support was incorporated into the latest version because service providers use differing billing mechanisms, and contracts often have rising coverage charges from one tier to the next, which are difficult to calculate manually, according to Brendan Hannigan, vice president of marketing at Sockeye Networks, in Waltham, Mass.

"One thing is for sure, no two service providers have exactly the same techniques for billing," Hannigan said. "This adds a lot more rich knowledge of the actual contracts."

Version 3.0 also offers executive level reporting, giving users a more detailed look at the performance of routing to destinations. It summarizes performance results and identifies such metrics as destinations that have the most outages and those that are most often rerouted.