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Google Apps, Outlook, Lots of attachments, limited bandwidth.

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Simon-    490

I have a client using Google Apps with Microsoft Outlook (using Google Apps Sync for Outlook).

They are sending more and more attachments internally and externally since going to Google Apps. 25 Users.

It has got to the point where the internet has slowed to a crawl and sending emails in Outlook is taking a long time because of the bandwidth issue.

Their Internet connection (ADSL2+) is getting 6Mbps UP and 0.8Mbps DOWN, and that's with Annex-M. They pay around $50/m for this.

To get this upload speed up, the next options are rather high-end: SHDSL, Wireless Point-to-Point, Midband Ethernet, Fibre, etc. They all require long-term contracts. The cheapest I can find for any of these is $425/m (for a measly 2Mbps) which is beyond their budget because they are bit tight at the moment in their current situation (even though they have 25 users at the moment).

If you want to see what high-end options are available in Australia: Exetel are probably going to be the cheapest to use as a baseline figure.

There is also 4G LTE available, very fast from what I hear (20+ Mbps DOWN, 10+ Mbps UP) but bandwidth will be limited: $80/m for 20GB, counted both uploads and downloads in that 20GB quota. Excess usage is $20/GB.

The users are not very computer literate and do not want to be re-trained into using Gmail (easiest solution) instead of Outlook, so unfortunately this is NOT an option.

They have a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine at their disposal which can be used.

All options are on the table, looking for ideas and suggestions, and the simpler the better (eg. Off the shelf tools)... but I can go as technical as need be (which it might have to be).

On the connection front...

I'm quite hesitant in pushing towards an expensive option (eg. $425/m) even if they say they can't afford it, because with the way they are going, I don't think that even 2Mbps upload (for $425/m)would be enough, and they will be spending thousands per month (and locked into contract) before they get decent speeds.

4G LTE is possible (if the traffic can be limited to only sending emails to stay within bandwidth quotas).

So is getting a secondary (or tertiary) ADSL2+ line (hopefully on a pair with a better Sync speed) also @ $50/m

But then there is the case of making all these cheap connections work together.

I can't think of anyway of load balancing between diverse connections, the only equipment I can find only does fall-over.

Does anyone have suggestions for load balancing across different connections?

Ideas I can think of

  • 2x ADSL lines, half the users have one default gateway, the other half have the other as the default gateway
  • 1x ADSL line + 1x4G LTE, Set a Static Route in the router to route traffic to Google's IP ranges to the 4G LTE gateway (Google Apps Sync tool does not use IMAP/SMTP servers etc. AFAIK so it would be hard to have an SMTP relay)
  • 1x ADSL line + 1x4G LTE, Outlook configured to send using a local Proxy Server or SMTP server (Proxy to SMTP configured to route via. the LTE) instead of Google Apps Sync tool (Is this even possible!?????)

On the limiting bandwidth front...

If there is a way to limit the external bandwidth being used in the first place, then the connection speed is not so important.

Ideas I can think of

  • An Outlook Add-In that strips an attachment that a user tries to send/forward and put it on Dropbox or Google Docs. I can't find any products that do this for Outlook, only ones that save a copy of the attachments without stripping.
    • Even with this, bandwidth would be wasted with multiple users downloading from Dropbox/Google Docs website constantly (Proxy Server Cache maybe?)
    • If it could be put into a local Dropbox then it could LAN-Sync to other PCs without using external bandwidth, but then there is the problem of being able to share the link to other users in their own local Dropbox, it will be particularly troublesome for External recipients.

    [*]I found this product Outdisk FTP, it looks fairly similar to what I'm looking for above except it uses FTP/HTTP. Maybe use a local FTP/HTTP server, and synchronise the FTP to an external webhost (or Synchronise only the files needed on demand), for external users to access. Or just cop the hit for external users to access the locally hosted FTP/HTTP user even though it's going to be slow.

Yes I realise that things might be getting a bit long winded here. That's why I am coming to the smart Neowin folk who might be able to shed their 2c in what they think the best solutions are going to be. Hopefully I missed some easy answers. User re-training must be very small (no more than an extra click MAX and that's pushing it) because they are very stuck in their ways.

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Simon-    490

Just an update on this, I looked into all the options and have been getting some pricing on Ethernet over Copper (ELM) which does at least 10/10Mbps up/down synchronous, and it's a fraction of the cost of Fibre. 4G is good, very good (tested 40Mbps down, 20Mbps up - clear LoS with tower across road) but data costs a lot when charged per GB, and at the end of the day it is not a business guaranteed service with an SLA.

They agreed that they want to spend the cash to fix the connection speed.

It turns out that they could probably save a lot by moving from ISDN to VOIP.

There is another company that I use for VOIP conversions, and they are fantastic. I know many clients using them with 0 problems.

Their ADSL line will stay and be dedicated only for VOIP use (They tell me that 0.8Mbps upload is enough for at least 12 simultaneous VOIP calls) and this would take the worry out of needing QoS.

Hopefully when this all comes through they will be paying more for internet, but about the same amount less for phones.

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