The same throttling functions that customers look for when they expect certain time-sensitive applications to get priority on the network will be making their way into Microsoft's next-generation desktop and server.
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The company has begun testing a Quality of Service (QoS) feature, which will be in both Vista and Longhorn Server. QoS technology helps cut down network congestion while optimizing traffic to the available bandwidth. QoS becomes useful when customers have multimedia applications or Voice over IP.
Now that VoIP is becoming more prevalent, it's crucial to be sure packets are all delivered when they need to be.
"This will make Windows Server more able to play in a world of quasi real-time services," said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata Inc., a Nashua, N.H., consulting firm. "[Real-time services] require quality guarantees. QoS is about when good enough isn't quite good enough."
Microsoft said the new QoS features coming in the Vista and Longhorn Server work in concert with existing router and switch-based queuing and traffic prioritization. This lets administrators, using Group Policy, prioritize or throttle outbound network traffic without changes to existing applications.
The network equipment interprets the RFC compliant DSCP markings to manage bandwidth usage. When you do this at the host, administrators can take advantage of such security controls as IPsec, without having to sacrifice the cost savings and resource optimization made possible by QoS, Microsoft said.
QoS technology has been emerging over at least a decade. Its mechanisms are largely attempts to prevent one workload from starving another by using more of the system's resources. By putting QoS in Longhorn or Vista, Microsoft said an IT department can define flexible policies though Active Directory Group Policy Objects to prioritize or throttle outbound applications without making changes to their applications.
In the case of a multimedia application, there has to be enough bandwidth left over so the more time-sensitive elements can be processed, Eunice said.