From Projection to Reality

This week I presented a Technical Brief about the Glow project at the Scottish Learning Festival. Part of the presentation included a few slides about the amount of network traffic that Scottish Local Authorities have generated since the introduction of the SSDN Interconnect some three and a half years ago. There is an often quoted trend which is that Internet Traffic level double every 1 – 1.5 years. So having collected data about traffic level since the start of the 2004, it seemed like a good time to see what the underlying trends are.

But First, what is the SSDN Interconnect – it is a wide area data network which connects each of the 32 local authorities and national organizations like the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Learning and Teaching Scotland to each other and to the Internet via the JANET network. The management and development of this network has been one of the main aspects of my work since it was installed. There are current 49 actual circuits which connect the participating bodies. This infrastructure provides the primary means for deliver of the Glow service – another project that I have been working on of late.

OK – back to the real business of this post.

The following Graphs show the traffic trends for the SSDN Interconnect as a whole since the start of 2004 up till the and of July 2007.

Click on the diagram to see it in more detail.

The fine detail is not too important, the blue lines represent the actual traffic levels which are plotted on a monthly basis (horizontal axes) and the black line which indicate the overall trend. The top diagram provides the detail for all the traffic leaving the connected sites and heading for the Internet and the bottom graph shows the detail of the traffic coming from the Internet to the connected sites. As you can see more traffic enters the connected orgaizations then leave them. The data plotted are the aggregate figures for all the connected sites. The lower graph shows that the traffic level at the start of the study was approximately 5,000,000 Mb per month whilst the traffic level at the end of the study was approximately 40,000,000 Mb per month – this is the total through put in the months in questions. So this shows that during the 3.5 year period that the network has been operating we have seen traffic level more or less double in each 12 month period.

Of course there are some seasonal dips and peaks which we might expect. Note that in the periods labeled 7, 19, 31, 43 there is a notable dip – this relates to the fact that schools will be on holiday between July and August each year – month 7 was July 2004 etc….. So the needs of education as clearly quite considerable and represent the main use of the Interconnect.

But the overall trend is always upward. I expect that this trend will continue in the future and for me it is good to find some empirical evidence that confirms the often quoted predictions that traffic levels will increase at the rates confirmed here.

For the future, I predict that, as Glow becomes embedded into the Scottish Education system, as an every day tool for teachers and learners that we will see an increase in the amount of rich media network based resources which are use in the classroom – that can only service to maintain the traffic trends shown here. But then there is another prediction, I wonder if we will be able to confirm this one in another 3 years or so?