COVID-19 Response TrafficManagement

More observations on Janet traffic during lockdown

It’s almost four weeks since the first blog article I wrote on the changes to traffic patterns on Janet as we moved to working from home. At the end of that I promised an update, so whilst it has been a little longer than planned, here it is.

Frankly, not much has changed. We’ve continued to see the higher levels of traffic outbound to the major domestic service providers, whilst the inbound traffic to Janet has dropped – although the drop has levelled off.

In the last blog, we’d moved some traffic from direct connections with those two service providers to the LINX. Since then we’ve added the required capacity to one of them and moved the traffic back to the direct connection. We are still in the process of adding capacity to the other one, which has taken longer than anticipated as their records of which fibres were available weren’t up-to-date. As a result, most of that traffic is still running over the LINX, but both of our LINX connections are running at under 30% peak usage.

Out of curiosity, I thought I’d compare the traffic between the run-up to Easter last year and this year. The following graph shows peak inbound traffic to Janet from the Monday six weeks before Easter Monday, through to Maundy Thursday in 2019 (blue) and 2020 (orange). The last blog on March 20th is around day 18 on this graph, and the weekends are obviously days 6/7, 13/14, 20/21, 27/28.

Last year, the traffic dropped off gradually as schools started their holidays and Universities broke up, leading to it being quieter in the week leading up to Easter. This year, it’s clear when the working from home started, and the traffic drops further from there. It’s interesting to see how close the weekday traffic is to the weekend traffic, perhaps as people looking after children home from school catch up with a bit of work at the weekend?

As for other observations, our traffic with GÉANT has seen very little change compared with other traffic levels. A lot of this traffic is research-related, possibly automatic data transfers, and even with the Large Hadron Collider shut down, work on analysis of the data continues.

Lower overall traffic levels mean some smaller patterns that would normally get lost in the noise also start to show up, and I could spend a lot of time looking at the graphs. Why, for example, do we get a sharp peak of incoming traffic from Apple at around 3:15am? It’s a lot of traffic just for systems checking for updates. I can speculate on what this might be (new episodes of podcasts? minor system updates?), but do you know what this is?  It’s the same every morning.

Of course, we’ll be keeping an eye on the traffic levels, and planning continues for the upgrades to be done in the year ahead, assuming traffic levels return to normal.

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