If, like me, you watch a lot of pro football, you’ll start to notice the many different approaches that offensive lines use to block the defense. Often, you’ll see the old school approach where the lineman simply try to block back and knock down the defensive lineman facing them. But sometimes you see the line use misdirection, even opening up a seeming hole in the line that invites the defense to run through, but is actually controlling where the defense goes and allowing the offense to run an effective play.
One can also see something quite like these strategies at play within company networks. Administrators see that employees are using non-business applications like Facebook or YouTube and that these are sometimes impacting network performance and bandwidth availability.
Often, the classic response in some businesses is to block these services outright. This seems to make sense and can definitely work when it comes to stopping the impact recreational applications have on the network.
But, just as straight ahead run blocking can sometimes lead to a stacked line and a running back held to no gain, a straight ahead application blocking policy can face resistance and lead to unforeseen and negative consequences. For example, faced with a blocked application that an employee finds necessary, possibly even to get their job done, the employee will try to work around the block, maybe through proxies or jumping on another company’s open network or even using their own mobile hotspot. And this will mean the employee is now out of your control and may be using these same insecure networks for business tasks.
Instead of this blocking approach, Aberdeen research for the report Control Video, Social, and Recreational Applications and Don’t Let them Control Your Network has shown that successful organizations are able to use technology to limit the effect of non-business applications on network bandwidth and performance. Rather than block applications, these companies let employees have access to applications like Facebook and YouTube, but they control how much bandwidth these applications can consume. The application may seem a little slow but the employee has no reason to jump to an outside solution.
This also meets the increasing modern reality that many of these seeming recreational applications are now becoming more critical for business communications, connections, sales and marketing.
In football, it may seem a little crazy to let a giant defensive end run clean through your line. But by controlling where the defense goes, the offense is able to effectively run their plays. It may also seem crazy to let employees watch YouTube videos, but by gaining control, businesses are able to effectively manage their valuable network resources.
Jim Rapoza is Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen Group.