Network traffic volume increases by 1.5 times every year. As smart devices and cloud services facilitate network data exchanges, communication failures have become an issue.
According to a survey taken in the United States, a one-second delay in loading an Internet shopping website causes a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction [Note 1]. A few hours of communication failure leaves users disconnected, seriously impacting business and daily activities. In Japan, over 7,000 communication failures occur per year, and 1,400 of these last longer than 10 hours--causing significant inconvenience [Note 2].
Prevention of such communication failures requires a stable, delay- and interruption-proof network. Fujitsu achieves this through its packet analysis technology. This technology analyzes packets on networks at the world's fastest rate of 200 Gbps while monitoring them in real time.
[Note 1] 2008 survey of over 160 companies conducted by the Aberdeen Group
[Note 2] "2013 Network Failures in Telecommunication Services" by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Packet Analysis Technology Supporting Network Stability
The development of cloud services has led to frequent downloading of large-volume data via PCs and smart devices. However, it is common for network failures or server problems to cause videos to stop playing in the middle or interrupt the downloading process.
Early detection and recovery from such service failures requires prompt identification of the locus of the problem--the server or service provider. To detect a problem the moment it occurs, packets must be constantly monitored.
A packet is a unit of data carried by a network. It may be lost or improperly transferred if a communication failure occurs. Therefore, monitoring packets allows the cause and method of failure response to be identified. Fujitsu's packet analysis technology monitors packets in real time to quickly detect communication failures and find the cause.
Since this technology monitors communication in real-time, it copies and collects all packets carried by a network. It then performs network and application quality analyses of the collected packets to classify where the cause of the service failure lies.
Network-quality analysis measures the packet loss rate, network delay, and traffic volume for each connection. For example, a delay or failure of application data formation at the receiving host means that a network problem occurred leading to packet loss.
Conversely, a delayed server response means a problem with the service provider's server. Application-quality analysis measures server response time in real time to check for server abnormalities.
With these two types of quality analyses, packet analysis technology can quickly identify the source and cause of a service failure, allowing for a prompt response.
Fujitsu uses this technology to monitor its internal network. The previous analysis technology needed six hours to discover that "the traffic volume spiked at one place due to a network delay at a different place" while the new technology took only five minutes to do the same.
Three Technologies Achieve the World's Fastest Analysis
Taking full advantage of the CPU, memory, and OS capabilities was necessary to achieve faster analysis of real-time packets. Fujitsu reached the analysis speed of 200 Gbps by implementing the following three technologies:
(1) High-speed packet collection technology. Until now packets had been collected and processed one by one. Subsequently, analysis of a few dozen million packets in a second caused an extremely heavy workload and the OS could process them only within its capacity limit. Fujitsu has developed technology to collect packets in units such as 10 or 100, thereby improving collection efficiency.
(2) High-speed memory access technology. Previously, packets were copied in their respective layers before network and application quality analyses were carried out to investigate the cause of a network failure. Copying a large amount of packets, however, was time consuming. This new technology allows efficient quality analysis by providing a mechanism to directly refer to the packets without the need to copy them.
(3) Lock-free ring-buffer technology. Up until now, CPUs had to wait for other CPUs to finish read/write operations because only one CPU at a time could do so (locked state). Therefore, even high-performance CPUs were not working to full capacity. The new lock-free ring-buffer technology treats packet processing as a ring buffer. Multiple CPUs can process packets simultaneously so long as the read/write timing does not collide (lock-free state). This way, the number of CPU cores becomes proportional to the performance level.
Software is what makes high-speed analysis possible. Unlike high-performance hardware, high-performance software is relatively inexpensive to install, which is one of this technology's major benefits.
High-performance hardware such as CPUs and memory continues to be developed every day. Meanwhile, the conventional belief has been that developing software which can take full advantage of hardware capacity is unrealistic. Fujitsu, by using its expertise in researching hardware and software, fully utilized software capabilities to achieve this packet analysis technology.
Packet Analysis Technology to Support Future Network Society
In the past, diagnosing network failures could only be done after they occurred. Now, network quality can be monitored constantly. Cyberattacks will threaten the network society going forward, but real-time monitoring of a spike/dip in the traffic volume or changes in the packet volume can pinpoint users whose intent is malicious. Visualizing and recording logs contribute to securing network stability even in the event of a cyberattack.
Packet analysis technology works for all network-based services and products regardless of business field or environment. On social networking sites and Internet shopping websites where higher usability means improved service quality this technology can provide network stability to help companies increase their competitiveness.
In the age of connectivity, innovations are anticipated in the business, medical, and educational fields. For example, patients can consult overseas specialists via networks when Japanese doctors are unable to treat them. Patients may even be able to have surgeries via remote operation.
A safe, reliable, and stress-free network infrastructure is essential to turning these visions into reality. As networks carry increasingly more data volume, the importance of packet analysis technology for early detection of problems and cause identification will be highlighted.
Fujitsu's research and development will continue to contribute to future business and society as a whole.