Question to the collective brain trust for opinions and suggestions.
I have been asked to provide a solution to the business center I look after to display internet speed, quality, etc on a screen for end users in the building. This follows a long period (years) of flakey service and massive outages pre my take over of the infrastructure. And this distrust normally leads to tenants default reaction of blaming the business center hardware for everything
Installed is a netgate 6100 and Unifi stack with a gigabit primary and 200mbit backup. Simple and solid.
I guess my first question is … Should I refuse. Is this even a good idea from a business point of view. It’s likely people won’t understand statistics possibly and so what you are ending up with is just a green light / red light scenario essentially.
I have had a Jeff Geerling internet PI with granfana dashboard running for my own view, but again I think this might be too much information.
Does anyone else display information to end users? What solutions do you provide?
The user base in this building is a multi tenant center, all small business, no IT. Literally all of them have gone to PC World, bought a router and turned it on in their own little office. It’s carnage in interference and daisy chained Netgear switches lol.
Internet is supplied to each office via VLAN, some with Static IP NAT, some run their own wireless and router, all have issues. This was not in my scope to change, I just had the remit of making the internet better and switch gear better. That I have done. I am only contracted to the business center, not to be their IT. However of course I do my best to help
Example. User in office 25 complains that the internet is very unstable. They run speed check on fast. 300kb, then 300mbit then 30mbit then 800mbit. I check all my gear, all is fine. I install the afore mentioned Geerling inet pi. Stable 800mbit for 7 days. Users laptop wired and wireless still rubbish. So in the end it’s the user’s equipment.
But this took 7 days to prove this one scenario on the favour of the business center.
I guess in the end it’s not my problem. But I hate saying that as it makes for bad business
Would Zabbix be able to just show them the connection status and current bandwidth being used from pfsense? I’m not on my journey to figuring this out yet, so more a question than a solution.
The only problem with the system that Jeff Geerling made is that it uses bandwidth with constant speed tests. I have used it, it was part of why I kicked Spectrum out of my house, but it does take resources away from the connection every xx minutes when it performs another test. It or similar is the only way to really see if you are getting the download speeds you are paying to get.
I did get that system running on a non-Pi SBC, took a bit of messing around, but finally had it running for a while and something I should probably put back together. Just mentioning this because you don’t need an expensive device. I think the one I used only had 1GB of RAM.
Yes this was my only issue with Jeff’s solution too, the business center is kinda stingy in the fact that it keeps.tabs on the total Tx/Rx each tenant uses. I’m trying to get through to them that charging different rates for usage is antiquated, but you can see here why both sides have a vested interest in this problem
The tenants are paying for a service
The owner is charging them for usage
Both want to be assured of the “up time, over time” statistic to prove each other wrong.
This is why I liked Jeff’s solution actually as you could show over 24, 48, 72 hours or a week if there was any issue.
Double edged sword really.
As for Zabbix. I have NO knowledge on this aside from people say it monitors everything hahah. Maybe I should dove in too
Actually, I think you should look at the situation less like an engineer and more like Arthur Daley !
Why don’t you propose to do a “Network Assessment” for a fixed fee, evidently they have challenges and no one competent to address them. If you make it reasonable then they might go for it, if they don’t then the next time they have an issue you make the proposal a second time.
Yeah you could setup Zabbix to monitor your WAN etc. but I don’t see how it will help you, the tenants will still say the internet wasn’t working, when you know that the WAN was up and their kit had the problem.
Doing work for free is the fastest way to devalue the work that you do do. Think more like a lawyer !
The Owner has actually offered this out as Ive made it VERY clear that most if not all the issues in the building are from aged, or poorly setup/managed kit on the tenants side.
Of course as soon as you mention a few they run. A mile lol.
You are totally right in the fact that regardless of showing up time, the tenants will always believe it’s my kit not theirs …
I actually take fully on board this comment. I will be going back to the owner and staying again that he can offer my services for a “health check assessment” again for a few, out side of that the displays would be pointless.
Does the owner get charged per megabyte of transfer?
Normally each renter will need to buy their own internet, generally because everyone has different needs. That would be high on my list of things to change at the next lease agreement if I owned the place. If not then internet would be listed as best effort only since you can not control their equipment.
If this is a community office space where you rent out a room for 3 days, then that would be a different thing and goes back to question #1 where if the service is “unlimited” you could put up a device to monitor connection speeds in real time. But if the users are using it heavily, then the tests get choked out and it looks like your service is down.
I have a feeling that some users are happy and getting all the internet, which chokes out the other users. You might need to implement some sort of user based rate limiting, which may get complex.
To answer your question fully you would need to go back pre my time at the center. The original company implemented a Peplink device that took 3 DSL lines of 50MBit and largely combined them together, this provided a seamless internet regardless of if one of the devices was down, however they were all with the same provider, so when the provider went down … there is no spoon
At this time the Owner was charging people for internet usage in bands of 500MB / 750MB / 1GB+. Most of the little companies were not running internet based offsite backups because of this “limitation”.
The Peplink was pretty funky at doing what it did, however it was very old, unlicensed and when the DSL lines got fried in a lightning strike the IT company pulled out.
I insisted on replacing the peplink with a Netgate 6100 and replacing the DSL lines with 2 Fiber lines, a backup 200mbit link and a dedicated 1 gig circuit which never EVER get fully utilised. im actually not sure why this is as i have plenty going on over the weekends with C2 Synology backups but thats another story.
I suggested flat rate internet charge when the Gig line came in, like i say i have watched the utilisation on a daily basis, it bearly pushes 50mbit most days and 200mbit at night. This is now the case. I left a Geerling pi running for a week and it never chocked once, but as already known it chews bandwidth (not that its an issue) every 30mins
I would not give them flat rate service, I know what happens when you open the pipe all the way and tell them to have fun. Soon you’ll have someone move in that wants to basically run a server farm out of the place because internet is unlimited and included. That’s just they way some people think.
The honest customers can have a break, but be careful.
I’m not up on how you can do metering and limiting per customer, I know there are devices out there but way beyond anything I’ve had to deal with, and probably most of us haven’t had this need. Monitoring and limiting per vlan might be an idea, but still no good solution to the “is the service up and how fast” problem other than what you are doing.
And you can’t trust the ISP, at least not where I’m located (from my experience).
I thought there was also usage limit so you could limit to 100gb per month or something like that, probably in the same area. I haven’t messed around in there in a while but probably should set up my Shoutcast server to be limited to 50 to 100 mbps to help prevent a run away condition if someone compromises it.