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Sunday, February 10, 2008

To those who want to block because of bandwidth: Get a Packet Shaper



Doug Johnson's recent post is too important to pass up. Countless times, people have told me that itunes, youtube, google video are being blocked solely for bandwidth reasons. Not any more.

According to Doug Johnson, packet shaping has become quite robust! (In fact, I want to get one and am calling my vendor next week.)

Here is what Doug says:

"We installed a packet shaper on our network last year. What our packet shaper (or traffic shaper or layer seven switch) allows us to do is prioritize traffic on our network."

But it was a recent release to the software that made the greatest difference:

But the degree to which we can specify what traffic has priority became more granular with a recent software release. We can now give YouTube (not all Flash) a "Priority 0" rating. The yearbook people can use Flash to do their pages unimpeded; middle school kids can look for videos of fart lighting on YouTube with what bandwidth is left over. (Click on the small image at the left to see a larger version of the control module screen shot.) This has made a big difference.

So, if your district is blocking valuable educational resources because of bandwidth limitations think about using a packet shaper. (Since people will ask, we paid about $15K for ours in a consortium purchase.)


It seems pricy, but I wonder if there are other options. I'm going to look in my SonicWall and see.

I will say that I do not advocate middle schoolers looking for "fart lightning" on youtube and believe that if you have youtube at your school that every computer is directly supervised. I redesigned my classroom so every computer screen is facing my desk. I can see them all (I even put in a "rear view mirror" to see the screens of those behind me.)

Supervision is always paramount when you allow access, however, access is very important for some valid pedagogical reasons.

Go get those packets in shape!

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