In networking and server administration, traffic management is of utmost importance. With the increasing demand for network resources, it becomes necessary to ensure that these resources are used optimally. This is where traffic policing comes into play. By understanding traffic policing, you can better manage your network resources, ensuring smooth operation and improved performance.
In this article, you will learn about what traffic policing is, how it works, why it is important, and where it is used.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents:
What is Traffic Policing?
Traffic policing is a technique in network traffic management that regulates the flow of data packets across a network by setting a specific rate limit. Is a proactive approach to network traffic management as it ensures the equitable distribution of network resources, prevents bandwidth hogging, and maintains the overall health and efficiency of the network. This technique is essential in maintaining network stability and preventing bandwidth congestion.
In the context of traffic policing, the rate limit is a predefined threshold that determines the maximum data rate permissible for network traffic. This limit is set based on various factors such as the network’s capacity, the type of data being transmitted, and the network requirements.
The traffic policing mechanism continuously monitors the data rate of network traffic. It compares the actual data rate with the predefined limit. If the actual data rate surpasses the set limit, the traffic policing mechanism springs into action. The actions taken could include dropping the packets, marking them for potential drop in the future, or de-prioritizing the traffic. This process is crucial in ensuring fair usage of network resources and preventing any single user or application from monopolizing the bandwidth.
How Does Traffic Policing Work?
Traffic policing, also known as rate limiting, operates on a fundamental principle of monitoring the data rate or speed of network traffic. This process is automated and continuous, ensuring that the flow of data packets within the network adheres to the pre-set limits. These limits are defined by network administrators based on various factors such as the network’s capacity, the nature of the data being transmitted, and the Quality of Service requirements.
The core component of the traffic policing mechanism is a token bucket. This is a conceptual model used to control the rate of traffic. The token bucket is filled with tokens at a specific rate, which is determined by the network’s bandwidth limit. Each data packet that traverses the network consumes a token from the bucket.
When a data packet arrives, the traffic policer checks if there are sufficient tokens in the bucket. If there are enough tokens, the packet is allowed to pass, and the corresponding number of tokens are removed from the bucket. However, if the bucket is empty or there are not enough tokens, the packet is considered to be in violation of the rate limit.
In such cases, the traffic policer takes action based on the network’s policy. The packet could be dropped immediately, which is a method known as “hard policing”. Alternatively, the packet could be marked for potential dropping in the future, a technique referred to as “soft policing”. This marking is usually done using a Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP) or Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) field in the packet header.
In web hosting, traffic policing plays a crucial role in managing network resources. For instance, in a shared hosting environment, multiple websites are hosted on the same server and share the same network resources. Without a mechanism to control the rate of traffic, some websites might consume more than their fair share of bandwidth, leading to network congestion and degraded performance for other websites.
By implementing traffic policing, network administrators can ensure a more equitable distribution of bandwidth among all websites. This not only prevents network congestion but also ensures that each website gets a consistent level of service, regardless of the traffic demands of other websites on the same server. This is particularly important for maintaining the performance and reliability of websites during peak traffic periods.
Why is Traffic Policing Important?
Traffic policing is important for several reasons. First, it helps in preventing network congestion by controlling the flow of traffic. This ensures that the network can handle the traffic load efficiently and effectively, which is crucial in maintaining the performance and reliability of a website or an online service.
Second, traffic policing allows for the prioritization of traffic. This means that critical services can be given priority over less important ones, ensuring that they function smoothly even in high traffic conditions. This is particularly important in scenarios like VPS hosting, where resources are allocated to each user separately.
Finally, traffic policing can help in reducing packet loss and improving network performance. By controlling the rate of traffic transmission, it ensures that packets do not overwhelm the network, leading to improved network performance.
Who Uses Traffic Policing?
Traffic policing is used by a wide range of entities, from small hosting companies to large corporations, and from internet service providers to data centers. Any entity that needs to manage network traffic effectively can benefit from traffic policing.
For example, ISPs use traffic policing to manage the bandwidth usage of their customers. By controlling the rate of traffic, they can ensure that all customers get a fair share of the available bandwidth. Similarly, data centers use traffic policing to manage the flow of data between servers. This helps in preventing network congestion and ensuring smooth data transfer.
In web hosting, traffic policing can be particularly useful. For example, in dedicated server hosting, where a single server is dedicated to a single user, traffic policing can help manage the flow of data and ensure optimal performance.
When and Where is Traffic Policing Used?
Traffic policing is used whenever there is a need to manage network traffic. This could be during peak traffic hours, when the network is likely to be congested, or during off-peak hours, when the network is underutilized.
As for where traffic policing is used, it can be implemented at various points in the network. This could be at the network gateway, where traffic enters or leaves the network, or at individual servers or devices within the network.
In web hosting, traffic policing can be implemented at the server level to manage the flow of data and ensure optimal performance. For example, in cloud hosting, where resources are spread across multiple servers, traffic policing can help manage the flow of data and ensure smooth operation.
Traffic policing is a critical component in network management. By controlling the flow of traffic, it helps in preventing network congestion, ensuring efficient utilization of bandwidth, and improving network performance.
Whether you’re a small business owner, a network administrator, or an IT professional, understanding traffic policing can help you manage your network more effectively.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
What is the main purpose of traffic policing?
The main purpose of traffic policing is to control the flow of network traffic to prevent congestion, ensure efficient utilization of bandwidth, and improve network performance.
How does traffic policing improve network performance?
Traffic policing improves network performance by controlling the rate of traffic transmission, which helps prevent network congestion and reduces packet loss.
Who can benefit from using traffic policing?
Any entity that needs to manage network traffic effectively can benefit from traffic policing. This includes small businesses, large corporations, internet service providers, and data centers.
What is the difference between traffic policing and traffic shaping?
Traffic policing and traffic shaping both manage network traffic, but in different ways. Traffic policing drops or marks packets when the data rate exceeds the set limit, while traffic shaping buffers excess packets and then schedules them for later transmission to smooth out the traffic flow.
How is traffic policing implemented in a network?
Traffic policing is implemented using a mechanism known as a token bucket. The token bucket fills at a certain rate, and each packet that passes through the network consumes a token. If the bucket is empty, the packet is either dropped or marked for potential drop in the future.