Quality of Service– Apple.com Vs. ISP

We’ve had an interesting experience.  Our Meru access points are set to load balance the number of connected clients based on bandwidth being used.  One day as we are tracing access point performance, we tracked a user through a day where his/her Macbook would knock off all other clients from the access point it was associated with.  I.e., it alone was pulling so much bandwidth that the access point moved all other clients off (creating nice issues for us in certain areas in terms of coverage).

We politely talked to the user the next day, because at first we feared the Macbook was infected and was going crazy with p2p or similar software.  Instead, we found that the user had bought four or five HD movies over the weekend at home.  They didn’t download there, but then iTunes had a field day when she arrived at school with our 100mbit connection, N wireless at 300 mbit connection speed, etc.

Since then, we’ve downshifted the N wireless network to a max of 130 mbits (and we’ve also been having to upgrade the connections of the access points to gigabit, because the POE 100 mbit runs are overloading).

We’ve also trialed a Palo Alto appliance, which is less expensive than a Packeteer, but the first thing we tested was to limit www.apple.com to no more than 10 mbits of our 100 mbit Internet connection, which appears to work.  If we have more cloud-based backup users, we may have to do something similar (since home broadband upload rates are only .5 mbit, but at our school it can ramp to 100 mbit).

I think these types of issues are going to affect us more in the future, and we will need to work more on setting up QOS for different sites and services.

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