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Networking IT

Crowdsourced Network Planning For Connection-Bridging Startup 58

Posted by timothy
from the no-but-really-where-are-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tom's Hardware reports on the Connectify Switchboard software that "divides the user's traffic between Wi-Fi, 3G/4G and Ethernet-based connections on a packet-by-packet basis. Even a single stream — such as a Netflix movie — can be split between two or three Internet connections for a higher resolution and faster buffering." As part of its Kickstarter campaign, Connectify is geolocating their backers to optimize deployment of their servers. This is a clever way for supporters to influence the project beyond pledge levels and stretch goals, and it's actually kind of fun to watch."
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Crowdsourced Network Planning For Connection-Bridging Startup

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:33PM (#43758675) Journal

    I, for one, am 100% gung-ho about having a 3rd-party in the 'cloud' handling every single one of my packets so that they can balance them between my connections!

    The proprietary client adding complexity to my machine's network stack is a bonus, of course.

    • by rHBa (976986)
      Sounds like the cloud version or RAID 0, great if you just need performance and don't expect any reliability...
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      I, for one, am 100% gung-ho about having a 3rd-party in the 'cloud' handling every single one of my packets so that they can balance them between my connections!

      There are already lots of third parties handling each of your packets. I'm not sure why one extra router would be a cause for concern.

  • It's so weird to be reading the news on Slashdot, and then realize that it's about you. This is Alex from Connectify, and I'm here, so I guess go ahead and ask me anything as reply to this comment, and I'll answer away.
    • by Cwix (1671282)

      How do you plan to handle the privacy implications?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by agizis (676060)
        We are going to keep the minimum logs required by law. But we are going to comply with the law, just as any company must. So, for those worried about the privacy implications, there are several options: a) run your own server, we have options to buy the software for your server, or b) use a VPN (dial the VPN after connecting Switchboard... all your traffic will be encrypted by them, then spread out by us, you can get the best of both). Of course you need to have VPN provider whom you trust.
    • by msauve (701917)
      You may wish to correct the impression given by the summary (packet by packet basis). While decisions may be made by examining individual packets, it's really balancing sockets, which is what makes it possible.

      (and you might want to provide a more terse, less marketecture oriented explanation on your website)
      • I went the the Connectify site, and based my comments on Dispatch. My bad.
      • by agizis (676060)
        Sorry? No, it's right: we go packet-by-packet in our spreading. That's exactly what's so special here. On every Internet connection on your system we make one or more different sockets back to the speed server. Then we can make the right decision for each packet on which of OUR sockets it should become a part of. There's a lot more smarts that have to go into quickly, and correctly figuring out which Internet connection should carry the data: bandwidth, latency, packet loss, and behavior of the firew
        • by msauve (701917)
          Yea, I realized I was looking at the wrong product.

          Will you make any decisions based on the source networks? e.g. even with a single local Inet link to a single ISP, there might be benefit to then splitting out to multiple Connectify servers located in different BGP peers, routing around peering chokepoints and creating transits which might otherwise not be available.

          How about a home appliance, sitting in front of the router to the ISP (or on a Linux router)?

          I was disappointed to see that Linux support s
    • Are you using SCTP or have you rolled your own standard?
      • by agizis (676060)
        We rolled our own so we could overcome SCTP's problems with NAT traversal (which only seem partially fixed by trying to tunnel SCTP over UDP) and so we could do things like track the flight time of every packet
    • by JLennox (942693)

      It would be cool if I could run switchboard on a pi and reserve it to all my devices.

      But I guess that's not a question :)

    • Thanks for taking questions. Take business travelers who have a laptop with builtin 802.11, and a 4G card for when they are not around an open access point. With switchboard, they would be able to use the 4G network even when they are connected to the 802.11 and observe increased speeds. That sounds like something a lot of people would use.

      Do you consider this to be your target market, or something else?

      • by agizis (676060)
        Absolutely, that was the main scenario we were thinking about as we designed this. It does a nice job of putting links together so you really can a skype video call from the hotel. Since then we've been amazed to find out how many other scenarios there are: people with 2 DSL lines to the houses, business disaster recovery scenarios, people needing to get video streams into or out of areas where they can only get 3G service... the list keeps growing. But yes, the business traveler was who was in our mind
  • buzzword

  • Isn't this A) what you could do with a bit of messing about on old trumpet winsock installs, and B) what routers like the Cradlepoint stuff do already? The cradlepoint is more designed to auto roll over to a 3G connection if the main route drops, but can easily be configured to just add to the bandwidth. Not sure how this is different/new?
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Isn't this A) what you could do with a bit of messing about on old trumpet winsock installs, and B) what routers like the Cradlepoint stuff do already?

      The cradlepoint is more designed to auto roll over to a 3G connection if the main route drops, but can easily be configured to just add to the bandwidth. Not sure how this is different/new?

      I guess the new aspect would be being affordable.. there has been demos of stuff like using ten 3g connections to transfer data pretty fast.

    • by agizis (676060)
      No, both are load balancing. In load balancing each socket is assigned to an internet connection where it stays for its lifetime. Works well with stuff like bittorrent, or networks with lots of users going through the load balancer. This is true channel bonding: each packet is separately routed down the best Internet connection. Even a single video stream or an encrypted VPN can be spread across all the connections. Ok, so then the next question is "can't I do that ifenslave in Linux already". No, yo
  • MPTCP is way better than what Connectify is proposing... It is an open standard too...
    http://mptcp.info.ucl.ac.be/ [ucl.ac.be]
    http://datatracker.ietf.org/wg/mptcp/charter/ [ietf.org]

    • by agizis (676060)
      MPTCP is really interesting, but if you want to combine connections to speed up a connection to a server that just supports regular TCP (Netflix, or Box, Dropbox, etc), even having MPTCP to somewhere else in the cloud, like a VPN server or connection aggregation server, doesn't get you very much. Running TCP over TCP in the real world is generally a bad idea, for reasons laid out pretty well here: http://vpnhaus.ncp-e.com/2011/06/30/sstp-the-problem-with-tcp-over-tcp-part-2/ [ncp-e.com]
      That's why Switchboard uses UD
  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:58PM (#43759239)

    Yes, many of us have shitty internet connections from a small selection of shitty providers. I know, let's saturate our already oversold connectivity to give said shitty providers another excuse to crank up rates with the bonus of hitting your usage caps even sooner!

    From what I can tell, this "Switchboard" is basically trying to consolidate and minimize connection overhead, which should theoretically offer modest performance gains. But your bandwidth is your bandwidth, no amount of software is going to stretch it.

    I wonder how much Kickstarter capital would need to be raised to start an ISP that doesn't employ the business model off shitting on its customers.

  • Using the Netflix example, wouldn't some packets going over 3G and others going over wired broadband cause massive problems with packets arriving out of order? There are methods for handling that in TCP of course, but I wonder how effective they would be in as exterme circumstances as we'd be talking about here.
    • by agizis (676060)
      Yes, out of order packets were a real problem, caused by the difference in latency between paths. We get them back in a semblance of order coming out of our network connection.
    • by agizis (676060)
      Yes, and this isn't load balancing. Load balancing puts each socket on one internet connection where it stays for "life". We divide the traffic between the multiple connections at a packet by packet basis. Which means that unlike load balanced solutions, we can even speed up single sockets like streaming video, uploads and VPNs.
  • by funkboy (71672) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @06:48AM (#43760945) Homepage

    Sorry to rain on your parade, but multipath TCP [multipath-tcp.org] already does this...

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