QUIC improves app performance and QoE for OTT players, but makes sophisticated traffic analysis a more urgent need for operators seeing more “unknown” traffic on their networks.
We have written about the growing importance of apps in our lives, and who the most dominant players are right now, with both topics covered in depth in our upcoming “Global Internet Phenomena Report.” Another topic we spotlight in the report is the explosion of QUIC and the way it’s clouding visibility of downstream and upstream traffic for network planning and operations.
We expect this issue will grow in importance as performance and low latency become more critical to apps. QUIC is a transport protocol developed by Google to make the web faster and more efficient. In other words, QUIC is good for quality of experience (QoE), and with an IETF-approved version, big OTT players like Neflix, Snapchat, Apple, and Facebook are increasingly using it to go beyond the value offered by TCP, TLS, SCTP, and IPSec. Facebook, for example, is using QUIC in combination with HTTP/3 across more than 75% of its traffic, and has reported reductions in latency and request errors -- improvements it says are cascading into other QoE metrics.
But these QoE improvements may mitigate the effectiveness of firewalls and constructs that catch illegal activities. With QUIC obscuring information at endpoints, traditional probes and gateways that effectively measured TCP latency fail to see underneath QUIC. They end up classifying downstream and upstream traffic as “unknown,” which is why sophisticated QUIC analysis has become a more urgent need.
For example, we have found that it is possible to bring the unknown part of QUIC traffic down to a more manageable range using sophisticated QUIC traffic analysis. In preparation for our upcoming “Global Internet Phenomena Report,” we examined Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Instagram traffic from a few of our Tier 1 fixed service provider networks, and we saw that the fully encrypted QUIC transport protocol already accounted for nearly 30% of traffic in EMEA and 16% in North America.We were able to bring that down to 3% to 6% using our detailed analytics for deeper application and network intelligence.
This deeper level of application and network intelligence will be needed for 5G use cases around capacity planning, performance and operational monitoring, and user behavior analytics. Operators have to be able to determine applications’ underlying QUIC traffic and parse it into specific apps in order to stave off the planning and operational problems that could be caused by having so much “unknown” downstream and upstream traffic on their networks.
We see more use cases being developed by the IETF for DNS, Websockets, SIP, and both TCP and UDP tunnels over QUIC. Additionally, protocols and applications that run on top of HTTP/2 easily port to run over HTTP/3 and QUIC instead of TCP. For these reasons, we think QUIC will become a much bigger percentage of traffic this year. This is something we cover in the upcoming Global Internet Phenomena Report, and it’s why we think it’s important to think about these concerns before QUIC eats up the Internet.
To learn more about optimizing networks and assuring Application QoE in the digital era, download the IDC Vendor Spotlight, and feel free to contact us to learn more about our Application and Network Intelligence Portfolio, 5G Service Intelligence Engine, and Analytics.
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