Tweaking Starlink - PART II
When you want to increase your internet speed, you have basically 3 options:
- Optimize your existing internet connection.
- Bond multiple internet connections together.
- Smart steering of your internet traffic along multiple internet connections.
Getting a fiber connection in a remote, rural area can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. And getting a 100Mbps internet connection on a yacht at sea, can cost up to $ 900.000, - per year. Getting a Starlink internet connection (or any alternative) can be very beneficial.
Optimizing internet traffic for businesses:
Bond multiple internet connections together.
When you have multiple internet connections that are about the same type, you can bond them together. For example, two xDSL connections, two Starlink connections, two 4G or 5G connections, etc. You can have different internet providers, e.g., two different 4G providers, but the characteristics of these internet connections are the same.
If you are used working with Linux, you can install and configure MultiPath-TCP (MPTCP). It’s available on various platforms including Linux, OpenWRT, Android, Amazon EC2 instance, and Raspberry PI. MultiPath-TCP is commercially available through Tessares. But they only deliver solutions to large internet service providers.
Another solution is to get a Peplink router and connect it to the SpeedFusion Cloud. You connect the router to multiple internet connections and your internet traffic is send over this bonded connection.
SpeedFusion Cloud is a paid subscription that depends on how much data you use. When you use lots of data, it’s cheaper to run your own FusionHub Virtual Appliance. You can use FusionHub Virtual Appliance in a bigger distributed deployment. When you need only one hub to connect your router, you can use FusionHub Solo. It’s free to use, except for the costs of running the virtual appliance in the cloud.
Optimizing internet traffic for businesses:
Smart steering of your internet traffic along multiple internet connections.
Traditionally, high latency (inter)network connections could be optimized using WAN acceleration appliances. There are several vendors e.g. Silver Peak, Riverbed, Cisco WAAS or WANOS. (Were the last one is more affordable for small businesses.) These WAN acceleration appliances optimize network traffic using different techniques:
- LZ Compression. (Just like WinZIP. )
- Caching. (Store data on hard disks / SSD’s on both sides of the network connection.)
- DRE Data deduplication. (Send only the changes made to the data across the network connection.)
- Quality of Service / QoS. (Give business critical application a higher priority over other applications.)
- TCP flow optimization. (Use TCP with a congestion control algorithm that is better suited for high latency network environments, e.g., by using TCP BBR.)
Unfortunately, almost all internet traffic is encrypted these days. Cloud services, but also Facebook or even YouTube use HTTPS, which is encrypted. Good for security, but encrypted traffic is random traffic and cannot be optimized. Only QoS and TCP flow optimization can be used. Most WAN acceleration vendors therefore now moved to SD-WAN, as it’s a better solution for encrypted traffic. QoS and TCP flow optimization are often combined with SD-WAN.
Software Defined - Wide Area Network (SD-WAN)
When you have different internet connections available, you can make use of the different characteristics of these internet connections.
With SD-WAN, two or more VPNs are configured over two or more internet connections. These internet connections can be anything: xDSL, 4G/5G, Starlink, broadband cable, Fiber-to-the-Home, wireless ISP, etc. Traffic characteristics of these VPNs are real-time measured: latency, jitter, and packet loss.
When internet provider A fails, internet traffic will be automatically sent over internet connection B. This is a hard A or B configuration. You can also configure it, so if the quality of internet provider A decreases (latency, jitter, or packet loss becomes too high), internet traffic will be sent over internet connection B.
Starlink can be used as a primary internet connection, but it’s also great as a secondary (backup) internet connection for businesses. It’s completely separated from other networking infrastructure: When you provide power to a Starlink dish (e.g., through a backup UPS or solar arrays), you have internet access. Complete separated from anything else; xDSL, 4G/5G, Fiber-to-the-Home, etc.
Most SD-WAN solutions are application aware. You can configure it, so the best path / internet connection is used for a particular application. For example: Gaming, voice and video conferencing use a VDSL2 internet connection, because of low latency, jitter, or packet loss. Other traffic uses a Starlink connection because more bandwidth is available.
The overall best solution depends on what type of internet connections there are locally available.
There are many SD-WAN vendors available. One of the easiest SD-WAN solutions to configure is Meraki SD-WAN. Unfortunately, it does not support natively TCP flow optimization. Cisco SD-WAN (formally known as Viptela) does support TCP flow optimization, but it’s a more complex solution.
Meraki now supports SD-Internet. This is basically the same traffic steering concept as SD-WAN, but without the VPN part. In the future, SD-Internet will also support L7 application recognition.
If you have any questions, leave a comment, or ping me a message. (Pun intended )
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