Top 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Bandwidth Grows with Your Company

Updated: May 05, 2009

Top 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Bandwidth Grows with Your Company

Bandwidth is the rate at which data flows in and out of your network and Web sites. Bandwidth is the life's blood of your business. If there's not enough blood, the body gets light-headed and unsteady. Lose enough blood and unconsciousness ensues, followed by death. It is vital to provide your networked enterprise with enough bandwidth for today's needs as well future requirements. Here are some steps you can take to ensure an adequate bandwidth supply for your business as it grows:

1. Know your bandwidth needs. Go to and download the popular ntop network usage monitor, which runs on most flavors of Linus and Win32. An improvement on the Unix top command, ntop can:

  • sort network traffic according to many protocols;
  • show network traffic sorted according to various criteria;
  • display traffic statistics;
  • store on disk persistent traffic statistics in RRD format;
  • identify the identity (e.g., email address) of computer users;
  • passively (i.e., without sending probe packets) identify the host OS;
  • show IP traffic distribution among the various protocols;
  • analyze IP traffic and sort it according to the source/destination;
  • display IP Traffic Subnet matrix (who's talking to whom?);
  • report IP protocol usage sorted by protocol type;
  • act as a NetFlow/sFlow collector for flows generated by routers (e.g., Cisco and Juniper) or switches (e.g., Foundry Networks); and
  • produce RMON-like network traffic statistics.

2. Project your bandwidth needs. This is where excruciatingly detailed network usage stats come in handy. If you know what network traffic each part of your business is generating, and you know the ways in which you're going to grow each part of your business and by how much, then projecting network traffic is just an exercise in multiplication and addition. You don't need a crystal ball, just a spreadsheet.

3. Secure your bandwidth needs. Make sure that your bandwidth provider knows how much bandwidth your project you will need over the next two years. Make sure you get a good, reliable answer to the question, "How are you going to provide the bandwidth I need?"

4. Ask what factors trigger addition of more bandwidth to your hosting data center ; how near to the trigger levels the center is now; where the bandwidth will come from; when was the last time bandwidth was expanded and by how much. If you don't get satisfactory answers from your current bandwidth provider, start shopping around and keep shopping until you do. Then switch.

5. Shop for your bandwidth needs. Even if your current bandwidth provider answers your questions perfectly, do not be complacent. Keep your bandwidth needs handy in an easily digestible form and feed them to the sales reps of every other bandwidth provider you encounter. Put out a Request For Quote at least once per year. Keep your current bandwidth provider on its toes with a very sharp pencil in hand. If you find a deal that's sufficiently better than the one you have to warrant the effort of switching bandwidth providers, do not hesitate to switch. Just be sure you thoroughly check out the prospective new bandwidth provider first.

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