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What is Quality of Service (QoS)?

Quality of Service (QoS) is a set of techniques and technologies that are designed to optimize the performance of an organization’s network. This technology can help to ensure that high-priority and performance-sensitive applications are capable of continuing to operate effectively even with limited bandwidth and high network congestion. QoS functionality can be integrated into network solutions, such as an organization’s network firewall.

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What is Quality of Service (QoS)?

The Importance of QoS

Different applications within an organization’s IT infrastructure have different network requirements. Some applications have decreased tolerance for packet loss, delay, and jitter (when packets for streaming applications have different inter-packet delays). If these stricter requirements are not met, the application’s performance may be degraded, or the application may not be able to function at all.

 

In most cases, it is not feasible to provide all traffic on an organization’s network with the performance (packet loss, delay and jitter) required by the strictest application on the network. Quality of Service helps to provide optimal performance on the network by ensuring that the applications with stricter requirements have those requirements met.

How Does Quality of Service (QoS) Work?

The core of Quality of Service (QoS) is application identification. Every application running on an organization’s network has a unique traffic signature. If an organization’s network infrastructure is capable of identifying an application based upon its traffic, then application-specific policies can be applied to the traffic.

 

This enables the network infrastructure to perform optimization based upon an application’s unique needs. Some example optimizations include:

 

  • Traffic Prioritization: Different applications have different levels of importance within an organization’s network. For example, teleconferencing traffic is more important than web connections to social media sites and is more sensitive to poor network performance. By identifying the source of traffic based upon the traffic signature, an organization’s network infrastructure can give priority to the traffic that requires it, while transmitting less important or more forgiving application traffic when possible.
  • Route Selection: Different types of network infrastructure provide different levels of performance. For example, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) networks have higher guarantees than mobile networks. Application identification means that different types of traffic can be routed differently based upon their unique requirements.

 

By applying these optimizations, an organization’s network can work more efficiently and can provide optimal performance to the applications that need it the most.

Quality of Service Main Benefits

QoS solutions provide a number of benefits. Some of the major ones include:

 

  • Improved Application Performance: The main benefit of Quality of Service is that it can improve the performance of critical applications within an organization’s IT infrastructure. By identifying and prioritizing vital applications based upon their network traffic, QoS can help to ensure that their packet loss, delay, and latency requirements are met. This ensures that sensitive applications do not suffer degraded performance and are not rendered unusable by congested networks.
  • Improved Network Utilization: Most organizations have made significant investments in their network infrastructure and may be using more expensive transport media. For example, an organization may have MPLS links installed or be using mobile networks for resiliency and redundancy. Since QoS network traffic identification can prioritize traffic based upon the associated application, it is possible to develop application-specific policies that ensure that expensive and high-performance network bandwidth is primarily or solely used by the applications that require it.
  • Optimized Traffic Routing: Traffic from different applications has different destinations, and taking a “one size fits all” approach to traffic routing can create inefficiencies and delays. By identifying the application associated with a particular network connection and applying application-specific policies to it, an organization can more efficiently route network traffic to its destination.
  • Decreased Network Congestion: An organization’s network can easily become congested by low-priority traffic. QoS can help to reduce network congestion by dropping or throttling low-priority traffic during periods of peak utilization and by using application-specific traffic routing to reduce congestion in critical sectors of the network.

Implementing Quality of Service (QoS)

QoS can be implemented at the network level within an organization’s IT environment. If all traffic flows through a particular device, that device can be used to identify the various application sources, perform traffic prioritization, and apply other application-specific policies.

 

The need for all traffic to pass through the QoS device makes a next-generation firewall (NGFW) a perfect solution for implementing QoS. A network firewall is used to define and enforce a network boundary. This means that all traffic passing through this boundary must also pass through the firewall. The firewall can easily perform application identification, apply application-specific policies, and take action as needed.

 

Support for QoS is a feature that you should look for when evaluating potential firewall solutions. For more information on evaluating firewall options, check out this buyer’s guide. You’re also welcome to request a free demo to see how Check Point firewalls can help to improve your organization’s network performance and security.

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