Will the Olympics Add to Your Network Strain?
August 05, 2016

Mike Sargent

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The vast majority of companies surveyed, 85%, are likely to more closely monitor the performance of their applications and networks, including Wi-Fi, specifically because of potential strain due to employees accessing Olympic content, with 42% of these same companies being very likely to monitor more closely, according to The Riverbed Global Network Strain 2016 Snapshot Survey. Only 2% stated that they were very unlikely to monitor any differently during the Olympics.

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As athletes prepare for the games, IT organizations need to prepare for the significant increase in network traffic that will occur as a result of employees accessing and streaming online content and applications, and the related increase in volatility of that network demand. It is crucial for companies to shine a spotlight on the current and anticipated end-to-end performance of business critical applications, especially during major events such as the Olympics.

The survey shows that companies expect employees to access Olympic content using the company’s networks, including Wi-Fi, most frequently via their desktops and laptops (48%); followed by smartphones (34%); and then tablets or other non-smartphone devices (18%).

At 44%, Brazil was the only country surveyed that believed by a slight margin that most of its employees would access Olympics games coverage at work more from smartphones than desktop or laptop computers, tablets or other non-smartphone devices.

The reason for monitoring employee access to Olympic content could potentially be linked to companies being unable to quickly pinpoint and resolve performance issues of critical business applications: Less than half of the companies surveyed, 43%, were very confident that their organizations could safeguard critical applications during high network traffic events such as the Olympics, while 12% were not confident that their companies could handle the added strain and traffic.

In one of the most revealing statistics, companies were asked if they’ve had an issue, even once, with their networks, including Wi-Fi, specifically because employees were accessing content during a popular event such as the Olympics. The majority of companies responded yes (69%), with 30% of these same companies saying that they have experienced more than one episode of issues.

The survey also found that the majority (70%) of companies said they would limit or probably limit employees from accessing Olympic content through company networks, including Wi-Fi, in some way, with 24% saying they will definitely limit content and 46% saying they would probably limit content.

Tips on how companies can alleviate strain on their networks:

■ Implement real-time end-to-end monitoring for visibility into network and applications.

■ Prioritize and optimize company network traffic while reserving bandwidth for business critical applications.

■ Distinguish between company assets and BYOD. Allowing BYOD doesn't mean that employees can bring any device of their choice and be given unmitigated access to the corporate network.

■ Team spirit is not just for the athletes competing in the Olympics: Bring siloed IT teams together to plan for any high-priority network events during this time.

■ Provide employees TVs for viewing in common areas to ease load on network.

Survey Methodology: The Riverbed Global Network Strain 2016 Snapshot Survey is the result of a July 2016 custom online survey by Wakefield Research of 403 IT Professionals in the US, UK, Australia, and Brazil. This includes 102 IT Professionals in the US, 100 IT Professionals in the UK, 100 IT Professionals in Australia, and 101 IT Professionals in Brazil.

Mike Sargent is SVP and GM for SteelCentral at Riverbed.

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