Articles: Networking

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Now that we know the speed of the router’s network interfaces, we can proceed to the final part of our tests. We will see how the bandwidth grows if the two WAN ports are used simultaneously and how Load Balancing works.

The processor load indicator on the router’s status page reported only 64% when we were testing one WAN port, so we can expect a performance growth when using both WAN ports at once. In this test two desktop PCs with Gigabit Ethernet controllers and running endpoints are connected to the router’s WAN ports. A notebook with an IXChariot console is connected to a LAN port of the router. We enable NAT and disable Load Balancing.

WANs-LAN (LB off):

Strangely enough, the processor load does not increase to 100% and the performance remains on the same level. The load is distributed unevenly between the WAN ports, which is not good.

Now we turn Load Balancing on and run the tests again using the four algorithms this service supports on the BR-724. We change the network connection scheme to create real-life conditions: we connect both WAN ports of the BR-724 to the local network of another router that plays the role of a WAN. A PC is connected into the same network segment to work as a remote host.

WANs-LAN (LB Bytes):

WANs-LAN (LB Packets):

WANs-LAN (LB Sessions):

WANs-LAN (LB IP Address):

The load is distributed better now and we finally see the peak bandwidth of the WAN-LAN connection. It is about 52Mbps. The tests suggest that the four algorithms (balancing based on the amount of bytes or packets transferred, on the number of sessions established, on the amount of addresses used) are roughly similar in performance. The choice of the particular algorithms depends on your personal preferences. By the way, Load Balancing takes up the rest of the processor’s speed. The processor load indicator showed 100% during these tests!

The last test we will perform is meant to show us the operation of Load Balancing technology at different balance ratios. We use two algorithms – balancing based on bytes and packets transferred. We select a radical ratio of 80% to 20% for more clarity.

WANs-LAN (80%+20% Bytes):

WANs-LAN (80%+20% Packets):

That’s a rather odd outcome. The diagrams show that our changing the load ratio has but little effect. One port is loaded more than the other by only 10%, not 60%. Perhaps the implementation of this technology is not quite correct. On the other hand, we performed the test in a simplified environment and the technology may work better with a real network.

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