What Is A Packetshaper?

What Is A Packetshaper?

Packet shaping is a method of categorizing and organizing data in a way that maximizes network performance by regulating data flow in and out of your network. Packetshapers are devices that enable such actions. So, what exactly is a packetshaper?

Packetshapers, also known as traffic shapers are a type of cloud-connected network management tool that lets you measure network application performance, manage web traffic, guarantee quality-of-service (QoS), and control undesirable traffic.

Now, in order to understand packetshapers, you need to know what packet shaping is, methods of packet shaping and why it is necessary.

What Is Packet Shaping?

Traffic shaping or packet shaping is a bandwidth management technique that limits data flow to lesser important networks and prioritizes networks it deems more important in the current situation. It does this by categorizing data using policy rules and prioritizes and compromises according to the instructions programmed into it.

There are two methods of packet shaping. Let us look at them:

1.0. Application Based Traffic Shaping

In this method, we identify the application associated with a particular data packet and then subject them to traffic shaping policies. This is the most common form of traffic shaping. Some of the more controversial implications of application-based traffic shaping include bandwidth throttling of peer-to-peer file-sharing.

2.0. Route-Based Traffic Shaping

Application-based traffic shaping is not a full-proof system. Encryptions can be used to get around application-based traffic shaping and many protocols do it. This is where route-based traffic shaping comes into play. This method will prevent applications from bypassing traffic shaping policies after observing the source of the application and looking at its intended destination. 

How Do Packetshapers Work?

Packetshapers classify traffic by the content and applications they belong to and determine where the value lies best to the end-user. Packetshapers utilize 7-layers of classification, analysis, control, and reporting capabilities that allow for network administrators to regulate and control crucial traffic and keep them moving at desirable speeds considering the bandwidth bottlenecks and prevent single-type traffic from taking over the entire bandwidth.

Methods Of Packet Shaping

Packetshapers can only work on IP packages that are exiting an interface and not on packages that are entering. There are several methods that a shaper may use in order to identify which application that an IP packet attempting to exit an interface belongs to.

After identifying the applications, the shaper will drop or hold the packets in a queue until the determined bandwidth limit is reached. Shapers use algorithms to eventually release all the queued packets. Now, while this may cause latency, it will still be far more efficient than just dumping the packets all at once.

Here are some methods of packet shaping:

Generic traffic shaping (GTS)

This method is used for most of the media and encapsulation data types. What it does:

  • Shapers use a pre-interface basis for this method and refer to access control lists to decide on which traffic needs to be shaped.
  • Integrates shapes and backward explicit congestion notifications (BECNs) at defined rates in order to dynamically adapt the available bandwidth to efficient levels.
  • It responds to resource reservation protocol (RSVP) features when they are signaled over asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) permanent virtual circuits.

Frame Relay Traffic Shaping (FRTS)

This method helps get rid of bottlenecks that may occur in a frame by relaying networks with higher speeds on the central sites and by providing slower data speeds on the branch sites.

Class-Based Traffic Shaping

By this method, the user is capable of shaping traffic on a per-traffic-class basis. That is, they are capable of shaping traffic specified on one or multiple categories of data. This method of shaping also allows users to optimize bandwidth by specifying the average and peak rates of the shaping to their taste. This will allow for more data to be sent than the shaper’s configured rate considering the bandwidth is still available. 

Again, this method allows users to create a hierarchical policy map structure that allows the user to shape traffic by a primary policy-map while other QoS can be placed on a secondary policy map.

Uses Of Packetshapers

Packetshapers enable packet shaping and there are a myriad of uses for packet shaping. Some of the more common uses for traffic shaping are:

  • Customer-based segregation can be done. ISPs may choose to give some customers higher speeds and others with comparatively lower speeds depending on who pays more.
  • If any operation is time-sensitive and has to be done first then they can be given priority and other operations may be delayed slightly with very little harm or problems.
  • If any ISP is serving a business corporation or a packetshaper is owned by a business, then business-oriented traffic can be given priority and faster data speeds so they can serve their customers more efficiently.
  • Sometimes ISPs may choose to cap or limit bandwidth use for a number of applications so they could reduce costs and allow themselves to take in more subscribers. As long as the present customers are satisfied with the capped bandwidth, this method can be used to gain more subscribers and increase income. This method however will limit the unlimited connection the current subscribers enjoy and is usually done without informing the customers. However, no one in practice ever exceeds their data limits and therefore it can be a trade-off worth making.
  • Traffic shapers are crucial for businesses that incorporate tier-based internet systems. For example, ISPs may choose to give priority to premium subscribers and hotel management may choose to give faster data services to their expensive rooms as a way to differentiate between regular and special customers.

Should You Consider Getting A Packetshaper?

Unless you are an ISP or running a business that requires you to set tier-based internet for your workflow, then you do not need to consider a packetshaper. Chances are that the internet you use at hope already goes through a packetshaper. However, in case you do need internet traffic regulation, you can consider a packetshaper for yourself.

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