Why Load Balancing Beats Bonding for Multiple SIM Connections Onboard
There are two approaches to combining multiple SIMs: LOAD BALANCING and BONDING. While each has their advantages and disadvantages, the Axxess Marine Engineering and Support Teams generally recommend LOAD BALANCING for Cellular Data Services onboard yachts. Why? We believe that LOAD BALANCING enables maximum onboard network performance.
Looking for more detail so you can decide which method of combining multiple WAN connections best suits your owners, guest, and crew? Peruse the info below, including the BONDING INFOGRAPHIC and the LOAD BALANCING INFOGRAPHIC, each designed by our Axxess Marine Engineering Team to help you best understand the flow of onboard data when using each option.
LOAD BALANCING: Axxess Marine recommends LOAD BALANCING when you are:
- Accessing internet-delivered applications.
- Running services over a cellular data connection.
- Not needing high speed access to a corporate (intranet) network (under 25 Mbps per connection).
- Not able to install a hub in your own data center or the desire to use a provider’s hub due to security.
- Requiring data service onboard a vessel or any transport vehicle.
BONDING: Axxess Marine recommends BONDING when you require:
- High speeds for a single application (50mbps and up).
- Packet-loss sensitive applications.
- Connection to a corporate (intranet) network.
- The location is static, such as office building or home.
BONDING AND LOAD BALANCING EXPLAINED.
WHAT IS BONDING? Bonding takes individual connections and combine them to form a single aggregated connection.
- Advantages: By using multiple links at once to split the traffic flow across each in real time, you can re-transmit dropped packets instantly via another active channel. This makes it ideal for applications that are sensitive to packet loss.
- How it works: VPN is required for corporate connectivity, BONDING allows each channel to form its own tunnel while the BONDING protocols split the traffic up across all the active channels, meaning all of them are used for the VPN traffic. This allows for instant failover and no packet loss.
BONDING Hardware: Several 4G router manufacturers have invested in bonding, notably Peplink who have a proprietary technology called Speedfusion that can split data packets across multiple connections. Other manufacturers Meridian 4G / Cellweaver.
WHAT IS LOAD BALANCING? With load balancing solutions, traffic is distributed across a number of connections. Unlike BONDING, these connections remain separate and you do not need a hub in a Data Centre to bond these connections together.
- Advantages When using LOAD BALANCING you can split traffic evenly, or even by specific channels, in order to prioritise critical users (Owners, guests) and activities over non-critical. Simply put, LOAD BALANCING enables the data flow to be directed in a manner that bests suit the needs of the vessel. NO BONDING protocols or encryption for VPN are necessary.
- How it works Splitting the SIMs between different SSIDs is the most efficient in performance and cost. A VLAN connects a Cellular connection directly to a user group. For Example: Cellular connection 1 & 2 goes directly to the Owner’s network with no restrictions on speed or volume, and Cellular connection 3 goes to the AV/IT with a limit on data volume. Cellular and the Crew network is assigned Cellular connection 4 with a Data limit per month of 50GB.
LOAD BALANCING Hardware 4G/5G LTE A Router Manufacturer Peplink provides the most comprehensive LOAD BALANCING solution. Axxess Marine SIM Zero Routers provide load balancing options without the need to change SIMs throughout your journey. While called other manufacturers including Meridian 4G / Cellweaver can be used, they do not yet have a strong LOAD BALANCING solution.
LOAD BALANCING VERSUS BONDING THE BREAKDOWN:
LOAD BALANCING enables maximum network performance
With load balancing, traffic is distributed across a number of connections. Unlike bonding, these connections remain separate and you do not need a hub in a Data Centre. The advantage is that there is no performance loss in running multiple sims at the same time.
BONDING service speed loss
Because all traffic is sent through the bonded tunnel to the central hub before breaking out, it can influence native internet performance. The encryption overhead of the VPN can also impede performance. With each added SIM connection, the loss over the connections is noticeable; First SIM connection over the VPN 5-10% loss, second SIM 15% loss, third SIM 20% loss. The 4th SIM added to the bonding service will lose up to 25% in data speed.
Ease of Compatibility with LOAD BALANCING
LOAD BALANCING supports open standards such as IPSEC when setting up VPNs. This means that existing equipment can more likely be used and services do not need to be run through the same Managed Service Provider (MSP). While the VPN itself will only run on one active channel at a time, it can be set to auto-failover between channels should the link fail.
Complex and Disparate Compatibility of BONDING
Because BONDING is not an open standard when setting up VPNs. Different Managed Service Providers (MSP) have their own proprietary approach to their equipment and common standards for VPN such as IPSEC cannot be used. This means that you’ll likely to have to use the same MSP for both core and site devices, or tunnel an IPSEC VPN through the MSP bonding VPN, which is a layer of added complexity and associated overhead.
Higher Cost of BONDING
Running a data center where the secondary hub site bonding takes place brings additional cost. If the secondary hub is managed by the vessel, an additional bonding hub in a third-party data center is a necessity, which comes at a serious cost per month.
Low performing connections with BONDING
BONDING is only as good as the worst performing connection. For example, if you have multiple connections, the bonding service will run at the speed and latency capacity of the slowest detected service. Further, when the one 4G connection has a latency of 65ms and another has a latency of 150 or up, BONDING will run at the speed of the highest latency and BONDING no longer performs. Given that roaming vessels are often updating network connections between locations, distance to towers, variable Providers, BONDING becomes very unstable.
Greater security risk of BONDING
As a client using BONDING, you should require all BONDING Service Providers to demonstrate a least ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 compliance, not only for said Service Provider’s Hosting Partners but also for any third-party Support Sites that manage the BONDING infrastructure. You can mitigate security risk by being fully informed. Request copies of the BONDING Providers SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 Compliance Reports covering the Provider and any sub-Contractors and Hosting Providers.
Have more questions about which solution is best for you and your vessel? As always, the Axxess Marine Team is just a click away if you have more questions.
Looking to upgrade your knowledge of your onboard communications systems? Axxess Marine is launching an ETO, Engineer and Crew Communication System webinar series in the fall of 2019. Get more details.
Read about how Axxess Marine improved speeds and flexibility of Client’s onboard communication. Click here to read more: