Network Traffic Engineering

Networking essentials: Network traffic engineering in software-defined enterprise networks

An enterprise’s network and IT infrastructure plays a huge role in shaping its business. Network traffic activity in enterprises is no longer restricted to just traditional, basic services such as file transfers, email, and web browsing. The spectrum of services at hand has made networks more user-friendly, and network traffic management more complex. With the amount of data generated every day in organizations and the increase in demand for services such as VoIP, actively monitoring every network element 24/7 while optimizing resource utilization and network performance is next to impossible. Network traffic engineering helps manage network traffic that is fundamental to facilitating reliable network operations. Network traffic engineering plays a fundamental part in making network traffic management more efficient.

The network optimization service market was valued at USD 2.85 billion in 2022, and according to a 2023 study by Market Research Future, it is estimated to grow from USD 3.27 billion in 2023 with an annual growth rate of 14.6% to USD 9.72 billion by 2032. Meanwhile, Future Market Insights projects a growth rate of 16.3% with an estimate of USD 15.8 billion, and the network traffic analysis market to grow to USD 8.5 billion with an increase in demand for VoIP; integration of AI, ML, and BYOD; and the need for network traffic analysis solutions as part of security systems being the key drivers.

What is network traffic engineering?

Network traffic engineering is the process of optimizing a network's performance by controlling traffic flow across the network. This involves selecting the traffic paths, managing the capacity of the network, and setting a routing paradigm in place to ensure network resources are used efficiently while preventing data loss and bottlenecks.

Traffic engineering techniques, and how network traffic engineering works

Network traffic engineering enhances network performance at both the traffic and resource levels. It involves analyzing, forecasting, and regulating network traffic, and can be performed at different levels in the network. Some of the traditional traffic engineering techniques used in enterprises include:

Load balancing

Load balancing is the process of routing network traffic across servers to prevent network traffic congestion.

Quality of service (QoS)

QoS is a set of rules or techniques used to manage network traffic in organizations based on priority and need.

Traffic shaping

This is a QoS technique that involves regulating the flow of traffic to prevent congestion and ensure that important traffic receives priority. Traffic shaping is the process of controlling bandwidth usage and traffic by prioritizing mission-critical applications, users, or IPs. This is either application-based or route-based.

Route optimization

Path optimization, or route optimization, is the process of identifying the most efficient available path or route for network traffic based on factors such as latency, available bandwidth, and network topology.

Network traffic analysis

This involves monitoring network traffic data and analyzing patterns and and network health to detect issues in network traffic and improve traffic engineering for better network performance.

Why is network traffic engineering important?

Network traffic engineering is critical for ensuring that networks are reliable and deliver the required performance. Some of the key benefits of traffic engineering in enterprise networks include:

1. Improved network performance

Network traffic engineering helps facilitate reliable network operations and makes traffic management simpler by regulating network traffic flow, thereby reducing congestion and improving overall network health and performance.

2. Reduced downtime

By monitoring and optimizing network traffic, network traffic engineering can help identify potential network issues before they cause downtime or other disruptions. With the amount of control network traffic engineering offers over the network resources, it can help reduce the risk of service disruptions and improve network reliability.

3. Better user experience

By optimizing the flow of network traffic, network traffic engineering can help ensure that users have a good experience with network-based applications and services. This can help increase user satisfaction and improve productivity.

4. Cost savings

Network traffic engineering can help reduce network costs by ensuring that network resources are used efficiently. By avoiding unnecessary upgrades and maximizing existing resources, network traffic engineering can help organizations save money.

5. Scalability

Network traffic engineering can help ensure that networks can scale and accommodate increasing volumes of network traffic. By optimizing network resources and managing network capacity, network traffic engineering can help ensure that networks are able to meet the growing demands of users and applications.

Emerging trends in traffic engineering

Machine learning

One of the most prominent trends in network traffic engineering is machine learning (ML). Employing ML techniques to study network traffic behavior can enable network admins to automate traffic engineering, including anomaly detection, traffic routing, and traffic shaping.

Edge and fog computing

Implementing edge and fog computing can help optimize bandwidth usage and network performance, making network traffic engineering more efficient. It can help network admins combat network latency and security issues.

Multi-layer traffic engineering

Multi-domain and multi-layer traffic engineering involves operating across multiple domains and network traffic layers with varying attributes using methods such as cross-layer optimization.

Software-defined networking

Software-defined networking, or SDN, helps centralize network resource management. It enables dynamic programming of network configurations, routing, and policies to help facilitate better network traffic management.

How does ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer help you engineer network traffic?

NetFlow Analyzer’s network traffic analysis and traffic shaping features help you engineer your network traffic by tracking and rendering insights with critical metrics like downtime, bandwidth utilization, jitter, latency, and top conversations. It monitors every device, interface, application, user, and various other network elements across your network, simplifying the process of configuring your traffic engineering policies. NetFlow Analyzer comes with a multitude of reports that allow you to monitor application growth, detect anomalies in network traffic, and forecast bandwidth usage trends that enable you to create, audit, and update your QoS policies and shape application traffic to ensure optimum network performance.

Want to learn more about NetFlow Analyzer? Download NetFlow Analyzer’s free trial to explore other features and get started with next-gen network traffic monitoring.