Traffic shaping (or packet shaping) is a technique of limiting the bandwidth that can be consumed by certain applications to ensure high performance for critical applications.

What is Traffic Shaping?

Traffic shaping enables organizations to increase network performance by controlling the amount of data that flows into and out of the network. Traffic is categorized, queued, and directed according to network policies. Essentially, traffic shaping regulates the network by slowing the transmission of packets classified as less important so that priority applications are delivered without delay.

By managing the bandwidth of the network, organizations can ensure the performance and quality of service of their key applications and business traffic.

Why is Traffic Shaping Important?

Any network has a finite amount of bandwidth, which makes traffic shaping through bandwidth management a key tool to ensure the performance of critical applications and the delivery of time-sensitive data.

Traffic shaping is a powerful and flexible way to ensure quality of service and defend against bandwidth-abusing distributed denial-of- service (DDoS) attacks. It protects networks and applications from traffic spikes, regulates abusive users, and prevents network attacks from overwhelming network resources.

How Does Traffic Shaping Work?

The first step in implementing an efficient traffic shaping system is categorizing the different kinds of traffic on the network.

For example, organizations may want to prioritize traffic to and from a key web application to ensure that no matter how busy the network gets, this important traffic is forwarded normally. What this means is that other kinds of traffic may be deprioritized. When this happens, the packets are simply held in a buffer until they can be forwarded without exceeding the total desired and configured rate.

Once the categorization system is set up, the traffic shaping appliance (often an Application Delivery Controller) begins to manage the bandwidth into and out of the network.

How Does F5 Handle Traffic Shaping?

With new types of applications, traditional traffic shaping techniques may not be sufficient. BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager offers sophisticated and granular traffic shaping technology, enforced by customizable business policies called iRules.