Many of our customers have recently started to pay more attention to their local area networks, or LANs. This is good news, as our statistics show that in more than half of network problems the source is actually the in-building LAN or the campus network, not the wide-area network (WAN) which has been the usual suspect for years.

LANs are now ubiquitous. Most broadband-connected homes have at least 4-port LAN switch in the modem, and in a modern office building a single room has 3-4 Ethernet sockets. Many new laptops have 1 Gbit/s Ethernet connections, and their wireless is up to 100-200Mbit/s with 802.11n.

Our solid view is that successfully engineering and maintaining a growing LAN needs measurements down to each individual port of the network. Client computers and wireless access points can now easily generate some 300-400Mbit/s traffic peaks, overloading the usual 1 or even 10 Gbit/s trunk connections in a flash. Most new LAN switches include sophisticated methods for prioritizing and throttling traffic, but these features are easily left unused if there are no measurements to back up the prioritization policy.

I hope that this enlightenment soon reaches 3G mobile networks too. But more about it later.


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