Handling March Madness: 8 Things IT Teams Need to Do
March 18, 2014

Sai Sundhar

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Are you sponsoring the NCAA basketball tournament in March? Well, maybe not directly. But you might be doing just that if your employees stream it on the company's network through their desktops and, lately, their mobile devices as well. The result? Traffic spikes and strangled bandwidth.

Traffic spikes in IT networks are a common sight during March Madness. Users have hundreds of live streaming options and apps dedicated to the tournament. The added network traffic, of course, can lead to insufficient bandwidth and network delays for your business-critical applications and create an IT nightmare.

Here are eight things that IT teams can do to ensure that the network is well guarded and productivity remains untouched during March Madness:

1. Monitor bandwidth usage continuously

Real-time views of bandwidth usage can pinpoint the instant at which a spike occurs. This information can help identify the bandwidth spent in streaming games and verify the impact on applications.

2. Set alarms based on thresholds

Configuring a usage threshold on certain ports can help control bandwidth usage on those ports. When bandwidth usage on a specific port exceeds the configured threshold, setting up an alert can help in controlling usage at that port. This will ensure that applications on that port will remain unaffected and bandwidth is available for business-critical applications.

3. Monitor device-wise traffic

Viewing network devices at one glance based on device traffic can help identify traffic-guzzling devices. This will help the IT team troubleshoot and ensure continuous network uptime.

4. Segment the network into departments and monitor traffic

Viewing department-wise bandwidth usage across the organization helps identify departments that stream NCAA-based sites and contribute to bandwidth strangling. You can then limit bandwidth usage depending on the amount of resources needed to run productive applications and control bandwidth wastage.

5. Set the right QoS policies

Implementing the right QoS policies can help in prioritizing business-centric applications, such as CRM and corporate email, over bandwidth-consuming yet unproductive applications, such as Skype, YouTube, etc. This will ensure enough bandwidth for business-critical applications.

6. Monitor dropped traffic

Depending on the QoS policy of your organization, some traffic might get dropped. It's important to monitor this traffic because it could be business-critical traffic. Therefore, IT teams must have some visibility into traffic based on QoS drops.

7. Monitor top applications

Viewing the applications running on your network is important to ensure that your network is being productively used. Real-time visibility into these applications at a given point in time and traffic statistics based on application-wise usage improve control.

8. Measure SLA levels

The impact of insufficient bandwidth means various things: VoIP calls get jittery or video calls have a low quality score. Therefore, measuring service levels for voice, data and video is important in verifying whether business-critical tools remain unaffected.

These are some preemptive measures that IT teams can adopt to minimize the impact of March Madness on networks and organizational productivity.

Sai Sundhar is marketing analyst on the NetFlow Analyzer team at ManageEngine.

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