Before we hit the ground running, we need to understand what QoS is. Quality of Service (QoS) is a set of technologies that work on a network to control traffic and ensure performance for high-priority applications. QoS is often utilized to prioritize traffic for applications or services for VoIP (Voice/Phone traffic) or Video conference applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. But how does that work?
QoS networking technology works by marking internet packets to identify the service type or protocol in use by the application, then configuring routers and firewalls to create separate virtual spaces or queues for each of those marked packets based on their priority. These spaces are often set by a network administrator, resulting in bandwidth that is reserved for those high-priority applications. Using these technologies will allow an administrator to assign the order of those marked packets and determine how the network will handle them in terms of steering the bandwidth for the best performance.
For a deeper understanding of how this all works and how QoS network software works is defining the types of traffic that is measured.
- Bandwidth: The maximum rate of data transfer across a path. This is often understood as your internet speed provided by your Internet Service Provider. QoS measures this so it can optimize those applications by allowing them to use more bandwidth than others.
- Latency: How much time it takes for a data packet to travel from one designated point to another. The latency should be nearly zero if possible. Results of high latency can be experienced with echo and overlapping audio during VoIP phone calls or video conferencing.
- Packet Loss: This occurs when one or more packets of data fail to reach their destination. This is often caused by a network being overwhelmed or errors introduced in data transmission. QoS allows administrators to handle which unimportant packets will be dropped in instances of network overload. In a case like this for a business, you would rather drop packets for web browsing than a phone call.
- Jitter: This is a result of network congestion, timing drift, or route changes. Jitter can degrade the quality of network communication by causing a variation of time delay between signal transmission and when it is received.
Without QoS, a network can become disorganized, chaotic, and clogged up. Performance will degrade as it becomes full or will shut down the network completely.
Imagine driving on a 4-lane highway with no lane markings or road signs. It would be a mess and could result in collisions and accidents. Some drivers will not get to where they need to be, and others may take several hours longer to arrive. This is remarkably similar in networking. If we were to introduce QoS in this instance; dividing that 48-foot space into four smaller lanes, adding lines on the road, and adhering to the policies in place, 5 O’clock traffic might not be so bad. People can get where they need to go, faster, more optimized, and have more control. Network applications can do the same.