Getting a Handle on Streaming and March Madness
March 23, 2016

Dirk Paessler
Paessler AG

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The first round of the NCAA tournament has come to an end. If you're a sports fan, it's a sad day as the opening round of games is one of the most exciting events of the year. But, if you work in an IT department, you likely see the end as merciful and are breathing a deep sigh of relief.

Paessler conducted a survey of 229 of our customers and found that 86 percent of respondents believe that a high number of users streaming NCAA Tournament games could have a severe impact on their network, and that 94 percent expected network traffic/utilization levels to be higher during tournament games that take place during the work day. In response to this, 87 percent said that their company will block access to live streaming on the network.

We did a similar survey following last year's tournament and found that just 25 percent reported blocking access to live streaming. For us, it suggests that IT departments are becoming more aware of issues and disruptions caused by live streaming and mobility in the workplace. And it isn't just major events like March Madness or the Olympics, it's everything from YouTube to syncing iTunes over company WiFi.

Streaming video is becoming the defacto means of consumption for entertainment, and with successful applications like the NCAA March Madness app, it's quickly taking over sports and news as well. Delivering streaming content is an enormous issue for service providers and, many users simultaneously streaming video in the office is a disaster for IT departments and poses problems for both networks and end user productivity.

IT can do their best to block live streaming, but similarly with Shadow IT, users who want to do something will often find a way. There are other approaches that can help alleviate this problem. Here are a few tips from Paessler on how to take control of streaming on your network:

Have firm IT policies that are communicated clearly

While some employees may think IT rules don't apply to them, many simply may not understand that their streaming video habit is a major problem. Be clear with your employees about the issue at hand ahead of time and let them know about expected protocol and behavior.

Set up a separate WiFi network for mobile devices

Stopping all streaming and other unsanctioned activities is no easy task, but the damage can be minimized by setting up a separate WiFi network for mobile devices that keeps production networks free from mobile users.

Set up common area viewing for major events

This is as much of an HR policy as it is an IT policy. There are a handful of days a year where there is a massive distraction that is occupying employees' minds. Rather than fight the inevitable, bring a TV into the break room or set up a projector and allow employees to work while they watch from one central location.

Monitor network traffic closely, and set more stringent alerts

Be prepared for anything, and when you know a major event is coming up, set more stringent alerts for network utilization so alarm bells go off at the first sign of trouble.

These policies will go a long way toward alleviating streaming problems and minimizing the madness in your networks.

Dirk Paessler is CEO and Founder of Paessler AG.

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