How IT Works: What is Quality of Service


May 1, 2017

A network is responsible for transferring data packets from one computer to another. Whether a simple email or a twelve-part miniseries, all data must travel along the same network cables. Plus, because of the wide adoption of voice over IP (VoIP), even our phone lines have been merged onto the same WANs and LANs that carry every other form of data.

With a limited bandwidth to work with and  so much data being transferred, network administrators have developed various quality of service protocols to help regulate networks and ensure that everyone receives the information they need.


What is Quality of Service? A Network Priority Feature.

Quality of service is a network feature found in routers, switches, and other networking hardware that serves to increase the effectiveness of the network. Primarily, it helps prioritize applications and data traffic to allow more bandwidth for essential data.

For example, a business that staffs a three-hundred agent contact/call center likely derives a significant percentage of their revenue through their contact/call center operation. A network administrator might use the quality of service feature to prioritize all applications associated with the contact/call center over other non-essential applications, such as data streamed off of YouTube or archive database queries. Neither YouTube nor archive database queries have the same tie to business revenue or immediacy that is needed by the voice and phone systems.

Network administrators are able to customize their own application priorities. This allows them to ensure that their network infrastructure is fine-tuned to meet their unique needs.

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What is Quality of Service? A Cost Saver.

Networks have peaks and valleys of activity. 9:00 AM Monday morning is going to be much busier than 11:00 PM Saturday night. Without quality of service, the only way to ensure that network speeds are not impacted throughout the week is to provision enough network bandwidth to account for the highest peak in the week. The rest of the time, that extra bandwidth goes to waste.

Quality of service in turn enables a company to purchase a much smaller bandwidth overall while still ensuring that applications essential to business functions still function without delays or dips in performance. Truly, it enables the best of both worlds.


What is Quality of Service? An Essential Component of Networks Today and in the Future

As we look ahead to the future of business technology, there doesn’t seem to be a vision of network infrastructure without quality of service. The size of the data we use is going to invariably grow, and therefore the size of the data we need to share is going to grow along with it. Just a few years ago, streaming video was a drag, but now it is the standard method of viewing full length feature films on a wide variety of platforms. It would be extremely time consuming to rip out old network cables every couple years to account for rises in network traffic. For that reason, quality of service will prove to be essential as we try to use what bandwidth we have more efficiently and more wisely.

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For Further Reading:

How IT Works: The Least Privilege Principle in Active Directory

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