Server-based Excel and the bandwidth-delay product

Microsoft is adding support for server-based Excel in version 12. This may not seem like it’s relevant content here, and that’s because it’s not. But boy howdy, this has been the #1 gripe of Positive Networks users for years. 5MB Excel worksheet + 1Mbps Internet access == toothache-like pain.

Reminds me of a story that used to be passed around in networking circles a few years ago. My friend Deep Medhi is fond of reminding people to never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon loaded with backup tapes driving down the highway at 55mph. If you do the math, it turns out to be much higher bandwidth than most people’s network pipes (imagine 60 cubic feet worth of 8GB DVDs on a 4 hour drive, for example).

The problem is the round-trip time. The bandwidth-delay product is a really useful characteristic to know about your network pipe; in general, smaller is better. Needless to say, our station wagon has a very high BD product.

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