Managed Services

Mu Helps Operators Shape App-Aware Networks

Mu Dynamics is taking its testing technology from the network to the exploding applications space to help operators discover which apps are crushing their networks.

Rather than running canned lab tests, Mu's testing technology recreates apps, or a mix of different apps, in real time to observe exactly how much bandwidth they consume and what that means to the network. Mu makes available thousands of app-specific tests to its TestCloud online community that wireless operators and vendors can tap into to test policies governing the security, scalability and functionality of their apps.

Mu counts AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Palo Alto Networks Inc. and ICSA Labs among its customers for TestCloud.

Net neutrality guidelines dictate how service providers can set and manage app-specific policies, but Mu CEO Dave Kresse says operators have to treat peer-to-peer apps differently from streaming video, games different from music and so on. The policies they set around these apps are up to the operators, but they have to understand each app's traffic patterns to make those decisions.

"AT&T doesn't have much of a say if Angry Cows comes out," Kresse says. "If [apps] don’t meet criteria, [operators can] apply a policy to the app, but they have to understand what the apps are. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and the mix changes rapidly. They end up being real challenges for the operators."

Why this matters
The deluge of mobile apps caught operators by surprise in the past few years, so now they are doing everything they can to ensure that doesn't happen again. Maintaining good service quality will be vital for operators to maintain customers, especially as they move to Long Term Evolution (LTE) with the promise of faster speeds and more bandwidth for apps and services. (See LTE's Promise Depends on Network Testing.)

"Eighty percent of traffic is apps," Kresse says. "It's not just a question of bigger pipes."

By incorporating app awareness either into their equipment, as Juniper is, or directly into the network, operators can get more granular control of the traffic and can classify apps for deep packet inspection, lawful intercept, traffic shaping and prioritization.

For more
Mu has been building a name for itself, testing 3G and 4G networks for functionality, resiliency and scalability. Check out the following articles to see which networks pass muster and which still need work.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:08:03 PM
re: Mu Helps Operators Shape App-Aware Networks

Operators setting more policies on apps makes me a little nervous. As of now, there aren't many restrictions on video usage at all. One example Mu gave was of allowing access to Facebook, but disabling games at peak hours. That's not a huge deal, but operators could also potentially limit video entirely at certain times or mandate using Wi-Fi. I understand the need to do so, but hopefully they'll handle the policies with care.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:08:02 PM
re: Mu Helps Operators Shape App-Aware Networks

That's definitely one thing operators can do with this information, but I don't think it's a "poor me" situation. It's a way for them to actually do something about it by understanding exactly where the problems are; not just bemoaning the huge data dump. The smart operators, at least, will use this information to get more creative with handling the traffic, not to limit it. But, we'll see if they're going to be smart about it.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:08:02 PM
re: Mu Helps Operators Shape App-Aware Networks


Read it differently and you get....Operators can detect new apps and limit their capabilities.  Not only should that make you nervous, it should go away.

We have to reach a point where either we are going to spec this stuff or charge for it or put a lot more bandwidth out there.  This whole thing of "Poor me I have to put in capacity" while profits are going up just has to stop.



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