Allot Offers Ops Way To Handle the 'Peers'

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Minneapolis-based Allot Communications Ltd. is eyeing the cable market with a new bandwidth-management device designed to help operators control the amount of peer-to-peer traffic flowing out of cable-modems.

"The biggest opportunity is peer-to-peer and unauthorized networks," Greg Hutterer, director of carrier sales for the bandwidth-management provider, said. "Peer-to-peer is starting to cause some real pain from an applications standpoint."

Allot's NetEnforcer bandwidth manager already has been sold in the enterprise market and to universities, he said.

As peer-to-peer programs, like the KaZaA and Morpheus music download services, increase in popularity, universities are finding that 10 times more data is flowing out of their networks than flowing in. That causes delays and bottlenecks. "What the universities are seeing, cable will see," Hutterer predicted.

Allot is pitching cable a quality of service solution that prioritizes data traffic, sets and manages service level agreements, and provides fairness for all users.

Implementing those policies improves network availability and performance and reduces bandwidth and networking costs, Hutterer said.

Allot's NetEnforcer — priced between $5,000 and $35,000 — sits between an operator's cable modem termination system and the Internet. The software allows operators to rate limit the upstream data flow. "It can reduce file exchanges by noncustomers consuming valuable resources from you customers," he said.

Limits can be set according to time of day or bandwidth usage. For example, people using the Morpheus service who tries to tap into a home PC with a cable modem might find the file they want to download takes longer to complete because upstream rate limits are in effect, he said.

NetEnforcer also can help operators ferret out the upstream bandwidth hogs who might not realize they are using so much upstream capacity. The software is perfect for cable wired multiple dwelling units, both to stop shared networks and to provide equal service across dozens of apartments, Hutterer said.

"DOCSIS [Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification] can't see network address translation devices today," Hutterer said. Those devices are used by consumers to setup clandestine broadband wireless networks across several homes using one cable modem. NetEnforcer can help find those bandwidth pirates.

Allot's software allows operators to see who their top users are, what servers content is flowing from and what parts of the system are carrying the most traffic. NetEnforcer can track the number of connections per IP address, bandwidth utilization and dropped packets, all in a web-based graphical form for engineers to see. "It's updated in real time," he said.

NetEnforcer can help operators who don't have DOCSIS plant to provide service level agreements with rate limitations and the like. "It also provides the ability to charge more for those who use more bandwidth," Hutterer said.

He added that Allot will be PacketCable compliant and the company has spent a lot of time working with Cable Television Laboratories Inc. to ensure its product will work with cable.

Hutterer said that, in the end, cable operators will have to spend money somewhere in their operation as peer-to-peer traffic grows. "The question is, are you going to spend money on wide area network upgrades or node upgrades or CMTS [cable-modem termination system] splits or do you want to put it into a policy management device," he said.

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