Mobile OS updates can overwhelm Wi-Fi networks
The size of mobile operating system updates are threatening to overwhelm Wi-Fi networks, warned Bruce Miller, vice president of product marketing at Xirrus.
The latest example of this risk is the iOS 7 update last month, which disrupted networks at universities across the country. This could happen again when the Android KitKat 4.4 OS update is released this month, cautioned Miller. The latest rumors indicate that the KitKat 4.4 update will come on Oct. 15, according to CNET.
Some universities saw a 300 percent increase in traffic when the iOS 7 was pushed to the public. Miller said that widespread use of personal mobile devices at universities and insufficient wireless bandwidth combined to disrupt Wi-Fi networks at these educational institutions.
"When the update was released, students jumped onto the Wi-Fi network. We saw a 2X to 5X jump in Wi-Fi traffic when this happened. We could literally narrow it down to the minute when the update was released. The download was several gigabytes. When you have a lot of people downloading a large amount of data at the same time, you are bound to have choke points in the network," Miller told FierceMobileIT.
"What we noticed were IT folks scrambling to handle that scenario….These kind of events can cause pretty significant disruption to networks. In most cases, the network did not completely crash. Things would be working fine, then an event like this happens and then you have a fundamental disruption in service," Miller added.
"When these spikes in traffic occur, you cannot provide consistent, predictable performance for your applications, especially when you have classroom instruction going on or you are running a customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning app. You can't have these spikes in traffic cause business critical application to fail," Miller said.
Miller advised IT administrations to deploy on their Wi-Fi network application control software that regulates how the network handles bandwidth-hogging apps and spikes in traffic. This can prevent thousands of users from downloading software updates at the same time and crashing the network.
"IT needs to be savvy at the application level, identify when something like this happens and then be able to apply QoS [quality of service] or prioritization to applications, not just to users," Miller explained.
- check out the CNET story