Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

March Madness: Lessons for Networks

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 64 percent of Americans watch online video while at work. As employees flocked to watch March Madness, network administrators are focusing on new ways to withstand the increase in demand and keep business applications responsive. writes David White of Ipanema Technologies.

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David White is President North America for Ipanema Technologies. White is a senior executive with more than 25 years experience in sales, marketing and business development, with a background in WAN Optimization.



Ipanema Technologies

March Madness, the largest NCAA college basketball tournament in the nation has a reputation for impacting work productivity at companies throughout the United States. The annual, month-long single-elimination tournament is in its 75th anniversary and is being broadcast by CBS online. Since the early round games take place during the workday, the bad news for businesses grows past productivity into how their WAN is being used during these days.

The bandwidth capabilities of company networks have been pressured as many dedicated fans stream the tournament from their office computers throughout the week. While U.S. businesses anticipated a spike in demand for network resources during March Madness, data centers, Wide Area Networks and companies alike also prepared, lest they risk the performance of business critical applications.

Mad for Networks

During previous March Madness tournaments, there have been 2.4 million daily unique viewers following the games. The growth of access to the Internet at work will stress U.S. corporate networks like never before. Not only can games be watched on computers, but now mobile devices can stream content. According to a 2012 report, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm, estimates that more than 2.5 million unique visitors per day each spent an average of 90 minutes watching games.

What These Challenges Mean

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 64 percent of Americans watch online video while at work. As the games occur during business hours, employees are highly likely go online to track their favorite teams. So take the stats mentioned above, and imagine the impact it could have on businesses should their employees flock to watch March Madness and their networks not be able to withstand the increase in demand.

According to a survey by Modis, a global provider of IT staffing and recruiting services, two in five IT professionals report March Madness impacted their network in the past, with about a third reporting system slowdowns or complete crashes. If companies aren’t prepared, their business critical applications will be affected as they compete against YouTube and online video for limited resources. IT departments need to know how to guard against this.

According to a leading analyst house, application performance problems really matter. Losing a mere 5 minutes per day costs 1 percent of overall productivity! It’s also important to consider that applications are a huge investment, costing roughly an average of $360/employee/month when maintenance and up-front cost is considered. With all this at stake it makes sense to protect that investment.

Why Bandwidth isn’t the Complete Answer

There are two solutions: companies can purchase more bandwidth before March Madness (or other known high-interest events) or companies can use what they have more effectively through Application Performance Guarantee solutions, which control and dynamically guarantee critical applications performance across networks.

Adding more bandwidth isn’t the solution, as more bandwidth is rarely enough. Non-applications are bandwidth hungry and the more bandwidth you have, the more bandwidth they consume. They will systematically cannibalize critical application performance. And the added resources will never guarantee critical application performances.

Application traffic tries to use up all the available bandwidth. Simply increasing it is like filling a bottomless pit: expensive and never enough to satisfy the ever-growing usage demands. The additional traffic may also hinder the performance of the business critical and often resource thrifty applications.

It’s Not Size -- It’s Sophistication

The answer lies in having solutions that allow an IT department to control applications as they flow across the network.

Not deploying an Application Performance Guarantee solution implies uncertain business application performance and control that may involve lost of productivity and end users complaints – Enterprises’ carry on running IT in a reactive mode that is neither optimum for the business nor satisfying for the IT department. Business applications continue to suffer from bad and/or unstable performance while the network is still over-sized. Unsatisfied users and business managers continue to complain. The WAN is unnecessarily upgraded without solving application performance and end-users experience troubles.

Managing Traffic

If we think of networks as roads, and applications as cars, an Application Performance Guarantee solution might be a police officer. It can direct cars into appropriate queues. It can slow cars that are less critical to the business (for instance, the YouTube car) and prioritize those that the business depends on (such as the Salesforce or SAP cars). This then allows vehicles to get to their destination in a timely, secure fashion – regardless of the amount of traffic on the ‘road’.

As March Madness concludes, it is just one example that demonstrates the need for Application Performance Guarantee solutions. These technologies will continue to grow, helping enterprises to face Internet traffic growth challenges in an easy and user-friendly way by authorizing Internet and video traffic, while ensuring business applications perform at their best and that IT costs remain reasonable.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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