The one constant about the internet is that it is always changing. Routes change, servers and networks have outages, new technologies are introduced that stress networks in unexpected ways, and the regulatory bodies that regulate digital commerce around the world change policy.

The most recent major change is the repeal of net neutrality in the United States. Content owners and companies with internet accessible services — which is almost every company these days — now need to find a way to ensure their services will continue to provide the quality experience their users expect, as paid prioritization or other internet fast lanes become a reality. We will start to see slower performance and higher network congestion, buffering delays in video, slower game downloads, longer application updates, and more waiting, in general. It has been proven over and over again that a poor customer experience with longer lag time leads to less revenue.

The first challenge facing a company, as network neutrality fades away, is having no visibility into how their customers are being affected. You can’t improve something you can’t measure. Unfortunately, the granularity of control now afforded to ISPs is not detectable by the vast majority of current monitoring tools. Measurements must be taken from the network edge, as each ISP’s performance will vary and it may depend on the specific content or the service hosting or serving the content. There may now be millions of combinations between ISPs and service providers that require very active, granular monitoring from the network edge, where the user exists. Today, you might be measuring the performance of your service using a synthetic monitor with 5, 10, or possibly 100 locations around the world. But that’s not enough — users will be accessing your service from tens of thousands of different ISPs. With net neutrality no longer in effect, your business will need tools to effectively reach your audience and provide them with the best possible experience. We can help you do that.

How to Make Sense of It All

Citrix Intelligent Traffic Management (ITM) delivers exactly this level of granular, from-the-edge insight. It measures actual network performance experienced by billions of users every single day. This data is collected from more than 40,000 ISPs and enterprises around the world, to the most-used shared infrastructure services globally. We use this data to generate a real-time map of internet health and performance. For example, it can tell you how fast a major wireless operator in Oregon performs to your cloud provider in Virginia; the speed of your Content Delivery Network from your users’ individual ISPs; or if the network performance of your service is now slower from one major cable operator versus another in the same area. Armed with this data, you can make informed decisions about how net neutrality may be impacting your users and plan your application and content delivery strategies effectively.

Visibility is essential for decision making and planning, but active control which optimizes your end users’ experience in real time based on this visibility is just as important. Citrix ITM can use its network experience map to select the best data centers or content networks that are best for each of your users, depending on which ISP they are using and what the performance looks like in real time.

Let’s look at example of how this may play out. Looking forward, it is a reasonable assumption that the major cloud providers will make deals with major ISPs to ensure users get reliable connections to content hosted on their clouds. Customers will want to utilize that knowledge and bias their traffic delivery rules to use these clouds to serve content to users from specific ISPs with prioritization agreements. But doing this configuration manually on a case-by-case basis is no longer a tenable solution. And it isn’t the only criteria that needs to be considered.

Choosing the cloud region or data center from which to serve each user of your Internet services is no longer simple: you need to consider the network performance to your serving locations, the data locality rules (such as GDPR), operating health of your applications and often other business rules or cost considerations. Citrix ITM provides a way to define this policy respecting these constraints while using real-time data to make informed traffic management decisions as conditions change on the Internet. Routing optimization happens automatically and in real-time; rather than continually watching and updating your traffic management rules, your operations and engineering teams can focus on improving your applications and creating new user experiences.

We know the internet will continue to change and your business will need to change with it. Stay tuned for more updates about how Citrix can help.