The truth about unlimited bandwidth solutions

by , August 2, 2012

We have recently received many inquiries about how the FileCatalyst solution compares to open source, or commercial products offering supposedly "unlimited" bandwidth licenses. We covered the issues of open source solutions in a previous blog, but we also want to address solutions that claim to be unlimited.

When you purchase a solution with claims that bandwidth is unlimited, what are you really getting? The answer is that you don't know. And the company that sold it to you probably doesn't know either.

Imagine buying a race car without knowing the top speed! What they are really selling is something that you will need to test. You have no guarantee on the actual performance. For some, this may be fine. If you test the software and find it does what you need and the price is right maybe there is no concern. However, for others who need to know that a solution can scale with their growing business needs, the promise of unlimited bandwidth should be a red flag. In the long term you could end up changing solutions to meet your new business needs (e.g. your new Gbps link).

Unlimited = uncertainty

FileCatalyst is sold based on bandwidth tiers for a reason. The higher the bandwidth tier, the more engineering and tuning it takes to achieve top speed. For instance, it takes significant effort to optimize reliable UDP transfers at 1 Gbps when there is latency and packet loss present. When we sell a 1 Gbps license we can guarantee you will get that speed. We can back it up with metrics and results. The same holds true for 10 Gbps. Our memory tuning article shows some of the analysis and testing we do to ensure users achieve the speeds users are looking for.

It may be harmful to assume that an unlimited bandwidth solution is a better value than a 500 Mbps or 1 Gbps license just because it claims to be unlimited. A solution promising specific speeds will be able to reliably deliver those speeds, providing high performance and consistency with no guesswork.

If you choose to evaluate software presented as an "unlimited" bandwidth solution, be sure to have the vendor demonstrate the maximum speed they can achieve (and under which conditions). You should also test it yourself on your own high speed equipment. This will give you a true estimation of what you are paying for.

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