Heatmaps are the best way to view your External Links’ behavior

Network traffic is growing every day. We’ve known this for years, however the Internet events revolving around COVID-19 lock-downs showed us how dramatically it can grow over a short period of time. That is why BENOCS created the External Links Heatmap for Capacity Planning.

the external links heatmap consists of a time series graph and a daily peak utilization table.

If you were following the news in spring 2020, you might remember Netflix announcing a reduction in stream quality for 30 days in order to ease the strain of video traffic on ISPs. And if you don’t remember this announcement, you probably remember at some point thinking “Why can’t I enhance my video quality?” while watching Netflix during lock-down. This happened because the new (at the time) lock-down regulations caused many to turn to the Internet for their work, social, educational and entertainment needs, which caused an unprecedented strain on the network. How?, you may wonder. For one thing, image content, specifically video, is very heavy, which creates a lot of traffic. In addition to that, more users used the Internet at the same time, usually trying to access image content, causing loads of Internet traffic jams. Therefore, as a popular video streaming company, Netflix realized the best and only way to provide seamless streaming during a network crisis was to reduce their network traffic without cutting off any customers.

So, what does this anecdote have to do with BENOCS’ capacity planning? Well, as you can imagine, operators were overwhelmed by those surges in Internet traffic. Additionally, the tools they used to monitor the traffic, specifically external links, were too slow and complex to solve the issues fast enough. Therefore, they couldn’t know which areas were affected the most as well as who is filling their pipes, and consequently where adding more capacity was really making a difference.

What we mean by external links

As someone living in the era of the Internet, you are probably most familiar with the term “link” as an abbreviation for “hyperlink” or website address. As someone who is working in network operations, architecture, engineering or IT, you probably think of the connection or “link” between routers. When we talk about external links, we mean the links between routers sitting at the edge of the Internet backbone. These are the links that exchange traffic between different networks in the internet, e.g. a CDN and an ISP.

Although operators always maintained a close eye on these links, the pandemic proved that, just like their network’s capacity, their methods needed an upgrade. What they needed was a tool that gave them an immediate overview of their links’ traffic behavior, which could be filtered through quickly in just a few clicks, allowing them to see potential overload of interconnects in real-time. That is what inspired BENOCS to create the External Links Heatmap.

The External Link Heatmap

The BENOCS External Links Heatmap consists of two main graphs: a time series and a daily peak utilization table. Additionally, both elements contain customizable filters, such as date-range and a utilization-threshold slider. These features allow users to determine which links are over-utilized and for how long as well as define at what percent of utilization a link is considered highly utilized. On top of that, users can filter for specific routers, interfaces or AS numbers as well as whether the traffic is going in or out of the network.

The pandemic may be slowing down, and lock-downs may soon be a thing of the past (hopefully for a long time), however, Internet traffic continues to grow at unprecedented rates. Therefore, its time to consider exploring new options for network traffic analytics before the next quick surge in traffic.

Are you interested? Check out our product webpage for more information or directly get in touch with us today!