Distributed Mode Deployment

Overview

Bandwidth Controller can operate in two unique modes: Distributed Mode or Gateway Mode. Distributed Mode allows the product to work on networks that have no gateway or server computer. For these types of networks the clients connect directly to the router that provides the internet access. Gateway mode, on the other hand, is designed for networks that use a central computer to provide internet access and related services.

This tutorial explains the steps involved in deploying the product in a distributed mode environment. It also covers how to prevent users from uninstalling or disabling the distributed mode server that runs on each workstation. This ensures all computers on the network obey the bandwidth management rules set by the administrator.

Introduction

Note: Distributed Mode (also known as Server-Free Mode) is only available in Standard Edition. See the feature comparison table for more information.

Traditionally it has been possible to control network bandwidth in only one of two ways. The most common method is to send all network traffic to a centralized bandwidth manager that provides prioritization, rate limiting and other related services. Unfortunately this requires a separate server which can be expensive for smaller organizations and LANs in terms of cost, electricity and maintainence.

The other method has been to install a bandwidth manager directly onto the client. The problem with that type of deployment is that the software can only control the actual client that it's installed on. There is no coordination of bandwidth flows between each computer on the network. So while it is possible to set a maximum rate on each client, there is no way to provide even distribution of bandwidth between a group of clients.

Bandwidth Controller's Distributed Mode overcomes that problem by providing synchronization capabilities between each client, using a TCP based load balancing system. Each client sends continuous usage information to the other machines on the network, allowing the software to allocate an even amount of bandwidth for each workstation.

There are two main steps to installing the product in distributed mode. The first step is to install the Bandwidth Controller Server on each workstation that you wish to control. The second step involves setting the privilege level for users to ensure that only the network administrator has access to the product.

For some networks the second step will be unnecessary if there is no chance the users will attempt to disable the product on their workstations. Also, some networks will have the user privilege level already configured with the correct access.

Step 1: Installing with Administrator Privileges

Each workstation on the network must have the server application installed, otherwise it will receive no traffic shaping. The server is a lightweight service that does not add load the computer. The only noticable effect it will have is to limit the client's network speed when necessary, which is by design.

To install the server, right click the setup file and choose Run As... as shown in the image below. If you are sure that you are logged in with full administrator rights then you can skip this step and just double click the file to start the installation process.

The following window will appear which allows you to install the product with the privileges that it needs. Select 'The following user' option and choose Administator from the list. Enter the password for the administrator account for that computer and click Ok to proceed.

Step 2: Package Selection

Click next through the welcome screens until you reach the Package Selection window.

Unselect the Client Package option as only the server is needed.

Step 3: Firewall Settings

Click Next until you reach the following window:

Distributed Mode requires the access to the following network ports. You can add the ports by going to Windows Firewall in Control Panel. Click the Exceptions tab then click Add Port....

You can then enter in the name of the application and the port to open (24824, TCP), as shown in the image below:

Click Add Port again to enter the next port (24825, TCP). Finally, click Add Port again to enter the final port (24826, UDP). Note that the final port is UDP and not TCP which is the default.

Step 4: Windows Logo Testing Warnings

During installation, Windows will display several warning windows. Click Continue Anyway for each window that appears.

Please note that Bandwidth Controller has over five years of testing and development in production environments and has been thoroughly fault tested.

After clicking Continue Anyway several times the installation will be completed for that client. Click Finish to end the installation process.

Step 5: Checking User Privilege Level

For some networks it may be necessary to prevent the user from disabling the product. The reason for this is that without the product running there is no way for it to control the bandwidth usage for the workstation.

To check the security level, go into the Service Manager by right clicking My Computer, choosing Manage, then select Services and Applications, Services from the left side of the window.

Right click the Bandwidth Controller Server service and select Stop:

If the service stops successfully then the user has administrator level privileges. This means they can stop the server at any time to prevent them from taking part in any traffic shaping for the network.

If you receive an Access Denied error then the user has the correct privileges and the installation process is complete. There is no need to continue with the final steps below.

Step 6: Setting the User Privilege Level

To prevent the user from stopping the service, you must change their account type.

From Control Panel, double click User Accounts. Click the user's account name which will take you to the Account Options screen:

Click the second last option: Change Account Type. Select Limited to prevent the user from starting and stopping services. Then click the Change Account Type button at the bottom of the window to complete the changes.

Note that changing the account type for a user may prevent them from installing some software products and restrict access to certain system files and folders. For times when restricted users need to install new software, it is possible to right click the product and choose Run As... (requiring the administrator to enter the password) as outlined in Step 1 of this document.

Feel free to contact us with any queries you may have when deploying the product and configuring user accounts. We are more than happy to help with any issues that you may run into.

Step 7: Configuring the Distributed Mesh

After following this procedure for each computer on the network, the distributed mesh should be active. Install the client portion of the product on your own computer which will allow you to monitor the activity of the mesh and make any necessary configuration changes such as line speed settings.

Log into any one of the workstations using the client (see the IP Address tutorial for instructions on how to find an address to connect to). After connecting, click View, Options ... from the menu. Then click the Internet tab which will take you to the line speed configuration screen:

Enter the full upload and download speeds for your internet connection in the Upload Capacity and Download Capacity fields (note that the values are in kilobits per second). Save the new settings by clicking Ok. The new internet speed values will be updated for all clients that are part of the mesh, so you only need to configure this setting on a single workstation.

Step 8: Confirming the Distributed Operation

Select View, Distributed Servers ... from the menu. This will bring up a window that displays information about all active clients in the mesh:

The image above shows two machines that are both downloading large files. Each computer has been given around 50% download allocation which they are fully utilizing. The line speed (512 kb/s or 65 kB/s) has been split evenly between the two machines and they are given around 30 kB/s each. The percentage values on the right show the amount that the clients have been allocated by the mesh. The data speeds on the left show the actual usage.

When a client goes offline or stops downloading, the spare bandwidth is spread across all of the remaining clients. This ensures that the internet bandwidth is used with maximum efficiency at all times.

Conclusion

Distributed Mode gives you the ability to dynamically control bandwidth without the need for a centralized computer. The distributed mesh makes decisions based on each client's internet usage and ensures that no single client takes all of the bandwidth, allowing each computer on the network to receive a fair share of the internet resource.

This type of deployment takes more time than Gateway Mode because it requires installing the product on each client computer, rather than a central server. But it does have the advantage of allowing smaller networks to run efficiently without having to purchase and maintain an internet server.

Please contact us if you require any assistance for product deployment and configuration. Our support staff will help you set the product up for your particular network environment and answer any questions you may have regarding installation and operation.