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The field of digital communications is one of the fastest growing areas of business and technology in the whole world. Every day millions of users use local and wide area networks for performing their daily tasks, ranging from work-related activities to entertainment. The number of users and computers in the world is constantly growing, together with the total number of computers connected in various networks. Recent developments in the field of digital communications have seen several great innovative changes which allow people to have even more powerful resources than they used previously. On the one hand, developments in digital processors have brought powerful central processor units which are capable of performing billions of operations in a second. At the same time, people have always been interested in the ways of transferring significant amounts of data as fast as possible. However, despite the fact that there are numerous improvements in the speed of data transmission, there are various limiting factors which lead to bottlenecks, thus restricting the actual rate of data transfer. This paper investigates the factors leading to bottlenecks in high-speed networks, characterizes the most typical problems and means of their mitigation. This information is of critical importance to those IT specialists who work in the field of digital communications and have to maintain high-speed data centers. The outcomes of research may lead to updates of network systems and their specific parts, which may increase the rate of data transfer in wide and local area networks.
The Current State of High-Speed Networks
An analysis of the issue of high-speed networking demonstrates that this area experiences constant technological changes and improvement that allow systems to constantly increase rates of data transfer. For instance, there are reports that service providers and data center network managers already implement high-speed fiber-optic networks with data transfer rate from 40 to 100 Gbps (“High Speed Networks” n. d.). Without any doubt, utilization of fiber-optic inks significantly improves the state of data transfer rates, with many modern networks operation at enormous speeds at capacities compared to speeds of the 20th century. For example, a typical cable internet access is easily capable of reaching the speed of 100 megabits per second with a deteriorated transfer ratio in case the number of users grows (Locke 2014). In contrast, fiber-optic connection provides much more bandwidth than a typical copper connection and allows reaching the speed of 10 Gbps and beyond (Damico 2015). Moreover, among the benefits of fiber-optic links is the absence of a 100-meter distance limitation, increased levels of security and reliability. As a result, IT specialists in area of networking develop equipment capable of transferring data up to 400-Gbps and even 1-Tbs (“High Speed Networks” n. d.), which is beneficial for large data centers and internet providers. This is critical for the stakeholders of organization because of the exponential growth of the Internet, popularity of cloud computing and networking, technologies similar to ultra HD video broadcasts and other. As a result, the quality of service provided by various data centers and internet providers may be constantly limited to the speed of data transfer. Nevertheless, a connection to high-speed fiber-optic networks does not guarantee availability of a fastest data transfer speed because of various factors causing bottleneck in the information flow. It is critical to be aware of such factors in order to guarantee the actual level of performance required for high-capacity traffic speeds.
Factors Leading to the Bottleneck of High Speed Networks
Despite the predicted capabilities of high speed data transfer, its actual speed may be significantly lower, which reduces the possibilities of information transmission and negatively affects various stakeholders. Scholars claim that knowledge of the capacity bottlenecks and their sources is critical for an efficient network design, management and utilzation (Chen et al. 2006). In this aspect, reasons for bottlenecking of a high speed network performance demonstrate similarities with principles of transition of data from storage to a computer’s main memory (Rödiger et al. 2015), as it mostly depends on the equipment. In this sense, a computer system experiencing a bottleneck would demonstrate significant ration of data packet losses caused by routers, switches or similar equipment. Such cases are typical for companies which undergo a transition from one data transfer technology to another one, leaving specific equipment outdated instead of switching it to a new and compatible one. As a result, conflicts between an increase in the data sending rate and absence of the possibility to accept the whole amount of the sent data packets leads to a loss in actual bandwidth capacity (Tan et al. 2006). Furthermore, some expects claim that specific procedures, such as packet reordering, may severely impact the actual speed of a high-speed connection. For instance, a series of experiments conducted by Bhandarkar and Reddy (2006) demonstrated that packet reordering can result in a severe degradation of a high-speed protocol’s performance. Thus, it is suggested that data transfer centers specialists should constantly update their equipment and avoid interventions related to packet reordering. Moreover, many scholars propose to introduce a new congestion control protocol, which would be friendly with TCP standards and would allow monitoring the components that cause data transfer delays, as well as further mitigation of such problems (Tan et al. 2006).
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Similarly, there is evidence that points to the idea that data transfer bottlenecks may be caused by a wrong setting of routers. For instance, such functions as memory consumption controlled by the buffer size and other memory queuing mechanisms may increase the load of the CPU in case of an improper management and subsequently lead to data losses (Xue 2014). Additionally, the area equipment adjustment may experience problems with link-constrained and path-constrained routing. These aspects require an analysis of the network topology for selecting optimal data routing links and pathways. These aspects are capable of enhancing the speeds of data transfer by avoiding topology-caused bottlenecking (Houmkozlis & Rovithakis 2012). Similarly, the problem of bottlenecking may be resolved with help of monitoring software, which would allow exposing the problematic links in the chain of data-transfer equipment (Chen et al. 2006). Therefore, routers and other data-transfer equipment as well as software should be monitored by experienced specialists of the IT industry. It is expected that in the cases of constant equipment upgrade, and its monitoring and analysis would allow to avoid the problems of bottlenecking.
Summarizing the analyzed information, we may conclude that despite the unlimited capacities of high-speed networks data transfer, these networks have weak links which may drastically affect the actual rate of data transfer. Among them, scholars define software, hardware and topology-caused problems. For instance, in case the software and firmware of routers is improperly configured, such functions as buffer memory control may lead to packet overload and subsequent data loss. Similarly, companies switching from cable-based to optical fiber connections should update all of their equipment in order exclude the outdated hardware elements causing signal delay and packet loss. Moreover, there is a negative perspective of having improperly developed network topology, which causes negatively-impacts data-transfer capacities of the whole network. As a result, even having a perspective of setting up a link capable of transferring 1 Tbps, a company may actually have a significantly lower rate of data transfer. Consequently, it is advised to rely on the advice of competent IT specialists who are capable of updating the equipment and setting it up correctly. The proposed intervention would allow maintaining the full capacity of high-speed networks.
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