August 6, 2012

Article

Olympics putting strain on enterprise networks

By Stephen Blankenship – Director, Product Management

In recent weeks, Olympic fever has spread to both sports fans and casual observers the world over. The symptoms of such an affliction include two entire weeks of camaraderie for one’s countrymen and women coupled with a non-threatening sense of competition with everyone else not living in your part of the world. This is compounded by feelings of unabashed triumph when your team wins, utter disappointment when they lose and uncontrollable weeping for a good human interest story.

However, Olympic fever is not restricted to people. When the Olympics are in full swing, the symptoms may extend to businesses and other organizations closest to the action. Such is the case with the Summer Games in London.

In late July, just as the Olympics were kicking off, Computerworld reported that the games could result in more strain on company networks than at any other point in the event’s 116-year history. Rather than watching the games on television or reading about them in the newspaper, more and more viewers are streaming the activity over the internet to watch events in real time or highlights later in the day.

Jon Olstik, senior principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, warned that enterprises must be prepared in light of this development. If, say, a handful of employees decide to stream the taekwondo matches Friday afternoon, it could sap up a great deal of bandwidth and put significant strain on the network. According to an estimate from Blue Coat Systems, Olympic video streams could consume as much as 30 to 60 percent of a company’s bandwidth if not controlled.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid such issues. As a recent eWeek report noted, a business must monitor its current traffic profile. This will give the company insight into how much bandwidth is being used and by whom. If bandwidth usage tends to spike at certain points of the day, it may be necessary to restrict video-watching privileges to give more mission-critical functions priority. EWeek also advised businesses to back up their network configures just in case the network does go down. This will ensure the company is able to get systems up and running again as quickly as possible.

These types of issues aren’t unique to major events like the Olympics, however. Even video used for work-related purposes can push the network to its limits. To overcome this particular challenge, a business is advised to implement an enterprise content delivery network that brings content inside the firewall, where the network has more bandwidth at its disposal. Such a solution will ensure video content is delivered seamlessly regardless of its destination, and the network keeps running smoothly.

-Stephen