The Challenges of Latency and How We Mitigate Them

For anyone involved in network management, latency is one of the most unassailable constraints. Like the vaunted hoverboards promised to us from Back to the Future II, it seems like it should be one of those problems that could be solved. Or at least, almost solved. (No one is really suggesting we could exceed the speed of light. Yet.)

In fact, like hoverboards, technological advances are being made to mitigate the effects of latency and push the speed of packet distribution as close to the speed of light as possible. Let’s take a quick look at these developments.

Why Latency is Such a Tough Technical Nut to Crack

Latency can be defined as the delay between cause and effect. For our specific needs, it is the length of time that it takes a packet to go from launch to receipt.

Hypothetically, if you had a single fiberoptic cable that ran from you to the destination, the very fastest it could get there is the speed of light (minus a small amount of resistance and the processing time of the computers at either end.)

However, networks are not made up of single fiber strands going to every conceivable destination; traffic gets routed from node to node, and just like the stoplights and merges on your commute, each minor shift will slow your progress.

Just like cities have civil planners to devise traffic routes to minimize delays and bottlenecks, we help our clients devise ways to optimize transfer speeds as well.

Bandwidth First

More bandwidth is by no means a panacea, but it is the first thing to check. Just like a certain stoplight can bring your commute to a crawl, not having a big enough “pipe” for the information you want to transmit will have a great effect.

Smart Resource Management

The next thing to do is to make sure that the resources are freed to do the most important work. We can optimize firewalls to prevent 3rd party demands on the network, improve caching so that low-priority packets don’t choke the flow, and we can improve the hardware, as well as employ conscientious colocation.

This will allow the most in-demand resources to be kept close at hand — and they’ll load faster too. But more importantly, latency will be reduced across the network.

In-Depth Improvements

If those improvements don’t satisfy you and you’re still looking to push the latency envelope, we can offer Dark Fiber Ethernet in certain markets. We work with dozens of Tier I carriers, telecos and fiber construction companies to offer dynamic carrier blends for any need. These solutions offer dedicated fiber lines and multiple provider redundancies.

Future Improvements?

Technology Institutes across the country are developing innovations that will further challenge longstanding latency issues. From new chipsets to revolutionary network-management infrastructure, you can rely on us to stay up to speed with these developments and implement them as they become feasible.

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